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 The Ontario Human Rights Commission is so displeased with the action taken by John Tory-led police board that it has withdrawn from further discussion on the matter with the police.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.