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  • “Sheriff John Brown always hated me”: Organizing against racialized police violence

    By Ajamu Nangwaya

    In the eyes of the Afrikan community, Marley’s Sheriff John Brown is symbolic of all police, or of Babylon in the language of the Rastafarians, for whom Marley is a chief icon. In the world view of the Rastafarians, and Afrikans in general, Babylon and the police are interchangeable terms for the most visible, oppressive, and racist presence of the criminal justice system.

    In 2011, Afrikans comprised 2.5 per cent of Canada’s population but made up 9 per cent of its federal prisoners. Between 2001 and 2011, the number of Afrikans in Canadian prisons grew by 40 per cent, according to a report by the Office of the Correctional Investigator. The police are on the front line of the prison-industrial complex, and their racial profiling and overpolicing activities generate the bodies for the court and prison systems. “Every time I plant a seed” for liberation and dignity, the police “said kill it before it grow.”

    The police are at hand to keep Afrikans in their place and to prevent or discourage overt resistance to their exploited condition. In 1989, the Toronto police carried out a surveillance program against 13 organizations and 18 individuals who participated in the campaign for police accountability measures. In 1994, a report exposed the RCMP’s secret monitoring of black power organizations, documenting the racist language and stereotypes used by the police in their descriptions of these groups and their non-violent activists.

    Read more:

  • Black Police Chief in Toronto: Friend or Foe?

    The Jane Finch Action Against Poverty (JFAAP) and the Network for the Elimination of Police Violence

    invite you to a panel discussion on the relevance of an Afrikan Canadian police chief to the experience

    of police violence in racialized working-class communities and the actions that we need to embrace to

    resist the repressive action of the Toronto Police Service.

    Let's have a frank talk about police violence, racism and community resistance in Toronto:

    Would a Black police chief reduce police violence in our communities?

    What actions should we take to protect ourselves from police violence?

    Who would benefit from a Black police chief in Toronto?

    Join the Facebook event page:

    For more information, please contact NEPV: eliminatepoliceviolence@gm>

  • Community was blinded by Tory’s charm


     The unchecked lovefest displayed toward John Tory by the African Canadian petty bourgeoisie in Toronto’s 2014 mayoral election prevented this class from looking out for the best interests of the community.

    The African Canadian newspapers, public figures, the notables and media workers failed to provide the Afrikan working-class with a critical assessment and interrogation of John Tory’s policies and conservative ideological commitments. The newspapers were too eager to serve as cheerleaders as opposed to affirming the dictum that “The job of the newspaper (or the media) is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

    The Afrikan petty bourgeoisie characters who supported Tory could only point to the charitable contributions that he made to community initiatives, his charming and personable character traits and him never experiencing “a scheduling problem”, unlike other White political figures who were invited to Afrikan Canadian public events. Some members of this group also focused on their personal friendship with Tory, which glossed over his conservative policies.

    It is quite instructive that not even one endorser has pointed to public policies and social and income security programs that have been championed by Tory to advance the material interests of the Afrikan Canadian working-class, or even the interests of the members of these bourgeoisie elements who contend with White supremacy and/or patriarchy in society’s institutions.

    The exclusive fixation on Tory’s personality, the financial crumbs that he throws at charitable causes, and his willingness to fraternize with Afrikans might be an unwitting admission that his policies are irrelevant or hostile to the interests of this racialized community.

    Read more:

  • Honest belief not enough to justify arrest

    by Mike Novakowski

    The court accepted that the officer honestly believed Brown possessed drugs and had attempted a hand-to-hand transaction. Further, it accepted that the officer's prior experience with drug dealing was properly taken into account in assessing grounds. However, the officer's subjective belief was still not objectively reasonable:

    In our view however, there must be something in the conduct observed by the officer, placed in the context of the rest of the circumstances, that lends some objective justification or verification to the officer's belief. Section 495 of the Criminal Code and, more importantly, s. 9 of the Charter, demand that the belief be "reasonable," meaning that a reasonable person standing in the shoes of the police officer be able to see the grounds for the arrest. Without this objective component, the scope of the police power to arrest would be defined entirely by the police officer's perception of the relevant circumstances.

    The individual's constitutional right to be left alone by the state cannot depend exclusively on the officer's subjective perception of events regardless of how accurate that perception might be. The issue is not the correctness of the officer's belief, but the need to impose discernable objectively measurable limits on police powers.

