Hamilton police have 'carded' 9,000 since 2010

By Molly Hayes, Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton police practise carding and they keep race-based information on file, a report from the service has revealed.

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The report on the practice — or "street checks" as the service prefers to call them — was requested at last month's police services board meeting, after a delegation from a local activist voiced concerns around racial profiling.

The report, presented Thursday, defines a street check as "police engagement with community members for investigative purposes."

A physical card is kept on each of these interactions, with varying amounts of personal data including name, date of birth, address, and race.

And there is no limit to how long those files stay in the police database, Deputy Chief Eric Girt said, because they never know when the information could be useful.

And according to police records, officers have done more than 9,000 of them since 2010. There were 2,432 in 2010, 2,893 in 2011, 1,365 in 2013 and 188 last year.

In his presentation to the police board Thursday, Girt attributed the steep decline in 2014 to a "chilling effect" felt by police services across North America when it comes to the controversial issue of carding.

In 2011 (the last year for which census data is available), 15.7 per cent of the city's population was a visible minority. In that same year, according to the report, 25 per cent of those street checked were of a visible minority.

Read more: http://www.thespec.com/news-story/5749150-hamilton-police-have-carded-9-000-since-2010/

Hamilton police carding policies target vulnerable minorities

By Riaz Sanyani-Mulji

Recently the Hamilton Police Service admitted that they do indeed track race-based statistics. In doing so, they've given us proof that racialized citizens, especially black people and aboriginals in this city, are disproportionately carded.

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Finally, the veil has been lifted on the Hamilton Police Service's racist policing. For years, they told those of us who submitted Freedom of Information requests and who met with senior management that they don't record race-based statistics. "We don't racially profile," were their words. They were defensive when we used the "r-word", and told us that they were "colour-blind."

For too long, both the Hamilton Police Service and the Hamilton Police Services Board ignored the stories we shared, of racialized young people in our community being stopped and searched without cause, of being ticketed for driving or biking while black, or their stories of these interactions escalating into assault by ACTION officers. The ACTION team is a provincially-funded unit arguably tasked with carding, racially profiling and harassing historically marginalized communities. While these are anecdotes of police brutality, not proven in a court of law, it is evident that carding poses the risk for extrajudicial measures such as physical assaults, trumped up or unwarranted charges and ongoing harassment by the police. See, for example, Justice Frederick Myers' finding of facts in the May 2015 case of Sudanese refugee Mutaz Elmardy against Toronto police, where a carding interaction led to him being punched twice in the face by a police officer. Elmardy was subsequently awarded $27,000 by the court.

While Justice Myers did not rule on this issue, it is clear that carding, or street checks, violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Human Rights Code. Policing powers in Canada do not provide for the ability to stop people without cause and coerce them to produce identification. Section 9 of the Charter protects against exactly that — arbitrary detention. And given the litigation commenced by the Law Union of Ontario, a court will no doubt make a ruling confirming this in due time.

Read more at: http://www.thespec.com/opinion-story/5790195-hamilton-police-carding-policies-target-vulnerable-minorities/

Does Less Carding Equal More Gun Violence?

By Christopher J. Williams

You can laugh or cry in response to the conveniently alarmist rhetoric issued by police officials that goes something like this: "All of this unwarranted criticism of carding – and, by extension, the implication that our officers are racist – has produced a dangerous situation in which gun violence in Toronto has spiked considerably."

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It's basically an updated (and somewhat less rabid) version of the classic Old South claim that halting racist lynching would lead to rampant black-on-white rape. In any era, and in any locale, you can never take your heel off the black neck, you see....

Of course, one look at the available data shows that, for example, in 2012 when carding was rampant there were 22 shooting deaths (as of August 10) whereas in 2015 – when carding numbers are comparatively very low – there have been 15 shooting deaths to this point of the year. Here are the year to date numbers that allow for year-by-year comparisons:

Read more at: https://christopherejwilliams.wordpress.com/2015/08/11/does-less-carding-equal-more-gun-violence/