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? –

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

ICYMI: Critics say TDSB rushed vote to suspend program that puts police in high schools | Toronto Star

Getting the process right, including gathering evidence, is as important as the substance. The Board failed in this regard (see Christie Blatchford: School policing program latest casualty of the tyranny of a minority):

The Toronto District School Board’s decision to suspend a controversial program that places armed police officers in high schools has come under criticism from officials who say the move was made in haste. But advocacy group Black Lives Matter said the decision marked a step forward.

TDSB trustees voted Wednesday night to discontinue the Student Resource Officer initiative, pending a review of the practice, due in November.

“It was felt that the presence of (officers) during the review when we were asking people to talk about them might be intimidating and create a potential bias,” TDSB Chair Robin Pilkey told the Star.

About 16 votes were cast in favour of suspension and six votes were cast against, said Pilkey, who voted to suspend.

The Student Resource Officer program, in place since 2008, has garnered a mix of praise and criticism since its inception. Some students, parents and school staff have said the presence of armed, uniformed police improves safety, and gives teens a chance to get to know local officers.

Others have expressed concern that the program leads to criminalization of relatively minor schoolyard problems and alienates marginalized students who may not feel comfortable around police.

In June, the TDSB ordered a review of the program to take place this fall.

A report on the planning for the TDSB review of the program was scheduled for Wednesday night’s board meeting, prompting Trustee Marit Stiles to draft a motion for the program suspension.

“Earlier in the day, I circulated to all trustees a motion I intended to introduce related to the report (on the review),” Stiles told the Star. “It was introduced during the meeting as business arising from the (review) report.”

The trustees debated the suspension issue for at least an hour, Stiles added.

The decision to suspend the program was “unfortunate,” Mayor John Tory told reporters on Thursday.

The Toronto Police Services Board, of which Tory is a member, has commissioned its own review of the SRO program, to be completed in Spring 2018.

“The school board decided they would take a different approach, and, before that review is done, cancel the program,” Tory said.

“I wasn’t prepared to rush to judgment to say the program was perfect or imperfect,” he added.

At least one trustee has said board officials should have been given time to consult their communities before the vote.

Trustees would normally have a week or two to discuss a motion like this, “but we had no chance to do any of that,” Trustee Pamela Gough, who voted against the suspension, said.

“My decision last night not to support it was basically a status quo until we hear the evidence and we hear the voices of the people actually in the schools,” she added.

“Evidence-based decision making is better than taking a stab in the dark on a topic, especially when the motion, came with such short notice.”

Stiles acknowledged that not all the trustees were comfortable with suspending the SRO program, but added that officials have had ample time to consider the public’s feelings about the practice.

“We’ve been talking about the future of the SRO program for quite some time,” Stiles said.

“I think if enough trustees were concerned about that we would have seen a vote against the motion,” Stiles added.

The controversy over the Student Resource Officer program erupted in May after a review of the nearly decade-old program was one of the items on the agenda of the Toronto police board meeting. A group of teachers and school workers presented a detailed report about the negative impact the program in schools. A motion to suspend the program was deferred to June.

Things became more heated at the June board meeting, where 74 people spoke against uniformed police officers in school. Protestors from Black Lives Matter and other groups filled the auditorium at police headquarters. The meeting was disrupted a couple of times as tensions rose and board members were heckled. At the end of a long night, the board decided to postpone the decision over the motion until the end of the year.

It was no different during the board’s August meeting where Toronto police chief Mark Saunders presented a plan to have Ryerson University perform a review of the contested program. Activists attended the meeting calling for board members to resign. They also carried signs saying “We’re here for Dafonte,” in reference to Black teen Dafonte Miller who was allegedly beaten by an off-duty Toronto police officer and his brother.

Responding to the decision of the TDSB to suspend the program, Black Lives Matter put out a statement: “Last night, Toronto District School Board Trustees voted to temporarily suspend the School Resource Officer (SRO) program for the start of the school year. The program will be suspended to allow for the TDSB to conduct a review of the program, its effectiveness, and hear from students from marginalized communities about their experiences with cops in schools.