    The (accused's) interaction with the person facing him on the city sidewalk does not, in our view, provide any objective basis upon which to believe that the two persons were engaged in a drug transaction. Nor does the fact that the two persons then walked away from each other make that interaction any more suspicious. (The officer's) evidence that the second person may have walked away from the (accused) because he or she caught sight of the police cruiser is speculation

    (paras. 14-15).

    The court noted other factors in concluding the totality of the circumstances did not provide an objectively reasonable basis for the arresting officer's belief:

    • The arresting officer's partner, who was in a better position as passenger to see Brown's conduct, did not notice anything, suspicious or not. Even if he had witnessed the movements described, the partner testified he would not have arrested Brown based on them. Instead, he would have spoken to Brown or briefly detained him for investigative purposes.

    • The arresting officer did not explain why the way Brown held his right hand was of some particular significance in the drug world. Without such an explanation, these actions "(did) not elevate the circumstances to reasonable and probable grounds to arrest."

    • The evidence supporting the officer's contention that this took place in a high crime area was thin. The officers were assigned to patrol this area as part of an anti-violence intervention strategy. Criminal activity, including drug activity, had apparently increased, however "the area targeted by the police activity was broad and the concerns were not particularized to drug activity or the specific location where these events occurred," the court noted. "There was no evidence that the corner where the arrest occurred was considered to be a high drug activity area."

    Although the arresting officer honestly believed he had reasonable and probable grounds to arrest Brown, that belief wasn't objectively reasonable. The arrest was therefore unlawful and breached Brown's s.9 Charter right not to be arbitrarily detained.

    Read more at:

  • We support Sloly for chief because he is the best candidate

    By ARNOLD A. AUGUSTE, Publisher/Senior Editor

    In an article published in both Share and Pride Newsmagazine last week, Dr. Ajamu Nangwaya, explained why he didn’t believe the naming of a Black chief of the Toronto Police Service would solve problems that exist between the community and the police.

    Although he used much stronger language.

    “As a member of the African-Canadian community, I am quite puzzled by the exuberant display of irrationality and misplaced expectations by some African-Canadians over the possibility of the appointment of either Deputy Chief Peter Sloly or Deputy Chief Mark Saunders as the next chief of the Toronto Police Service (TPS),” he wrote, adding that it was “the African-Canadian petty bourgeois elements who are loudly clamouring or serving as cheerleaders” for the respective candidates.

    “These social climbing characters are infatuated with celebrating the ‘first Black’ this and the ‘first Black’ that, as if they are the measurement of a substantive change in the economic, social and political condition of working-class African-Canadians.”

    For one thing, the need to celebrate “a first Black” chief is not the primary concern in this situation for most of us who are worried about who the next chief is going to be. Our primary concern is to have the board name someone who can take the force in a different direction where community policing will really mean something and community engagement will mean just that, and not the criminalizing of our youth.

    Secondly, the fact that we are still, in 2015, looking forward to celebrating “firsts” speaks more of this society than it does of us. And, in any case, why shouldn’t we be happy to celebrate the naming of the first Black chief of Canada’s largest municipal police service?

    And, thirdly, “petty bourgeois”? Really?” Are we still doing this to each other?

    Dr. Nangwaya does stand on solid historical evidence, though, when he suggests that the naming of a Black person to important decision-making positions might not provide the “substantive change” we expect or need.

    Read more:

  • 'Street checks' common practice among GTA police services

    By Codi Wilson, CP24

    Toronto police continue to face heavy criticism for 'carding' people on the street but it appears a similar practice is widely used by other police services in the GTA , though they are quick to distance themselves from the unpopular term.!/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_620/image.jpg

    Peel Regional Police, Durham Regional Police, York Regional Police and the Ontario Provincial Police all say they practice a form of "street checks." Toronto police too prefer to use the term "community engagement" in lieu of 'carding.'

    In York region, authorities say they do have a policy on "police checks" but that the service "does not engage in the practice of carding."

    Spokesperson Const. Andy Pattenden explained the difference by defining carding as "the systemic questioning or collecting of information from citizens in specific target areas."

    "Our officers are expected to make use of a function in our records management system to gather information and intelligence by documenting interactions such as traffic stops where only warnings are issued, noise or youth complaints where no charge is laid or calls regarding suspicious people or vehicles," he told in an emailed statement.

    Pattenden said the service regularly analyzes the statistics they gather with regard to these police checks.

    "These statistics show they mirror the demographic of the communities we police in terms of race and ethnic origin," he added.

    Pattenden also said police work within the laws to collect this information.

    "The Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act permits the collection of personal information for law enforcement purposes, with or without the consent of knowledge of that person. However our officers are mindful of the fact they must not practice arbitrary detention or discriminate against a particular group and we have internal policies which address these areas."

