A man who was filmed hurling racist insults toward a couple in the Montreal borough of LaSalle last month has been arrested, Montreal police confirmed Thursday.
On Aug. 11, Nadisha Hosein and her husband were berated by a francophone man who told the Montrealers of Indian descent to go back to their country after they spoke to him in English.
The incident occurred when Hosein stopped reversing her car out of her driveway to allow the man to walk past on the sidewalk.
Hosein said the man immediately became aggressive and approached her passenger window.
"He said, 'You people have to learn to stay in the driveway or be on the street.'"
When Hosein's husband, who was standing outside, told the man in English that his wife only stopped to let him pass, the man began screaming at the couple that they had to learn to speak French because they live in Quebec. Both of them are bilingual.
When Hosein's husband continued to speak to the man in English, the man told the couple to go home to India or Pakistan.
Hosein said she pulled out her phone and began recording the situation as her eight-year-old daughter watched from the backseat, frightened.
"I was shaken. My daughter on the other, she was more affected by the entire thing because it's been a couple of weeks and she still asks questions," she said.
Following the incident, Hosein called police to report what she felt was a hate crime, but was told that there was nothing they could do as no threats against her or her family were uttered. However, police transferred the incident report and the video to its hate crime division, established in 2016.
In a statement Thursday, Montreal police said they arrested the suspect that morning following an investigation by that unit.
"He is also involved in another separate event, this time for assault on a citizen," the statement said.
The man almost took a swing at CTV reporter Stéphane Giroux while he was in LaSalle reporting on the initial incident.
The case has been transferred to Quebec's prosecution office for review. The man has not been formally charged.
Hosein said she feels safer now that police informed her he was given a restraining order.
"I don't have to look both ways before we actually leave the house in the morning with the girls. We don't have to look over our back anymore," she said.
Alain Babineau, a former RCMP officer and prominent police-reform advocate, believes that the fact the incident was recorded made a difference in how police reacted.
"It's unfortunate because most often people will not get an opportunity to record the incident but in this case they did and it drew public support and really pushed the SPVM to investigate," he said.
Hosein hopes her family's experience might help others come forward to denounce racist behaviour.
"I want people to feel as though, yes, they do have a voice, and it should be heard, and nobody should be spoken to that way."