By Ellie Adekur-Carlson

When Mark Saunders and Peter Sloly were shortlisted as candidates for Chief Bill Blair's job, it struck up a city-wide dialogue around diversity and the role of a Black police chief in tackling issues of anti-Black racism within the Toronto Police Service. Communities were proud to watch, for the first time, as men of colour rose through the ranks of the TPS, and when Mark Saunders was sworn-in, excited to begin unpacking issues of racial profiling and police violence in our city.

mark saunders kevin van paasen (the globe and mail)

Mark Saunders is a Black face in a traditionally white space, but the celebration is cut short when his approach to policing upholds many of the same campaigns that disproportionately target and oppress communities of colour. Saunders has been part (and too often in charge) of divisions within the police service that, historically and currently, target and harass young men and women of colour, and instil in us a sense of fear when we think about policing.

What we are now learning is that putting a Black man in charge is not enough to meaningfully combat anti-Black racism. Saunders' Blackness is a symbolic victory for diversity, but it doesn't translate into tangible gains for communities of colour across the city; his swearing-in was not followed by meaningful policy change, nor even an acknowledgement of anti-Black racism in carding policies that, to date, have logged more encounters with young Black men than the actual population of young Black men in Toronto. For this reason, the conversation isn't and cannot be about diversity within the TPS. We need a larger discussion around racism, classism and the adversarial relationship between the TPS and working-class communities in Toronto.

Carding—a practice that parallels the stop-and-frisk mandate of the NYPD—is a pre-emptive policing strategy that looks to tackle crime before it occurs in communities through indiscriminate, unwarranted contact with residents. The practice is loaded with issues of race- and class-based profiling. We now know that certain kinds of people in the city of Toronto are systematically stopped under these policies. Young men and women of colour are stopped and interrogated, with intimate details about our lives documented and logged in an expansive database. These encounters are deceptive, intimidating, and often degrading—creating a feeling that you can't say "no", because the police have guns and are largely unaccountable to anyone for the injuries they inflict.

When you're carded, officers rarely inform you of your right to leave and demand intimate details about you, your intentions, and your background. When you hesitate, or refuse to give this information, officers bend the law to obtain it, threatening charges of trespassing, loitering, or officer baiting. Too often they resort to physical violence to get it, understanding that the complaint process is an inaccessible one, and that even when civilians do file complaints related to officer misconduct, rarely is the officer disciplined for this kind of violence.*

Read more: http://basicsnews.ca/carding-in-blackface-on-mark-saunders-and-diversity-in-the-tps/

When Mark Saunders and Peter Sloly were shortlisted as candidates for Chief Bill Blair’s job, it struck up a city-wide dialogue around diversity and the role of a Black police chief in tackling issues of anti-Black racism within the Toronto Police Service. Communities were proud to watch, for the first time, as men of colour rose through the ranks of the TPS, and when Mark Saunders was sworn-in, excited to begin unpacking issues of racial profiling and police violence in our city.

Mark Saunders is a Black face in a traditionally white space, but the celebration is cut short when his approach to policing upholds many of the same campaigns that disproportionately target and oppress communities of colour. Saunders has been part (and too often in charge) of divisions within the police service that, historically and currently, target and harass young men and women of colour, and instil in us a sense of fear when we think about policing.

What we are now learning is that putting a Black man in charge is not enough to meaningfully combat anti-Black racism.  Saunders’ Blackness is a symbolic victory for diversity, but it doesn’t translate into tangible gains for communities of colour across the city; his swearing-in was not followed by meaningful policy change, nor even an acknowledgement of anti-Black racism in carding policies that, to date, have logged more encounters with young Black men than the actual population of young Black men in Toronto.  For this reason, the conversation isn’t and cannot be about diversity within the TPS. We need a larger discussion around racism, classism and the adversarial relationship between the TPS and working-class communities in Toronto.

Carding—a practice that parallels the stop-and-frisk mandate of the NYPD—is a pre-emptive policing strategy that looks to tackle crime before it occurs in communities through indiscriminate, unwarranted contact with residents. The practice is loaded with issues of race- and class-based profiling. We now know that certain kinds of people in the city of Toronto are systematically stopped under these policies. Young men and women of colour are stopped and interrogated, with intimate details about our lives documented and logged in an expansive database. These encounters are deceptive, intimidating, and often degrading—creating a feeling that you can’t say “no”, because the police have guns and are largely unaccountable to anyone for the injuries they inflict.

When you’re carded, officers rarely inform you of your right to leave and demand intimate details about you, your intentions, and your background. When you hesitate, or refuse to give this information, officers bend the law to obtain it, threatening charges of trespassing, loitering, or officer baiting. Too often they resort to physical violence to get it, understanding that the complaint process is an inaccessible one, and that even when civilians do file complaints related to officer misconduct, rarely is the officer disciplined for this kind of violence.*

- See more at: http://basicsnews.ca/carding-in-blackface-on-mark-saunders-and-diversity-in-the-tps/#sthash.S7wmNJl5.dpuf