ICYMI – Chris Selley: Police carding ought to be an anathema in a free society. How is it still up for debate?

Good commentary:

In the debate over if, when and how police should be able to stop, question and compel identification from citizens, and then store the information they receive in databases, those arguing to allow officers maximum discretion tend to defer to public safety. The more info police have, the more crime and violence and misery they can avert. Conveniently for that view, in the two years since more restrictive rules took effect in Ontario, Toronto has experienced a significant spike in homicides.

Coincidence? Justice Michael Tulloch thinks so. In his 300-page report on the Independent Street Checks Review he oversaw, officially released Friday, Tulloch does a pretty good job busting causation down to correlation.

In 2013, he observes, Toronto police agreed to ramp down “street checks” (an interaction producing “identifying information … concerning an individual … that is not part of an investigation”) and “carding” (when “a police officer randomly asks an individual to provide identifying information when there is no objectively suspicious activity,” and the individual isn’t suspected of or to have knowledge of any offence, and the information winds up stored in a database).

Despite that, the city’s homicide count held steady at 57-59 per annum until 2016, when it spiked to 75. In 2017, the year the rules came fully into effect, the number dropped to 65, before soaring to 96 in 2018 — the highest in a decade.

The number of shooting incidents, meanwhile, has hardly budged since the new rules came into force: There were 406 in 2016, 390 in 2017 and 424 in 2018. Furthermore, some areas of the city where carding was most prevalent — Jane and Finch, Rexdale, Lawrence Heights — saw dramatic decreases in shooting incidents. Whereas getting guns off the street is a common justification for intrusive police tactics, such as New York City’s stop-question-and-frisk, firearm seizures in Toronto skyrocketed after the new regulations came into place. And other Ontario municipalities reported no similar surges in crime. Overall, homicides in Ontario dropped from 2016 to 2017.

In short, it’s far easier to make a case that carding has no effect at all on serious crime than that it has a huge one. But even if previous carding practice had “worked,” even if the new regulation had stopped it from working, it barely even amounts to a defence. As Tulloch notes, “the regulation simply gives effect to the existing law that people do not have to provide their identification when there are no reasonable grounds to believe the person has committed an offence.”

If carding “worked,” in other words, it relied on citizens not knowing or caring about their already-existing right to be left alone whilst minding their own business, or being too intimidated to exercise that right — as well they might be. Politely refusing an armed man or woman’s request to identify yourself is no small thing, all the more so if you have “nothing to hide.”

The problems inherent in such a situation are myriad. There are quantifiable harms: People were denied jobs and security clearances, and in at least one case menaced by child services, thanks to information stored in police databases that implicated them in nothing other than being included in a police database. And there are more existential harms. Imagine growing up with a squeaky-clean nose yet constantly feeling like a person of police interest. It’s profoundly alienating, especially when targets quite logically conclude, based on well-documented statistics if not their own intuition, that they’re being harassed because of their race, skin colour or some other innate characteristic. It’s no less insidious if the bias is unconscious; it might even be more so.

Nothing good can come from it, and plenty bad. It hinders police in solving crimes, for one thing: “When a segment of society believes that it has been unfairly targeted by the police,” Tulloch writes, “it will delegitimize the police in their eyes.” All those desperate calls for witnesses to come forward will be met more skeptically. Tulloch cites research showing “inappropriate interaction with police” can even “desensitize young people from guilt regarding potential acts of crime.”

Tulloch has scores of recommendations, including clarifying what he argues are overly complex rules for officers; requiring officers to tell people when a conversation is voluntary; including written reasons for the existence of any database record; and destroying those records automatically after five years.

As he says, the police have lots of powers at their disposal — including the power to stop and question people if officers have a legitimate, articulable “reason to believe the identifying information would be valuable police intelligence.” That still goes too far for some civil libertarians. But it’s maddening there are still people who object to the very idea of eliminating truly random stop-and-question policies; people who can’t grasp just how anathema that idea ought to be in a free society, how profoundly it undermines the social contract that underpins modern Western policing; people who could actually take issue with Tulloch’s most fundamental recommendation: “No police service should randomly stop people in order to collect and record identifying information and create a database for general intelligence purposes.”

Well, obviously.

Source: Chris Selley: Police carding ought to be an anathema in a free society. How is it still up for debate?

Little to no proof police carding has effect on crime or arrests: Ontario report

Significant study:

Police street checks widely known as carding have little to no value as a law enforcement tool and should be significantly limited across Ontario, a judge tasked with reviewing the practice said Monday.

The report from Justice Michael Tulloch outlines certain circumstances in which police may have legitimate grounds to conduct street checks, or stop people at random and request identifying information.