    The Durham Regional Police Service also said officers conduct street checks and fill out contact cards but officials did not provide with the specifics of their policies.

    Read more at:

  • ‘Carding’ not problematic in Halton: police chief

    By David Lea

    While the police practice of carding may be controversial in Toronto, Halton Police Chief Stephen Tanner says no one is complaining about it here.!/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_620/image.jpg

    At Thursday's Halton Regional Police Services Board meeting, Tanner was asked about 'carding'.

    The chief said "field contacting" has been in place in Halton for decades and called it an important investigative tool. It involves obtaining the name and contact information of suspicious persons.

    "There are many, many times where a police officer encounters an individual in a suspicious type of situation. It's 3 a.m., they are behind an industrial mall. There have been break-ins there recently," said Tanner.

    "What is the person doing there? I think the public expects us to investigate that sort of person. There may not be grounds to arrest that person during that situation, but they are certainly a person of interest and by talking to them, police may get some intelligence information that later links someone to a crime."

    Tanner emphasized the police service has policies in place to prevent field contacting from becoming an infringement on civil liberties or racial profiling.

    Read more at:

  • “Am I free to go?”: The Refuseniks’ Campaign to Resist Police Street Harassment

    By Ajamu Nangwaya

    The cops’ repressive carding practice of stopping, questioning and documenting the personal information of Torontonians who are not suspected of committing a crime is an instrument that makes permanent suspects of Afrikan-Canadians, other racialized peoples and the general working-class. Carding is not substantively different in practice from New York City’s “stop and frisk” policy.

    After years of suffering under the carding regime, the Afrikan-Canadian community and other affected peoples should initiate a mass campaign aimed at refusing to share their personal information with the cops. When they are stopped in these non-criminal encounters, they should ask the police, “Am I free to go?” If they are not being detained or arrested, they should inform the cops that they will be leaving the scene.

    In spite of the people’s right to not share their personal information with the cops, many members of the public do not believe that they have the option of rejecting the request of these armed agents of the state. In fact, Afrikans and other peoples feel psychologically detained and are often fearful of exercising their rights.       

    In Toronto, the cops use the carding regime to amass information on the working-class, especially Afrikans and other racialized groups. The civilian policy-making and police oversight body the Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) has given the cops a virtual licence to carry out street harassment and racial profiling.

    The two main weekly Afrikan-Canadian newspapers Share and Pride have been featuring stories and opinion columns that are opposed to carding. The mass circulation daily the Toronto Star has been rolling out a steady stream of news and op-eds on carding.

    These stories are certainly helping to build mass opposition to carding and are likely cultivating a positive reception to an active carding resistance campaign.

    Read more:

  • “Free to go”: Detention after Grant and Suberu

    Prepared by Elizabeth France1 for the National Criminal Justice Conference, April 2012

    In R. v. Grant2 and R. v. Suberu3 the Supreme Court of Canada expanded on the concept of detention and established a framework to assist courts in determining when detention arises.4 Since these decisions were released in 2009, much has been written about the revised legal framework.5 Given the existing academic commentary on the issue, this paper will only briefly touch on the current law governing detention. This paper will focus on recent case law and assess how courts have understood and applied Grant and Suberu in making findings of detention.

    Part I: The law on detention: Grant and Suberu

    (a) Defining detention

    Co-writing the majority judgment, Chief Justice McLachlin and Justice Charron grounded their analysis of detention in the concept of "choice": they emphasized that the "general principle of choice" underlies the determination of whether or not detention has arisen.6
    Accordingly, "[w]here this choice [whether or not to walk away from the police] has been removed – whether by physical or psychological compulsion – the individual is detained."7

    The removal of the "choice to do otherwise" but comply with a police command is what makes the right to counsel under s. 10(b) of the Charter so indispensable.8
    This logic, in addition to concerns about compelled self-incrimination and liberty, is likely what drove the majority to conclude that an individual's s. 10(b) right to counsel arises at the outset of any detention, investigative or otherwise.

    Read more at:

  • 11 Essential Elements of the Anti-Carding Campaign

    By Ajamu Nangwaya

     I recently wrote an essay calling on the people of Toronto to end carding by refusing to share their personal information with the cops. They should meet any question from the cops with "Am I free to go?"

    The following elements should be used in any neighbourhood-based, grassroots led and organized anti-carding campaign:

    Create Neighbourhood Based Organizations: Each racialized, working-class neighbourhood should establish a participatory democratic organization to plan, direct, manage and co-ordinate the campaign to refuse co-operating with the carding regime and to push back against police violence in general.

