By: Olivia Morris
Racial profiling and discrimination by Toronto Police Services (TPS) against the Black community has initiated a public interest inquiry by Ontario’s Human Rights Commission into the force’s activities and practices.
The inquiry will explore data relating to the practices of the TPS from Jan. 1 2010, to June 30, 2017 to examine the use of force, stopping, questioning, arrests and charges against Black civilians.
Statistical data of racial profiling by Toronto Police dating back to 2008 is a contributing factor towards initiating the inquiry. A Toronto Star analysis of police data from 2008 to mid-2011 showed that the number of Black males stopped is greater in each of the city’s 72 patrol zones than the actual number of people of colour living in those areas.
Social justice lawyer and advocate for Toronto’s Black community Anthony Morgan said the Ontario Human Rights Commission is showing “outrageous leadership” towards standardizing the collection and public reporting of police data that remains a chronic problem within Canada.
“My understanding is that the inquiry will look into issues of stops and use of lethal force, so that will create an opportunity for us to see what the data actually looks like, as opposed to having the arguments back and forth about whose story is more credible,” said Morgan.
“With that data and statistics, we begin to move towards a place where we can legitimately say that systematic racism is embedded within the operations of the Special Investigations Unit and they don’t want to be subjected to that criticism,” he said.
The hesitation to publicize the report has been heavily criticized by activists in the Black community.
“I suspect that it does have a lot to do with fear, plain and simple. Fear about the scrutiny and criticism that will follow once the statistics are publicized and they demonstrate that, for instance there is an overrepresentation of Indigenous, Black and racialized people in police use-of-lethal-force exchanges,” said Morgan.
Jodie Glean, Manager for the Centre for Human Rights, Equity & Diversity at Humber College thinks the racial profiling inquiry is a step in the right direction.
“I think it communicates that they’re taking these issues of systemic discrimination extremely seriously and I think that it’s definitely one part of the solution,” said Glean.
“Addressing any type of discrimination and harassment, particularly on a systemic level, requires a multi-prong approach and this is definitely one part of that approach.”
Glean believes any opportunity to hold persons or organizations accountable for the actions of their members is always welcomed when wanting to challenge and address any forms of systemic discrimination.
No date has been set for the release of the SIU police service data.
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