But Tulloch, who was hired by Ontario’s previous Liberal government to assess the effectiveness of new regulations meant to limit the impact of street checks on racialized groups, said those circumstances are very specific and the practice as a whole should be sharply curtailed.

“There is little to no evidence that a random, unfocused collection of identifying information has benefits that outweigh the social cost of the practice,” Tulloch wrote in his 310-page report.

“Given the social cost involved with a practice that has not definitively been shown to widely reduce or solve crime, it is recommended that the practice of randomly stopping individuals to gather their identifying information for the creation of a database for intelligence purposes be discontinued.”

Tulloch, who previously led a review into Ontario’s complex police oversight system, was asked to turn his attention to carding months after the previous government made moves to eliminate what it described as systemic racism in law enforcement.

Police oversight

Street checks started coming under intense scrutiny several years ago amid data showing officers were disproportionately stopping black and other racialized people.

In 2016, Ontario introduced rules dictating that police must inform people that they don’t have to provide identifying information during street checks, and that refusing to co-operate or walking away cannot then be used as reasons to compel information.

The aim was to end arbitrary stops, especially those based on race, though anti-carding advocates have called for the practice to be abolished entirely.

Race is prohibited as forming any part of a police officer’s reason for attempting to collect someone’s identifying information.

Police had long argued that street checks have value as an investigative tool, a notion Tulloch challenged in his report.

“A widespread program of random street checks involves considerable time and effort for a police service, with little to no verifiable results on the level of crime or even arrests,” he wrote. “Some police services reported that there are other ways to gather data or use data that they already have more effectively.”

Tulloch’s report also debunked the notion that carding had played a role in solving the high-profile killing of Cecilia Zhang, a nine-year-old girl who was abducted from her Toronto home in the middle of the night in 2003.

Tulloch said many of the more than 2,000 people consulted for the report cited the arrest of Min Chen, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in Zhang’s death, as an example of a carding success story. Tulloch said, however, that Chen’s name first came to be in police files as a result of a non-random stop that did not fit the definition of carding.

Chen was stopped in response to a complaint of illegal fishing filed weeks before the girl was killed, Tulloch said, adding the information gathered during that interaction later gained relevance when Chen’s name surfaced in the Zhang investigation.

“The Cecilia Zhang case does not support the proposition that the police should be authorized to randomly request and record identifying information,” Tulloch wrote. “It simply reinforces that when identifying information is properly obtained during a police investigation, as it was in that case, that information might be useful to help solve a crime.”

Additional recommendations

Tulloch said street checks have value in cases where there are clear suspicious circumstances, or when police need to identify the identity of a missing person or crime victim. Among his many recommendations to the new Progressive Conservative government were some stating the 2016 rules should not apply in such cases.

But other recommendations advise the government to take a harder line on street checks, tightening definitions of terms such as “identifying information” and “suspicious circumstances” and broadening protections during vehicle stops.

Tulloch also recommended an overhaul of the training that was put in place when the new rules took effect. He said it lacked the critical component of explaining why the changes were being made, which left some officers hesitant to get on board.

“Implementing new rules for police officers to follow has little value — and will not achieve the intended goal — if officers are not effectively and adequately trained on the reasons why the changes were necessary,” Tulloch wrote.

He also recommended officers at all levels “should learn how the widespread use of carding by some services and some officers has been abused in the past.”

Correctional Services Minister Sylvia Jones said the government is taking time to go through Tulloch’s findings, but said his work would “inform” efforts to reform police legislation in the province.

“We are committed to developing legislation that works for our police and for the people of Ontario,” Jones said in a statement. “Our new police legislation will reflect a simple principle: racism and discrimination have no place in policing.”

Source: Little to no proof police carding has effect on crime or arrests: Ontario report

Christie Blatchford: Police and blacks in Toronto: The numbers tell a hard truth

Lot of coverage on the just released report by the Ontario Human Rights Commission but picked Blatchford given her generally more sympathetic coverage of police issues, with her column all the more devastating as a result:

There is nothing like solid data — naked, objective, hard data — even for someone like me, who struggles mightily with numbers.

Numbers are what’s at the core of an Ontario Human Rights Commission report released Monday. I don’t know that it’s the first time the commission has backed up the anecdotal with hard data, but it’s the most astonishing such marriage I can remember.

The report includes analysis of data collected from the Special Investigations Unit, the arms-length agency that probes all serious incidents where police forces in Ontario inflict serious injuries upon civilians.

For the first time, it also includes a review of the SIU director’s reports, a rich trove of heretofore unreleased detail — including descriptions of the circumstances of each incident, assessments of the civilians involved and the justification behind the SIU director’s decision to charge or not charge police.