    Develop Cop Watch Programs: Each neighbourhood should create a Cop Watch program to patrol, monitor, record, film and resist the violent behaviour of the cops. From the days of the Black Panther Party's cop watch patrol to today's Cop Watch projects, the police do not want to be observed and documented by residents. The Network for the Elimination of Police Violence (NEPV) has produced a guide on the dos and don'ts of filming the cops.

    Use Smartphone App to Record the Cops: NEVP has created the Cop Watch Video Recorder app that records and uploads your interaction with the police. Encourage all members of your neighbourhood to download the Cop Watch app and be ready to use it to document you and your neighbours' dealings with the police. Generally, cops do not like to be filmed. It tends to moderate their use of force as revealed by a Canadian research project.

    Read more:

  • 15 Quick Facts You Need to Know About Police Carding In Toronto

    By Kayla Greaves

    'Carding' is a system where police can stop, question, document and store information from anyone they choose during non-criminal encounters anywhere in the city. more:

  • A Citizen’s Guide to Rights When Dealing With Police (in Canada)

    Know your rights

    When dealing with the police, it is important to know what your rights are. This document will provide you with information about what you must do, what you do not have to do, and what you may wish to do in situations involving the police.

    This pamphlet contains general information only. It is not a substitute for legal advice and is not intended to replace legal advice from a qualified lawyer. Persons seeking legal advice or guidance with a particular problem should consult with a qualified lawyer.

    What if I am stopped by the police?

    Police officers can stop you under three general circumstances:

    • If they suspect that you have committed a crime
    • If they see you committing a crime
    • If you are driving

    If the police do not arrest you or if they do not have grounds to detain you, they must let you be on your way. To find out if you are under arrest or detention, politely ask the officers, “Am I under arrest?” If they say yes, you can ask why. Alternatively, you may ask the officer “Am I free to go?”, and if the answer is no, ask “why not?” 

    Read more:

  • Acting against carding might outdo compromise: James

    By Royson James

    There are many steps Toronto residents, black and brown ones especially, can take to challenge and undermine this unfair practice, writes Royson James....

    One. Young black men, the obvious targets of police, should file Freedom of Information requests to see their carding file. File the requests by the thousand. That should tell them what information police have on them. Much of the info is sloppily gathered, hurriedly reported as part of expected performance quotas, and out-and-out incorrect. Swamp the cops with requests. Then, expose the info online.


    Two. Issue “Don’t Stop. Don’t Talk” cards. Similar ones already exist, such as the No ID card issued by the Centre for Police Accountability. Expand their use.

    Three. Encourage card holders to video record every exchange when they show police the cards.

    Four. Pursue all legal means to challenge the constitutionality of the practice. The ruling by a judge this week addresses a citizen’s right to walk down the street and not answer police request for information, while not under arrest or investigation. As the judge said, it does not address whether the practice is constitutional. That question — a long-term project — needs to be answered.

    Five. The Ontario Human Rights Commission is so displeased with the action taken by John Tory-led police board that it has withdrawn from further discussion on the matter with the police. Good. But not enough.

    The Commission should pursue sanctions against the board and the service. If Tory’s position is so “inherently flawed” and a “retreat from earlier more progressive positions” designed to prevent racial profiling, the human rights commission should commence an investigation.

    Six. Where is Toronto city council on this? Where is the council-approved resolution denouncing the current practice, slamming the reversal of reforms and demanding the board ensure all citizens are treated equitably?

    Seven. Snub the Perpetrators. Groups such as the Harry Jerome Awards, Planet Africa, African Canadian Achievement Awards, the Jamaican Canadian Association and others should suspend their relationships with Toronto police, the mayor’s office and the police services board until these reasonable concerns are addressed. Do not invite them to your churches, your events or to the places you gather.

    Read more:

  • Advising resistance to police’s carding efforts grows more tempting: James

    By Royson James

    Don’t stop. Don’t talk.

    Ask them to arrest you or leave you alone.

    That’s the advice I’ve contemplated giving to young black men who are the target of discriminatory police practice of carding.

    You are not a criminal. You have done nothing wrong — except Walking While Black. The approaching officer does not accuse you of a crime. The officer doesn’t inform you of an investigation or that you are a suspect?

    Don’t stop. Don’t talk.

    My sons talked me out of it.

    “You’ll get these kids shot,” my law-graduate son argued, already cynical.