“While this is not a full victory, this is an important step forward. After years of activism from groups like Education Not Incarceration (ENI), and the Latinx, Afro-Latin-America, Abya Yala Education Network (LAEN), the TDSB has undertaken a thorough review of the program to happen throughout the fall.

“Toronto Police Services Board are also conducting their own (questionable) review of the program. This review will be overseen by a committee comprised of TPS board chair, the Chief of Police, amongst others. We remain skeptical of any instance in which cops are reviewing other cops.

“It’s time to hear from students themselves about their experiences with police surveillance, criminalization, profiling, and their experiences with armed police officers in their classrooms. The work has only begun.”

Forty-six of the TDSB’s 113 high schools had student resources officers in 2016-2017, though one has since closed and three others suspended the program due to “schedule issues.”

Five schools have an officer assigned solely to them last year. The rest shared one or two officers with other TDSB and Toronto Catholic District School board institutions.

The SRO program has been in place since 2008, instituted in large part as a response to the murder of 15-year-old Jordan Manners, in the halls of C.W. Jefferys Collegiate Institute in North York.

As part of the TDSB’s review of the SRO program, the board’s research department will conduct a written survey of staff and students at participating schools.

Source: Critics say TDSB rushed vote to suspend program that puts police in high schools | Toronto Star

Australian woman’s death reveals the human toll of a police shooting: Kevin Cokley

Good analysis of how both sides tend to exploit the shooting to further their positions:

The shooting of Justine Damond provides low-hanging fruit for debates about racial bias in police shootings. One cynical writer observed that Ms. Damond’s death presents a dilemma among white people, in that they have to decide whether the “blue life” of black Mr. Noor matters more than the white life of Justine Damond. Intentionally polemical, this train of thought maintains that blue lives matter only when police kill unarmed black people, that white people do not get upset over the deaths of innocent black women and men, and that white people will often try to justify why a black individual was shot but never do this in the case of a white victim.

Others will argue that the fact a white woman was killed illustrates there is no systematic racial bias among police officers. They will say that the colour of Ms. Damond’s skin had no bearing on Mr. Noor’s reaction, and that police do the best job that they can given the stressful job they have. Still others will focus on the fact that Mr. Noor was black and a Muslim, and use this to perpetuate racist, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric. Fox News has been especially interested in the nationality of Mr. Noor, with over half of their segments on the story mentioning his Somali background. Juxtapose Fox News coverage with CNN mentioning his Somali background only twice (after prompting) and MSNBC not mentioning it at all.

To be clear, the shooting death of Ms. Damond is ostensibly not about race. It appears to be a very unfortunate set of events where a skittish police officer was startled and used deadly force on an individual he did not see. Mr. Noor was, by all accounts, a soft-spoken and humble man who left a better-paying job to serve his community and bridge the divide between the police, African Americans and the immigrant community. He had taken several training courses and passed all of his gun qualifications. Justine Damond was a beloved individual who worked as a spiritual healer, led meditation workshops and was characterized as being passionate and “the most loving woman.”

Yet, unsurprisingly, in a country stained by racism and constant media coverage of excessive police force against black people, what should be the inconsequential fact of the racial and cultural backgrounds of Justine Damond and Mohamed Noor has now been made consequential by the likes of Fox News and other conservative outlets. Some of these outlets have tried to politicize the shooting by using the race of Ms. Damond and Mr. Noor to further criticize the Black Lives Matter movement, claiming that Black Lives Matter activists have not been as outspoken about the death of a white woman as they have been about the deaths of black people.

This has proven to be blatantly false, as Black Lives Matter activists were involved in organizing and protesting shortly after reporting of the shooting. One Black Lives Matter activist indicated that it was important to respond because the issue has never really been about race, but about police accountability.

Former Republican congresswoman Michele Bachmann added her own racially inflammatory commentary when she talked about the growing Somali population in Minnesota and characterized Mr. Noor as an “affirmative-action hire by the hijab-wearing mayor of Minneapolis” killing a “beautiful, 40-year-old Australian woman” for potentially cultural reasons. Ms. Bachmann’s shameful response underscores the current climate in the United States, where the election of Donald Trump has resulted in the open expression of prejudice and a coarsening of public discourse.