Using that information, plus SIU investigator notes, case photographs, police documents such as officer notes and even media reports (solely when race couldn’t be otherwise determined) the analyst — University of Toronto associate criminology professor Dr. Scot Wortley — examined 244 completed SIU investigations of civilian/Toronto Police Service encounters in the four years from 2013-2017.

In those years, black people made up about 8.8 per cent of the population in Toronto. Yet, shockingly, they also made up 70 per cent of police shootings that resulted in death, 61 per cent of other sorts of lethal force encounters, almost 29 per cent of all Toronto police use of force cases and fully one quarter of all SIU TPS investigations.

As Chief Commissioner Renu Mandhane said, “This inquiry is different from past initiatives. We will examine racial disparities in how police services are provided in Toronto and will marry hard data with lived experience and case law.”

The report is called A Collective Impact, the commission’s interim report on its inquiry into racial profiling and racial discrimination of black Torontonians by police.

Even its aim is different. “The goal of the inquiry is to build trust in law enforcement and make our communities safer,” Mandhane said. That’s exactly what such an inquiry should hope to do, but not all its predecessors have been so clear.

Now, to put this in perspective, it’s important to remember that Toronto police have about 30,000 encounters a year with those it calls “in crisis,” meaning people who are emotionally or mentally disturbed. About 97 or 98 per cent of these end without the use of any sort of force. And encounters with people in crisis account for a significant chunk of those who end up in use of force clashes — almost 30 per cent.

Another troubling note: In a “significant minority” of SIU cases, the SIU director had problems with Toronto Police co-operation, though, a small mercy, such problems were no worse in cases involving black citizens.

One of these issues was delayed or improper notification to the SIU; police are supposed to notify the unit immediately whenever a civilian has been seriously injured or died. Sometimes, police notes indicate there was early awareness someone had been badly hurt, but the SIU was still not called right away.

Sometimes, the SIU director questioned the legal basis for police to have stopped or detained the black person in the first place, or for conducting searches.

And black men were significantly over-represented in SIU investigations of sexual assault complaints — six times more likely than their numbers in the population would suggest.

The data lend heft to the “lived experiences” people have been hearing about for decades and which the commission heard about in focus groups — black Torontonians being stopped because they “matched the description” of a suspect, including a young black man who was running to school, excited about a special event, and was stopped in full view of his classmates, and a black man who earlier this year who was leaving his office and searched in front of his workmates and onlookers both.

“I was feeling embarrassed,” the youth told the commission. “This is not who I am. This is not who I want to be. After that, people were looking at me different, like I was a criminal or some type of thug.”

It’s funny, but not so long ago, I was in a room full of accomplished black citizens; this was the judicial discipline hearing into the conduct of Ontario Court Judge Donald McLeod, one of a few black faces on the bench. Many of them were upset that the hearing had even been called. McLeod is a distinguished man who made it to the bench from a hard background (single mom, subsidized housing) and who in his efforts to pay it forward by founding a non-profit national black organization allegedly crossed a line judges should not cross.

McLeod had been moved to act by the shooting of a pregnant young woman, which hit close to home; he’d gone to school with the young woman’s aunt.

There was a real sense of affront in the room, that somehow, even this good and honourable man who rose so high should have been brought down like this.

It’s not quite the same thing, rather a real sense of injury and injustice, when black people end up, in such out of whack numbers, dead or hurt after encounters with police. We leave it alone to fester at our peril.

Source: Christie Blatchford: Police and blacks in Toronto: The numbers tell a hard truth

Hate crimes reached all-time high in 2017, Statistics Canada says

 

The latest numbers from Statistics Canada, showing a substantial increase compared to previous years, most notably for religiously-motivated hate crimes:

The number of police-reported hate crimes reached an all-time high in 2017, largely driven by incidents targeting Muslim, Jewish and black people, according to Statistics Canada data released Thursday.

The federal agency said hate crimes have been steadily climbing since 2014, but shot up by some 47 per cent 2017, the last year for which data was collected. In total, Canadian police forces reported 2,073 hate crimes – the most since 2009, when data became available.

The increases were largely driven by incidents in Ontario and Quebec, Statistics Canada says. The agency said the increase may have been driven by more people reporting hateful incidents to police, although it says that many likely go unreported.

In the worst incident in the country, six Muslim men were shot to death and others were seriously injured during an attack on a Quebec City mosque in January 2017. This spring, 28-year-old Alexandre Bissonnette pleaded guilty, but said he was not Islamophobic and instead “carried away by fear and a horrible form of despair.”

Quebec reported a 50 per cent increase in the number of hate crimes in the month after the mass shooting, mainly driven by incidents with Muslims as the victims.

