Louizandre Dauphin says he was just looking for a quiet place to spend a few hours reading when he parked his car near a wharf in northeastern New Brunswick.
That’s why the 33-year-old municipal employee in Bathurst was stunned when the RCMP pulled him over as he left because he says they received several calls from concerned citizens reporting a “suspicious person” on the wharf.
Dauphin, who is the city’s director of parks, recreation and tourism, is black and alleges that is why people contacted the police.
“I would say it definitely played a part in it,” he said in an interview Monday. “It just highlights a systemic problem that is truly global. I just hope that it continues that discussion on how do we actually bridge these gaps that we have.”
The RCMP offered a slightly differing version of events Monday. Const. Derek Black said they received a call about a suspicious vehicle on the wharf last Thursday and there was no mention of the occupant’s ethnicity or race. He says an officer stopped the vehicle and deemed the report to be unfounded.
In an interview, Dauphin said he wanted to have an evening outside his apartment and decided to go to the Stonehaven wharf in Bathurst to find a quiet place to read and write. After spending a few hours sitting in his car reading an anthology of author C.S. Lewis, he headed home.
“I told him who I was and what I was doing and he informed me that they received a few calls from concerned citizens regarding a suspicious person down by the wharf,” he said.
“When you get pulled over for reading, it does seem a little ridiculous.”
Dauphin insists the officer involved was respectful and was just doing his job, but he feels it highlights a “systemic problem” with regards to race.
The Ontario native said race was never mentioned in the exchange with the officer.
Dauphin says he has received supportive calls and messages from people across the country, and hopes the experience will add to the conversation about race relations.
“Some have thanked me for bringing to light a situation that’s not talked about very openly or regularly in Canada,” he said
Dauphin works for the city of Bathurst, which is roughly 140 miles northeast of the Maine border. Yet he posted on Instagram Friday saying “VIOLENCE: ENOUGH is ENOUGH” after a sniper over 2,000 miles away in Dallas killed five police officers at a Black Lives Matter protest.
“This is what happens when the seeds of fear and ignorance are sown, fertilized by hatred, and watered with ignorance,” Dauphin wrote. “Fingers get pointed by all sides and everyone fails to realize that the problem is a systemic one. It is a global problem. It is a human problem.”