By Gerald V. Paul
It seems that you cannot have a Black Canadian Forum and not talk or, in this case, get angry, over race and carding.
And so it went, back and forth, as members of the Caribbean and Black community took the opportunity to hear directly from mayoralty candidates on issues at the Novotel Hotel.
From Olivia Chow came the position of no tolerance to racial profiling and carding, while John Tory advocated respect and tolerance for some degree of “fair and just” profiling and carding as the police are doing their job.
Chow said, “Carding, as a practice should be abolished. I take issue with carding and racial profiling. I will sit on the Police Board and stop carding.” Chow previously sat on the Police Services Board.
She told the forum on Friday that “It’s humiliating when you get stopped over and over again. I have a track record when it comes to police accountability.”
“I will not abolish it,” Tory said. He noted there is already monitoring done at airports and other locations requiring security surveillance. “Some kind of recording should be allowed.”
As of press time yesterday, Chow was playing catch-up with Tory who is leading by about 20 points in a recent poll.
Mayor Rob Ford, who is running for re-election, told the forum that police must only card when they have just cause. “We have to have justification. We need to treat everyone the same.”
Dewitt Lee, a Black candidate for mayor, said the community views carding negatively as a source of “stress and strain” but if citizens find themselves subject to the tactic, they should not resist.
Commenting on the issue of racial profiling, lawyer, author and community advocate Munyonzwe Hamalengwa contacted The Camera to say the criminal justice system is negatively affected by the practice. He said people are less likely to co-operate with people they mistrust and may develop doubts regarding all aspects of the criminal justice system.
Individuals with these perceptions may respond inappropriately to law enforcement officers out of mistrust or may retaliate for past-perceived injustices, Hamalengwa added. Situations may therefore escalate unnecessarily putting both the citizen and officer at risk of injury.