There was a record set in 2017 for the number of police-reported hate crimes in Canada. (CBC)

Police are also dealing with an increase in smaller incidents like hate-related property crimes.

Toronto police’s hate crime unit said it investigated 186 incidents — largely vandalism and graffiti — in 2017. In nearby Hamilton, police reported an 18 per cent increase in the number of what the force calls hate and bias incidents.

Overall, Ontario saw a 207 per cent increase in hate crimes against Muslims, an 84 per cent increase in crimes against black people and 41 per cent increase on incidents against Jewish people.

Alberta and British Columbia also reported increases in the number of incidents.

Community leaders call increase disturbing

Brittany Andrew-Amofah, of the Toronto-based Urban Alliance on Race Relations, said the increase in hate crimes is making communities feel less safe.

“It’s time for political leaders to unequivocally speak out against hate and intolerance and in support of a multicultural society where everyone feels safe to participate and contribute,” she said in a news release.

Avi Benlolo, President and CEO of Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, issued a statement saying while the new statistics aren’t surprising, they are alarming.

“It’s disturbing to hear that hate crime continues to increase in Canada and that the Jewish community – a community that is integrated into the Canadian mosaic — is still victimized,” he said.

Black people major targets, StatsCan reports

Across Canada, black people remained the most common targets of hate crimes based on race or ethnicity. Some 16 per cent of all incidents involved black victims.

Two per cent of police-reported hate crimes involved Indigenous people, according to the report, but it suggests a large number of all victims — possibly as high as two in three — didn’t file reports with authorities.

Hate crimes account for 0.1 per cent of the more than 1.9 million non-traffic crimes reported by Canadian police services in 2017. The agency defines hate crimes as “criminal incidents that, upon investigation by police, are found to have been motivated by hatred toward an identifiable group.”

Source: Hate crimes reached all-time high in 2017, Statistics Canada says

Racial profiling concerns raised after ‘DNA sweep’ targeting Middle Eastern men alleged in B.C.

Of note:

Civil liberties watchdogs say they’re troubled by a recent media report that suggested homicide investigators in B.C. targeted numerous Middle Eastern men in a voluntary DNA collection “sweep” as part of their investigation into the killing of a teenager.

The use of a DNA dragnet, they say, raises immediate concerns about racial profiling, coercion and the targeting of vulnerable populations, as well as questions about what’s done with DNA samples after they’ve been collected.

“If you’re trying to build trust in communities to further your investigation, make this something people will find credible,” said Micheal Vonn, policy director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.

The body of 13-year-old Marrisa Shen was found in a wooded area of Central Park in Burnaby, B.C., in July 2017, prompting a massive investigation that at its peak eclipsed 300 investigators.

Two months ago, the region’s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) announced that a suspect, Ibrahim Ali, 28, had been arrested and charged with first-degree murder. Ali, a permanent resident of Canada, had arrived in the country in March 2017 as a privately sponsored refugee from Syria.

Police would not say how they homed in on Ali. During their 14-month investigation, they canvassed more than 1,300 residents, conducted 600 interviews and identified and eliminated 2,000 “persons of interest.”  The killing was said to have been a random act.

This week, the Burnaby Now newspaper reported that prior to Ali’s arrest, police had approached numerous Middle Eastern men across the region — including those who escaped “persecution in totalitarian regimes” — asking them if they would voluntarily provide samples of their DNA.

One of those men, Ayub Faek, fled Iraq as a refugee and came to Canada in the early 2000s. He said homicide investigators called him out of the blue and asked if they could come talk to him.

“When they came, I asked them, ‘Why me?’ and they say, ‘Not only you; many people,’” Faek told the newspaper. “I said, ‘Do you have clue like about why, for example, me?’ Maybe they have clue. They didn’t tell me. They didn’t tell me anything.”

Faek said he was asked about his work and visits to the park and was shown Shen’s picture. He agreed to provide a sample of his blood from his finger. “You don’t want to do that … but you have to say yes,” he said.

The Burnaby Now also spoke with Ariyan Fadhil, another Burnaby resident who fled Iraq in the early 2000s. He said he was questioned in a van during his lunch break and agreed to give a DNA sample.

“I knew that, if they want, they’re going to get an order from court or something, I don’t know, to take it from me, so that’s why I gave it,” he said.

Both men told the paper they were skeptical about the assurances they got that their DNA samples would be destroyed after the investigation was complete.

Cpl. Frank Jang, a spokesman for IHIT, said in an email Wednesday that it would be improper to comment while the case is before the courts.

“What I can tell you is that IHIT strictly adheres to Canadian law and RCMP policy with respect to the handling of DNA exhibits.”