Perhaps the saddest commentary is that instead of focusing on the shooting for what it really is – a police officer’s error that resulted in the tragic loss of life – some have chosen to instead score political points and make this about race and religion. This shooting was not about race. This shooting was not about religion. The fact that this even needs to be said says more about the climate of racial tensions and Islamophobia in the United States than it does about the tragic events involving Mr. Noor and Justine Damond.

Source: Australian woman’s death reveals the human toll of a police shooting – The Globe and Mail

How police became the enemy in Toronto schools: Cohn

Good insightful column by Regg Cohn. Activists have the right to opinions and protests but ultimately the democratic process and accountability must decide:

Uniformed police have now been banned from participating in Toronto’s Pride parade.

Will they next be barred from fraternizing with students in our schools?

Anti-police protests have become a recurring theme in Toronto. Black Lives Matter led the charge at last year’s Pride, blocking the parade and out-organizing the organizers until they won the day.

Now, however, the protesters may have met their match in parents and principals who don’t view all police as perennial enemies in all places.

At a raucous meeting of Toronto’s Police Services Board this month, BLM protesters found themselves being challenged by people of colour who are taking a more colour-blind view of security, safety and pedagogy.

Critics describe the School Resource Officer (SRO) program as a “school to prison pipeline,” arguing that police pick on marginalized — read, racialized — students. But when police board member Ken Jeffers suggested last week that it be suspended or terminated like a truant student, the reaction may have surprised him.

One woman in the audience shouted back that he should ponder the blood shed by Blacks because of violence in our schools. As my colleague Andrea Gordon reported, a procession of principals, teachers and students from diverse racial backgrounds expressed strong support for the police presence — though it didn’t seem to influence BLM’s view.

The SRO program is not unique to Toronto but it is uniquely controversial here. Vancouver, Ottawa, Mississauga and other big cities have embraced the idea of placing police in schools, where it remains popular.

That’s not to say the program is perfect. But we should remember that the perfect is the enemy of the good — even if the police are sometimes seen by many as the enemy.

Whatever its flaws, the program has indisputably benefited many students and teachers in the trenches. An independent study of a similar SRO program in Peel suggests the presence of cops is an “overwhelmingly positive” confidence-building and relationship-building measure.

Measuring its impact is undoubtedly difficult. To its credit, the police board ultimately decided to defer any suspension until the Toronto program is properly evaluated. That didn’t stop Black Lives Matter from dismissing any review as a “dangerous side tactic.”

BLM is entitled to its protests, which had a cascading effect on the Pride parade — a private (albeit publicly subsidized) group that can make its own decisions in its own ways. Unlike Pride, the police services board — like our Toronto-area school boards — is a democratically constituted entity answerable to our elected councillors, who are accountable to the broad public and especially parents. Pressure tactics are part of our civil discourse, but representative democracy ought not to be held hostage to protests weighed down by historical grievances about police raids on gay bathhouses three decades ago.

It’s easy to forget the impetus for police in our schools. A decade ago, Grade 9 student Jordan Manners, 15, was fatally shot in the hallway of C.W. Jefferys Collegiate. In the aftermath, Toronto’s two publicly funded school boards teamed up with the police to introduce the SRO program.

The C.W. Jefferys school initially resisted the idea, but later embraced it after another teen was stabbed and yet another caught with a loaded handgun. Its current principal, Monday Gala, is a strong supporter:

“If you come into Jefferys today and see the positivity that is going on organized by this partnership with the police, you can’t deny the fact that there is a place for the police in the school,” he told the Star.

Some feel frustrated that the SRO program isn’t comprehensive but perhaps unfairly selective, rotating 36 uniformed cops through 75 schools across the city. Other SRO programs, such as in Peel and Ottawa, cover all schools.

That has led to the perception that only at-risk Black kids are targeted at schools like C.W. Jefferys. But at-risk — and rich — kids of all colours are just as likely to be watched over by cops at the posh Etobicoke School of the Arts, Riverdale Collegiate or Northern Secondary School.

