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Dear members and allies of the African Canadian community:
Introducing Black Is NOT A Crime.: A Police Accountability Project
The issue of racial profiling is once again on the agenda of the Toronto Police Services Board (“TPSB”). On January 23, 2013 at 1:30pm at Toronto Police Services (“TPS”) Headquarters, 40 College Street, the TPSB will once again meet to address anti-Black racism by the TPS.
As many of you know, at the November meeting of the TPSB, many community members were denied entry and/or barred from sharing their concerns with the Board. (For more information visit: http://metronews.ca/news/toronto/440598/toronto-police-board-delays-issuing-street-check-receipts/)
Black Is NOT A Crime. (“BINAC”), a new project aimed at addressing and ending racial profiling by the police in Ontario, offers a creative and powerful way for our voices to be heard.
If you visit www.blackisnotacrime.ca, and purchase a BINAC t-shirt, tank top and/or hooded sweatshirt, you can speak out against the practice of racial profiling without having to say a word. Those of you who purchase BINAC merchandise can also sign up to receive updates on upcoming meetings and events aimed at ensuring that the people who are most directly impacted by the discriminatory practices of the TPS and other police services take an active role in putting and end to the practice.
ALL of the proceeds from the sale of the BINAC merchandise will go towards developing a number of public information initiatives and innovative tools aimed at increasing police accountability and ending racial profiling once and for all. Visit www.blackisnotacrime.ca in the coming months to learn more.
“Racial profiling is criminal profiling based on race. Racial or colour profiling refers to that phenomenon whereby certain criminal activity is attributed to an identified group in society on the basis of race or colour resulting in the targeting of individual members of that group. In this context, race is illegitimately used as a proxy for the criminality or general criminal propensity of an entire racial group.”
- R. v. Richards, 1999 CanLII 1602 (ON CA)
The phenomenon of racial profiling and/or racial discrimination by police services in Ontario has been documented in numerous studies and reports, including the Arthur Maloney Report (1975), the Report of the Race Relations and Policing Task Force (1989), the Stephen Lewis Report on Race Relations (1992), the Commission on Systemic Racism in the Criminal Justice System (1995), and the Report of the Board/Service Race Relations Joint Working Group (2002). While every report has made recommendations, and police services have undertaken training to address this issue, the phenomenon continues to occur at an alarming rate.
In March 2012, the Toronto Star published a news series detailing the prevalence of anti-Black racism in policing. The Star reported that if you are African Canadian and you do something wrong — use illegal drugs, drive without car insurance — your chances of getting caught are much greater than your white counterpart. Specifically,
African Canadians make up 8.4% of Toronto’s population but account for 3 times as many contacts with police;
African Canadian males aged 15-24 are stopped and documented 2.5 times more than white males;
differences between African Canadian and white carding rates are highest in more affluent, mostly white areas of the city.
As a result of public outcry in response to the Star series, this issue was again placed on the agenda of the Toronto Police Services Board.
In April 2012, the TPSB requested that the City of Toronto Auditor General analyze disaggregated race-based data, provide quarterly reports and make recommendations to the TPSB. Further, Chief William Blair was ordered by the TPSB to provide carbon copies of “contact” or “208” cards to every individual for which information is collected.
At the July 2012 TPSB meeting, Chief Blair requested an extension of time to determine the feasibility of providing carbon copies. At the August 2012 TPSB meeting, in response to community pressure, the TPSB ordered the Service to adopt interim measures to address this issue (e.g. the provision of receipts or business cards to each person ‘carded’).
At the November 2012 TPSB meeting, the Board decided that Chief Blair should report to its next meeting on the form of the receipt and on 208 cards in general. Ultimately, while the Chief did submit a report in December, the TPSB decided that it would be more appropriate to consider the report at its January 2013 meeting as opposed to rushing it in December without any public notice. The TPSB is scheduled to meet on 23 January 2013 at 1:30pm at TPS Headquarters, 40 College Street, Toronto.
Black Is NOT A Crime.