The RCMP’s website states that DNA profiles must be removed from a database in a “timely manner” if the donor asks for its removal or if it is no longer useful in the investigation for which it was obtained.

But Vonn said police agencies should take the extra step of providing written verification to people that samples have been destroyed.

“You should be able to take that to the bank,” she said.

As for the act of collecting DNA samples in the first place, Vonn said while it is described as voluntary, there’s still an inevitable “element of coercion” involved because if you don’t agree to give a sample, that could make you a target of suspicion.

“No doubt police are very alive to how delicate a balance this is,” she said. “In other cases, we’ve heard in media reports people say the officer made it clear, ‘You don’t do this. We’ll put you under a microscope.’”

The use of DNA sweeps has come under scrutiny in the past. In 2016, in response to a complaint, Ontario’s Office of the Independent Police Review Director examined the use of the technique by Ontario Provincial Police detectives investigating a sexual assault in Bayham, a rural municipality in southwestern Ontario.

While police succeeded in finding the culprit — a migrant worker from Trinidad — the review found that the DNA canvass carried out by police had been “overly broad.”

DNA was obtained from virtually “every local migrant worker of colour,” regardless of physical characteristics, the review found.

The scope of the DNA sweep “could reasonably be expected to have an impact on the migrant workers’ sense of vulnerability, lack of security and fairness. It could also send the wrong message to others in the local community about how migrant workers, as a group, should be regarded,” the review found.

And while DNA samples of those individuals cleared in the investigation were destroyed, the OPP “took no steps” to notify migrant workers this had taken place.

Dozens of migrant workers from that case have since filed complaints with the Human Rights Council of Ontario.

And one of those workers is the plaintiff in a proposed class-action lawsuit against the province of Ontario alleging that the results of DNA samples collected in this and other cases have been retained unlawfully.

Source: Racial profiling concerns raised after ‘DNA sweep’ targeting Middle Eastern men alleged in B.C.

Un élu presse le SPVM (Montreal police) d’intégrer le hijab et le turban

Other police services have managed to do so:

Le Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) doit autoriser ses agents à porter le hijab ou le turban, réclame un élu montréalais. Le conseiller Marvin Rotrand estime que le silence du corps policier sur ces accessoires religieux représente une barrière invisible pour les communautés culturelles.

Marvin Rotrand a récemment écrit à la responsable de la sécurité publique de Montréal, Nathalie Goulet, afin de réclamer l’intégration du hijab et du turban dans l’uniforme réglementaire du SPVM. «Ça envoie un message positif aux communautés : “Vous êtes les bienvenus. Si vous avez les qualifications, vous réussissez les tests, personne ne va s’opposer à votre candidature”», écrit M. Rotrand dans la lettre obtenue par La Presse.

Démarche en 2016

Ce n’est pas la première fois que l’élu presse le SPVM d’inscrire noir sur blanc que ces signes religieux soient acceptés dans l’uniforme des agents. En 2016, le corps policier lui avait répondu ne pas avoir «de politique précise en lien avec le port d’un hijab, ni un modèle d’approuvé». «Toutefois, nous restons ouverts à évaluer toute éventuelle demande à ce sujet.»

La Presse a tenté de savoir si le SPVM avait mis à jour ses politiques depuis deux ans, mais nous n’avons pas reçu de réponse à ce jour.

Marvin Rotrand estime que le SPVM fait fausse route en attendant de recevoir des demandes pour modifier ses règles. Le simple fait de ne pas intégrer le hijab représente une barrière invisible, selon lui.

«La communauté musulmane ne devrait pas avoir à le demander. On devrait le modifier avant. Ça ne devrait pas reposer sur les épaules des minorités de demander un traitement équitable.»

Plusieurs corps policiers ont déjà modifié leurs règles vestimentaires pour autoriser le hijab et le turban, dont Toronto et Edmonton. La Gendarmerie royale du Canada (GRC) a intégré le turban en novembre 1990 et le hijab en janvier 2016.

En fait, la police montée fournit même des hijabs et des turbans qui ont été approuvés. Ceux-ci ont fait l’objet d’essais pour s’assurer qu’ils ne nuisent pas au travail des agents. «Les essais ont démontré que le port du hijab et du turban ne nuit pas à l’efficacité des membres dans l’exercice de leurs fonctions», indique la sergente Marie Damian, porte-parole de la GRC.

Autorisation et déclaration

À noter, les policiers qui veulent être exemptés du port du chapeau traditionnel de feutre de la GRC doivent obtenir une autorisation et faire une déclaration de croyance religieuse. Depuis 2013, seulement onze policiers ont porté le turban et une seule policière a demandé à porter le hijab.

