Carding in Blackface: On Mark Saunders and “Diversity” in the TPS

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

Police carding says I don’t belong, I’m just tolerated

By XINAVANE MAWU KUSH

The issue is not whether carding can be made to look friendlier. The issue is not whether carding can be redone so it seems nicer.

The issue is that carding – in and of itself – is wrong. Carding is similar to the New York Police Department's infamous "stop and frisk" program.

http://static.theglobeandmail.ca/f28/globe-debate/letters/article24037187.ece/ALTERNATES/w620/DBC103-Saunders+Toronto+Pol.JPG

Carding says that I am not entitled to the same rights and freedoms as White Canadians. Carding says I'm not as 'real' a citizen as a White person. Carding says I don't belong, I'm just tolerated.

Carding is based on the White supremacist historical mantra that we Afrikan people are inherently criminal; inherently lacking in civilized values and principles; inherently untrustworthy; and that we need to be reminded that we are (considered) inferior to White people, and especially, that we must keep that demeaning status foremost in our (and their) minds.

The current era's racist policing has been given the name carding, and because that name wasn't used in previous eras people think this is a new activity. It is not.

It had no name I was aware of when I was growing up (and BTW there was no gun violence at the time to use as an excuse for targeting our community) but police, nonetheless, maintained exactly the same behaviours as carding.

http://www.thestar.com/content/dam/thestar/news/gta/2013/08/16/police_carding_opponents_find_hope_in_new_york_ruling_against_stopandfrisk/carding_receipt.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterbox.jpg

They would come up on law-abiding, innocent Black people and demand all kinds of personal information, and talk to us in a tone as though they were an occupying army and we were the barely tolerated suspicious enemy.

http://sharenews.com/police-carding-says-i-dont-belong-im-just-tolerated/#sthash.6qB31gAP.dpuf

The news reports of carding’s death are grossly exaggerated

By Ajamu Nangwaya

On June 7, Toronto's Mayor John Tory called for the cancellation of carding, which is the cops' practice of stopping and questioning Torontonians and documenting and storing their personal information in non-criminal encounters. Tory made this announcement in spite of previously being a strong supporter of carding.

http://www.chfi.com/files/tory-carding.png

Many people were wildly jubilant at this proclamation and uncritically took his words at face value. Some people went so far as to claim it as a victory.

Rachel Décoste, a blogger with Huffington Post Canada, could not avoid noting "the congratulatory backslapping (that) spread across Hogtown (Toronto)" under the belief that carding had been dumped into the cesspool of history.

Paula Fletcher, the city councillor for Ward 30, was enthused by Tory's declaration. According to Fletcher: "This is what a leader does: looks at the situation, reassesses. And he's made a very big announcement for the city of Toronto today."

Akwatu Khenti had this to say, by way of Twitter, about Tory's change of heart on carding: "Thank you Mayor @JohnTory You have an entire community's support on the need to end #carding yesterday."

http://www.640toronto.com/files/2015/06/1958330_604865242915320_846886031_n.jpg

John Clarke of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty was skeptical of the quality of carding reform that Mayor Tory would bring to the fore: "Facing huge opposition to #police #carding #Toronto Mayor #JohnTory hopes pause for cosmetic changes will save him."

On June 18, Mayor announced that he had another "road to Damascus" moment and was converting back to his original embrace of carding. Tory introduced the carding policy of April 24, 2014 and it was unanimously supported by the members of the Toronto Police Services Board.

http://storage.torontosun.com/v1/dynamic_resize/sws_path/suns-prod-images/1297708123591_ORIGINAL.jpg?quality=80&size=650x

This development should not have been unexpected because statements in Tory's June 7 speech expressed his commitment to carding, notwithstanding his explicit call for an end to it.

http://sharenews.com/the-news-reports-of-cardings-death-are-grossly-exaggerated/#sthash.ZPVs2GnD.dpuf