Would an even larger program that puts cops in every single school appease everyone? It hardly seems like the solution sought by protesters, who sometimes sound as if they don’t want to see any cops anywhere at any time — whether on a Pride parade ground or a Toronto school ground.

Protesters have every right to their anti-police perspective. Especially in the wake of a long battle against carding that disproportionately affected people of colour.

Minority voices, whether held by minority groups or believed by bastions of white privilege, are part of our democratic discourse. But they cannot be the last word in a democratic process.

Source: How police became the enemy in Toronto schools: Cohn | Toronto Star

Human rights chief praises police oversight report’s focus on race and diversity

It all starts with data:

The provincial government’s commitment Thursday to require police watchdogs to collect race-based statistics is evidence Ontario is in “a very unique moment” when it comes to recognizing the need for such data, says Ontario’s chief human rights commissioner.

One day after the release of Ontario Justice Michael Tulloch’s broad-ranging report on police oversight in Ontario, Renu Mandhane said the judge’s work provides a detailed road map to rebuild trust between community and police oversight agencies at a time of “historic levels of distrust.”

Shortly after the release of Tulloch’s 129 recommendations — many aimed at increasing transparency within the police watchdogs — Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi committed to act on the key recommendation that civilian oversight bodies, including the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), begin collecting demographic data such as statistics on race, ethnicity and indigenous status.

Currently, none of Ontario’s civilian watchdogs — the SIU, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) and the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) — collect statistics on race or any demographic data on religion, age, mental health status, disability, or indigenous status of complainants and alleged victims.

That move shows “the conversation has shifted in terms of the collection of data,” Mandhane said in an interview Friday, but stressed the importance of ensuring the data is both collected and then publicly reported; Tulloch recommended an advisory board be established to develop “best practices on the collection, management, and analysis of relevant demographic data.”

“There needs to be real thought about who is going to receive the data and making sure they have the resources to effectively analyze the data,” Mandhane said.

Tulloch’s race-based statistics recommendation was one of several praised by rights groups and advocates, who appreciated the emphasis placed on diversity, cultural training and the focus on indigenous communities. The report states Ontario’s oversight bodies must be “both socially and culturally competent.”

During consultations with First Nations communities in particular, Tulloch said there was consensus that the oversight bodies “lack cultural sensitivity and often are disrespectful of Indigenous peoples.” During consultations, he was told of cases where an SIU investigator arrived in a First Nations community following an incident, spoke briefly with someone from the community, and had no further contact.

“Equally troubling, some First Nations communities in the north described having to wait days for SIU investigators to arrive on scene. In some cases, matters were closed without talking to members of the community and the leadership,” the report states.

To begin to remedy fraught relationships, Tulloch recommended mandatory social and cultural competency training for watchdog staff — developed and delivered in partnership with the communities they serve.

The report also says Ontario’s police watchdogs should reflect their diverse communities, meaning the oversight bodies must take initiatives to hire people from communities currently under-represented within the organizations.

“This includes all individuals at the oversight bodies: the directors, the investigators, the adjudicators, and the staff dedicated towards outreach, communications, administration, affected persons services, and so forth,” the report states.

The move toward greater diversity is long overdue, said Julian Falconer, a Toronto lawyer who has represented many families of people killed by police and who also practices in Thunder Bay.

In his submission to Tulloch during the review process, he says he was “quite blunt” about the lack of diversity when it comes to the director of the SIU.

Source: Human rights chief praises police oversight report’s focus on race and diversity | Toronto Star

How will we know when police have earned their way back to Toronto Pride?: Robyn Urback

Valid questions by Robyn Urback:

If the issue is more so about visibility, as some BLM supporters say, noting that police are still welcome to participate in Pride as long as they’re not wearing their uniforms, then perhaps Pride should consider also asking clergymen not to wear their collars during marches and parades.

The religious leaders who choose to join in on Pride activities — such as those from the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto — are obviously open, welcoming and inclusive, though some Pride-goers might find the symbols triggering because of the many religious groups and institutions that are not so open, welcoming and inclusive.