«Je m’explique mal comment d’autres corps policiers canadiens ont su adapter leurs exigences en matière d’uniforme afin de faciliter l’intégration des femmes musulmanes dans leurs rangs alors que la Ville de Montréal n’a toujours pas agi en ce sens», se désole M. Rotrand.

Selon lui, le SPVM se prive de candidats de qualité. Il estime par exemple que le corps policier n’aurait jamais recruté Harjit Singh Sajjan, l’actuel ministre de la Défense, qui a servi au sein de la police de Vancouver et en Afghanistan au sein des Forces armées.

via Un élu presse le SPVM d’intégrer le hijab et le turban | Pierre-André Normandin | Grand Montréal

Toronto police reaction to Marci Ien shows woeful ignorance of racism basics | Shree Paradkar

Good commentary on the difference between systemic and individual racism:

A predictable quality about air bubbles is that they always rise to the surface.

So it is with the light weight of ignorance.

Late last week, a senior Toronto police officer went on Twitter to dispute journalist Marci Ien’s account in the Globe and Mail of race playing a factor in being pulled over for the third time in eight months, and this time in her own driveway. She described the subsequent and now all-too-familiar fear and uncertainty and anxiety and fatigue of DWB, or Driving While Black.

She said she did nothing wrong, and was not given a ticket.

“You failed to stop at a stop sign,” a tweet by Staff Supt. Mario Di Tommaso read in part. “It was dark. Your race was not visible on the video and only became apparent when you stepped out of the vehicle in your driveway.”

His views were echoed by Deputy Chief Shawna Coxon.

“We are accountable,” she wrote on Twitter. “The whole event (incl. the traffic infraction) is on camera. The ethnicity of the driver is not visible until after she was pulled over, when she exits the car.”

Then Toronto Police Association chief Mike McCormack swooped in with a spectacular bit of you-asked-for-it-ism, tweeting an excerpt from a 2005 Globe and Mail interview of Ien where she said she liked speeding.

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She said this in 2005. Therefore she must deserve being pulled over three times in 2017-18.

Unsurprisingly, they led the conversation down the path to square one: Was it racism or not?

What is worth noting is that a police force that talks of building relations with the Black community and setting up “sensitivity training” remains out of its depth even with the basics of racism.

Racism isn’t just about intent. It’s also about outcomes.

Racism can occur without anyone having to be a racist — or without someone being actively prejudiced against a person of colour.

A Black person could be stopped five times by five different police officers, without any officer consciously disliking Black people.

For having the courage to share her story, Ien is now placed in the centre of a circle of doubt, a position that so many people of colour find themselves in when they speak of their experiences.

Disrespected, based on her account, by the cop who stopped her.

Disbelieved, humiliated and dismissed by the cops who challenged her story.

When police spokesperson Mark Pugash told the Star, “Ms. Ien has made some very serious allegations and we would encourage her to file a complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director,” he means she should initiate a process that would hinge on proving whether the individual officer who stopped her was racist.

Nowhere in Ien’s piece is the allegation that the man who stopped her was racist.

But Pugash, and indeed his senior brass, depressingly show no understanding of systemic racism; in this case, a system not set up to mitigate a bundle of experiences that belong to the umbrella of racism.

What is being asked of Ien is to ignore the countless experiences and stories of humiliation, and manhandling by police. Ignore the needless deaths, some captured on videos that have scarred so many.

Ignore all those individual stories that stitch together to show a pattern of racial profiling and prove this particular incident to be racist.

In her book So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo says, “Those who demand the smoking gun of a racial slur or swastika or burning cross before they believe that an individual encounter with the police might be about race are ignoring what we know and what the numbers are bearing out …We are being targeted.”

Data from traffic stops found that Ottawa police are more likely to pull over disproportionate numbers of Black (and Middle Eastern) drivers.

Black people are three times more likely to be street checked in Halifax, according to information released by the Halifax Regional Police.

In Toronto, the seven-year long Black Experience Project found 79 per cent of Black men between the ages of 25 and 44 have been stopped by police in public places.

How Black people (and Indigenous people and other marginalized people) experience police is different from how people with specific status of race and age and wealth experience police. How we all experience police at the point of help is different from how we do at the point of criminalization.

“The power and corruption that enable police brutality put all citizens, of every race, at risk. But it does not put us at risk equally, and the numbers bear that out,” writes Oluo.

An individualistic society lead by those with status whose interests the police uphold has no impetus for changing the system.

And the wilfully ignorant, they go along for the ride.

via Toronto police reaction to Marci Ien shows woeful ignorance of racism basics | Toronto Star

The double standard of driving while black – in Canada: Marci Ten

Speaks for itself:

Another sleepless night. I keep thinking about what happened. I keep thinking about what could have happened. What was meant to be a quiet Sunday evening last week turned into something else. That I am an award-winning journalist didn’t matter. That I co-host a national television show didn’t matter. That I have lived in the neighbourhood for 13 years didn’t matter.