  • Amused and Insulted: Personal Reflections of a Contact Card Target

    By Chris Williams

    I’m not sure whether I should be amused or insulted by the proposition, put forth by various police officials over the last half decade, that carding plays an indispensable role in maintaining public safety.

    Perhaps I should be amused because the Toronto Police Service has a distinguished record of being less than honest with the public, as evidenced by the fact that they won the 10th annual “Code of Silence” award given by the Canadian Association of Journalists “to the most secretive government agency in Canada.”

    Perhaps I should be amused because in affluent, predominantly white parts of Toronto – such as Bloor and South Kingsway – black people are more than 10 times as likely to be carded as their white counterparts and the police justify this disparity with reference to “crime hot spots” in such areas, though, of course, they never specify the crimes or the particular “hot spots.”
    Perhaps I should be amused because the police are fully aware that “stranger danger” is not the norm, meaning violent crimes such as murder, attempted murder, assault, sexual assault, kidnapping, forcible confinement and other violent crimes overwhelming take place between family members, friends and acquaintances, in which case you don’t need a contact card to identify the perpetrator; that’s especially the case for violent crimes committed against women.Read more:

  • Approached By The Police...Know Your Rights

    By Paul Copeland, Law Union of Ontario


    Read the document:

  • Apps help protesters share video of police encounters

    ByMichael Casey

    With confrontations between citizens and police on the rise, new technology is allowing users on the front lines to upload clashes instantaneously to the Internet.

    Following the events of alleged police brutality in Ferguson, New York and now Baltimore, protests have risen in cities across the country, and many protesters come ready to roll the cameras. A handful of new smartphone apps help ensure that users will be able to get their video evidence out to the public before it can be destroyed by police and leverage the power of social media to bring attention to the protest movement.

    "You are seeing more instances of cops perhaps trying to stop someone from recording an incident that is going on so there has been a movement to have apps that make it easier for you to not just record something on your phone but get it up on YouTube immediately without you having to fiddle around and save it," CNET's Bridget Carey told CBS News.

    Among the most popular is Cop Watch, a free app created by the Network for the Elimination of Police Violence in Toronto. The app allows users to begin recording as soon as it is launched, and to upload video to YouTube automatically. It's available on App Store for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.

    Read more:

  • As U.S. tourists visit Toronto, carding remains an issue

    By Tom Godfrey

    In the last few days I have seen U.S. vehicles filled with tourists from New York City, Florida, Ohio, Georgia and even Texas cruising around our city.

    It seems like we are teeming with visitors here for the Pan Am Games and now the Toronto Caribbean carnival parade that takes place next week.

    The visitors remind me of what a beautiful city we live in. Visitors love it here and most do return because we are a friendly bunch and the city is safe and clean.

    But as we know there are simmering concerns in the community, like the uncalled for street checks of young men by Toronto police, that when corrected will make our quality of life even better.

    Partiers driving or flying to Toronto for the August 1 parade are here to visit family or friends, eat some good food and jump up behind the bands near the water. They feel free and for the most part, Toronto cops stand back and keep things safe for all.

    See more at:

  • BAD-C Blasts Police Board On Its “Community Engagement Policy”

    By Black Action Defense Committee

    Having got a chance to review what is being proposed as the Community Engagement Policy of the Toronto Police Services Board and the Joint Statements of the Board and Police Chief William Blair.

    I am absolutely appalled and horrified by some aspects of the content of these guidelines and by the events that have led to this revised, watered down version of the Policy, as well as some critical features of the current policy which have been omitted from this Draft Policy.

    Essentially, The Board has taken upon itself to make constitutional law (a role that devolves to the Parliament of Canada under the Constitution), by giving the police the authority to stop and interrogate any person, without having reasonable and probable grounds for assuming that the individual has committed an offence, or are likely to commit an offence.

    This is in definite violation of the Rights protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    This Policy therefore, constitutes an attempt to amend the Charter of Rights And Freedoms by the Police Services Board and the Chief of police, with the aid of an old retired Judge whose rulings should be researched.

    It is incongruent with the charter, the Human Rights Code and the Police Services Act, all of which the policy purports to uphold.

    Most of the language in the policy is from the regular police vernacular, including the new proposed name for the Policy, “Police Engagement” All of police activities are engagements, however, sometimes the engaged persons end up badly injured, and/or many of them end up dead.

    Read more:

  • Black August 2015: Organizing the Community for Justice and Freedom

    Invite your Facebook friends to the event:

    FILM SCREENING: "Crisis of Distrust: Police and Community in Toronto"

    GROUP DISCUSSION & PLANNING: discuss the film and actions needed to collectively organize and fight for justice.