Toronto Pride Parade Mark Saunders

Police Chief Mark Saunders greets the crowd during Toronto’s Pride parade in 2015. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

But if we accept that the police are being singled out because of the severity of their brutality against Canada’s black and LGBT communities — both past and present — which is a defensible position, then perhaps it would be prudent for BLM to define some sort of tangible criteria delineating how, and when, and by what measure police conduct would be acceptable enough for them to participate in the marches again.

Revoking the ban

At what point will police be distant enough from their past, like the Canadian Forces, innocuous enough in their present, like the education system, and adequately inoffensive in their image, like religious leaders, to once again be able to show their solidarity?

If we accept the notion that individuals have to carry misdeeds of the people before them — and the reputations of the worst among them — then it makes sense to prohibit any uniformed officer from participating in Pride activities.

But if we recognize that people are more than simply facets of the groups to which they belong, we’d know better than to paint them all with the same brush.

Source: How will we know when police have earned their way back to Toronto Pride?: Robyn Urback – CBC News | Opinion

US: Low-Income PoCs Still Don’t Trust The Police, But Would Work With Them : NPR

Interesting study with identifying the problem (lack of trust) and opportunity (willing to work together):

While trying to catch a bus to school, Emilio Mayfield, 16, jaywalked. When he didn’t comply with a police officer’s command to get out of the bus lane, a scuffle ensued. Mayfield was struck in the face with a baton and arrested by nine Stockton, Cal. police officers. The arrest was captured on video by a bystander and the video went viral.

A police officer responding to a domestic violence call shot Jamar Clark, 24, in the head as he lay on the ground. He died the next day, sparking weeks of protests. A Minneapolis Police Department internal investigation later cleared the two officers involved in the shooting of any wrongdoing.

Devon Davis crashed his car and was running away from cops when they caught up to him. A witness says officers severely beat Davis in the legs before carrying him away. Police assert that Davis injured his legs in the car crash. Davis sued the city of Pittsburgh and six police officers.

These incidents — which all took place in 2015 — may have been on the minds of residents in these cities when they were asked to participate in a study of their views on the police.

The study, released Wednesday, reveals that while the majority of residents in high-crime, high-poverty areas have a negative view of the police, they also have great respect for the law and are willing to work with law enforcement to make communities safer.

The majority of residents surveyed hold a very negative impression of the police. Less than a third believe that the police respect people’s rights, “treat people with dignity and respect,” and “make fair and impartial decisions in the cases they deal with.” More than half of residents say that “police officers will treat you differently because of your race/ethnicity” and that officers act “based on personal prejudices and biases.” Survey respondents identified as black (66 percent), white (12 percent), and Latino or Hispanic (11 percent). The majority are female (59 percent). Most respondents live in extreme poverty, reporting a total annual income of less than $20,000.

Residents also expressed a firm belief in the law and a willingness to partner with police to improve community safety. Seven in 10 respondents believe that the “law should be strictly obeyed” and that laws benefit the community. More than half agree with the statement “the laws in your community are consistent with your own intuitions about what is right and just.”

And while only 38 percent of respondents say that they feel safe around the police or find them trustworthy (30 percent), they also say they would work with police. More than half are willing to attend a community meeting with police and close to half say they would volunteer their time to help the police solve a crime or find a suspect.low-income_pocs_still_don_t_trust_the_police__but_would_work_with_them___code_switch___npr

The Urban Institute, a think tank based in Washington, D.C., conducted the study in partnership with local organizations in six cities: Birmingham, Alabama; Fort Worth, Texas; Gary, Indiana; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Stockton, California. The focus on households located in the highest crime, lowest income areas — with predominantly residents of color — is a marked departure from most surveys about perception of law enforcement which sample the general population.

Using data from the U.S. Census and crime data provided by police departments in the six cities, researchers identified the areas with the highest concentrations of crime and poverty in each city. Focusing their research in this way allowed them to survey the “people who live in the areas where trust may be weakest, but who may benefit the most from increases in public safety.”

“General population surveys often mask differences between groups,” the authors said. “Those who are white and more affluent are the most likely to respond to general population surveys and tend to have relatively favorable views of the police.” Researchers conducted surveys in person, instead of using the more common methods of mail or phone because residents who are low income, have less education, or are racial or linguistic minorities tend to be underrepresented in phone and mail surveys.