But being black mattered. Maybe the hooded parka I was wearing mattered, too. I was being stopped by a police officer in my driveway outside of my house in Toronto.

I was at home. My safe place. And I was scared.

How often does this scenario play out? A lot more often than we want to admit. Canada is one of the most diverse countries in the world, but racism permeates every aspect of our society. We like to point fingers at the racial discord in the United States, but fail to acknowledge our shortcomings here at home. Our country has to get its own house in order before patting itself on the back for being a paragon of racial harmony.

The black community’s relationship with the police in this country has been well-documented and much written about: If you are a person of colour in Canada, you experience a profoundly different – and sometimes troubling – relationship with the law. When we hear about incidents involving people of colour and the police, or other enforcement agencies, they seem to mostly involve black men – my father and husband included. But this is not an experience limited to men, as I have personally come to understand.

For the third time in eight months, I was being questioned by a police officer – and I had broken no law.

I had just driven my daughter to my sister’s house for a sleepover. The streets were unusually quiet as I pulled into my driveway. A police cruiser was parked behind me – lights flashing. I got out of my car to ask him why he was there.

“Get back in your vehicle!”

“Pardon?” I asked, alarmed by his tone.

“Get back in your vehicle!”

I quickly got back into my car and shut the door. As he approached, I cracked the door open to hear what he had to say. He told me to close it, and then gestured for me to lower the window. As the window lowered, I looked up at him – at his uniform, his stance, his eyes – and wondered: “What now?” I felt a queasiness in my stomach. I felt powerless, but summoned some strength. I’m not going to break, I told myself. I will remain calm.

But I’m not calm. I’m frustrated. I’m angry. I don’t deserve this. Not now, nor the previous times I had been pulled over. “I want to let you know you’re being recorded,” he informed me. “You failed to stop at a stop sign back there. That’s dangerous, there’s a school there … lots of kids.” I told him my daughter attends that school, silently giving thanks she wasn’t with me. He asked for my ID, and I handed over my licence, registration and ownership.

As he perused them he asked me if I live here. “Yes,” I said. When he returned to his cruiser, my reporter instincts kicked in: I texted my family to let them know what was happening, so there was a definitive record of time and place. My phone started ringing – it was my sister.

I answered and quickly explained what was going on. She told me, repeatedly, to get his badge number. In the background, I heard my mom asking if I was okay. I hung up.

Next came a panicked text from my daughter asking why a police cruiser was in our driveway – apparently a friend and neighbour had seen the flashing lights and contacted her to ask what was happening. I texted back that an officer said I had rolled through a red, referring to the flashing red stop light in front of my daughter’s school. A couple seconds later, the officer returns. “I’m going to give you a warning. Be careful driving out there.”

“If I’ve done something wrong give me the ticket,” I said. “I’m prepared to pay it.”

I went on to tell him that this marked the third time in the past eight months that I had been stopped by police. Every time the initial questions had been the same: “Do you live around here? Is this your vehicle?” In every case, I wasn’t issued a ticket.

Then I asked the officer point blank: “How do I explain this to my kids? I teach them to be respectful, fair and kind, but I’m not feeling respected, served or protected right now.”

He looked at me, bid me good night and walked away.

But there is no walking away from the truth. The stop signal at my daughter’s school is half a kilometre away; why wasn’t I pulled over there? Why did he follow me home? Why, after seeing the address on my driver’s licence, did he still ask if I lived at my home?

Who you are doesn’t matter; it’s what you are. If you are black in Canada, you are subject to a different standard and, often, seemingly, different laws.

So how do we fix this? There are no easy answers, but one solution would be to start with our kids. We know that children are not born with prejudice. Racism is learned. A study by renowned Harvard psychologist and racism expert Mahzarin Banaji shows that biases can be instilled as early as 3.

What if tolerance and empathy are prioritized in the early stages of childhood? We’ve seen far too many times what happens when they’re not. Bottom line – when we do better, our kids do better. Only then can we precipitate change.

I lingered behind the wheel for a long while, too shaken to go inside. So many thoughts. I finally forced myself to get out of the car, walked to the front door and slowly turned the key.

via The double standard of driving while black – in Canada – The Globe and Mail

The SRO [police in Toronto schools] program is over. What happens next? Phillip Dwight Morgan

The activist view:

In 2008, without community consultation, the Toronto District School Board and Toronto Police Service agreed to place police officers in select high schools around the city. The result was a program where some Black and Brown students said they felt targeted, harassed and intimidated, and where some undocumented students reportedly feared for their safety.

Since its inception, the School Resource Officer (SRO) program has faced allegations of racism and discrimination as community members and organizations have questioned how a program that placed police in the schools of largely racialized communities could possibly improve circumstances for youth already being pushed out by academic streaming, increased suspension rates and low teacher expectations. As time passed, the picture became clearer: SROs largely intimidated, harassed and criminalized Black, Brown and Indigenous youth, and allegedly threatened the safety of undocumented students.

That program is now over. At a Nov. 22 meeting, after a six-week review process, trustees from the largest school board in Canada voted overwhelmingly to terminate the program.

Make no mistake: the landmark decision is the result of years of pressure from students, parents, youth workers and concerned citizens. These people repeatedly reminded the board that it was utterly unacceptable to accept Black, Brown, Indigenous and undocumented youth as collateral damage in the push to improve Toronto’s schools. “It is time for school boards across the province and country to acknowledge the ways in which educational policies and practices continue to be shaped by ongoing histories of colonialism and racism,” says Gita Rao Madan, who studied policing in schools for her master’s thesis at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

Still, how did a program with such a terrible track record continue for nearly a decade? The sad fact of the matter is that the people most affected by the program were those at the intersection of two deeply oppressive institutions—policing and education—that routinely worked to silence them. Those people, who faced harassment and profiling both inside the classroom and out on the street, had little access to the levers of change.

In response to community concern in the past, the TDSB and TPS had deflected criticism by pointing to so-called “success stories” from the program—accounts of students who loved the baking club being run by Officer Jane or the volleyball team coached by Const. Jim. These are the narratives and images that the TPS and TDSB offered to the public whenever the program faced scrutiny. Now that the program has been terminated, its supporters will likely evoke these images with even greater verve.

But a line of reasoning that asks communities to ignore the experiences of children being pushed out of schools and to instead celebrate the child who loves Officer Jim betrays a failed understanding of the history of community policing in Toronto on the part of those in positions of power. It shows a reluctance to concede that carding, police harassment, intimidation and violence do not stop at the school’s entrance. It is not rooted in equity. Earlier this May, Police Chief Mark Saunders responded to concerns expressed about the program at a Toronto Police Services Board meeting by noting that a 2011 evaluation of the program showed 58 per cent of students felt safer with SROs. In response, TPS Board member Dhun Noria injected an important reminder: “You mentioned, chief, that 58 per cent of the respondents felt safe [with SROs]. This leaves 42 per cent who do not feel safe. Do we have a report about that? Why do they not feel safe and what have we done about that?”

via The SRO program is over. What happens next? – Macleans.ca

Poll: 6 In 10 Black Americans Say Police Unfairly Stopped Them Or A Relative : NPR

More interesting polling data confirming what we already know or suspect. Will be interesting to compare these findings with those of other groups that NPR will report on in coming weeks:

A new poll out this week from NPR finds that 60 percent of black Americans say they or a family member have been stopped or treated unfairly by police because they are black. In addition, 45 percent say they or a family member have been treated unfairly by the courts because they are black. The poll is a collaboration between NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The poll reveals the consequences of these stops for black Americans personally and across society — 31 percent of poll respondents say that fear of discrimination has led them to avoid calling the police when in need. And 61 percent say that where they live, police are more likely to use unnecessary force on a person who is black than on a white person in the same situation.

Previous polls have asked similar questions, but ours is unique in that it’s the first to ask about lifetime experiences with policing. It’s part of NPR’s ongoing series “You, Me and Them: Experiencing Discrimination in America.”

A Pew Research poll in 2016 asked whether people had been unfairly stopped by police because of race or ethnicity in the previous 12 months and found that 18 percent of black people said yes. A 2015 CBS News/New York Times poll asked whether this had ever happened and found 41 percent of black people said yes.

Our poll differs from Pew in that we asked not only about a much longer period but also whether people had been unfairly stopped or treated because of their race or ethnicity. We differ from CBS in that we included the word “unfairly.” We also differ from both the Pew and CBS polls because we asked whether a person or a family member had had this experience, which gives us a better sense of the presence of these experiences in respondents’ life and surroundings.

The black American data from our poll, released Tuesday, were compiled from 802 black Americans as part of a large national representative probability survey of 3,453 adults from Jan. 26 to April 9. The margin of error for the full black American sample is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

NPR will be reporting and releasing the results of the poll over the next several weeks for several groups, including Latinos, whites, Native Americans, Asian-Americans and LGBTQ adults.

Source: Poll: 6 In 10 Black Americans Say Police Unfairly Stopped Them Or A Relative : Code Switch : NPR