Fitting the description
Do all Black men in Canada, regardless of age, really look alike?
No, definitely not.
But in this day and age it is still seems hard to convince some police officers in the great Dominion of Canada that all Black men do not look alike.
Just last week we reported about an incident in which Justice Selwyn Romilly, a retired British Columbia Supreme Court judge was detained and handcuffed by police officers as he was taking a walk in Vancouver.
The retired judge who is Black, is 81 years old and the policemen were looking for a “suspect,” also Black, but about half the age of Justice Romilly.
“Fitting the description”?
The retired judge told the policemen who he was and the handcuffs were removed and he was allowed to continue on his way.
We are told that Vancouver police board will be reviewing this incident but we hope that the ” review” will not be the end of the matter.
At first, the news of the “look alike” retired judge was greeted with guffaws by many in Toronto’s Caribbean community. But the guffaws soon turned to anger as people in the communiity realized that what happened to the judge was happening to many in our own community.Too many have been ” fitting the description.”
Many Black men in Toronto still recall that as boys they were lectured by their mothers ” to come home straight from school” to avoid being picked up by the police as ” a suspect fitting the description.”
Like “driving while Black,” the term “fitting the description” is well known in our Caribbean community.
It is unfortunate that Justice Romilly was publicly embarassed by the police officers but the incident has brought to national attention a serious problem about which people from our community keep complaining.
Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart and the city police have apologized for the ” look alike” incident.
And in a statement, Mayor Stewart has noted that ” all our institutions are based on colonialism and are systematically racist,” including the city and the police department.
Yes, they are systematically racist and we need appropriate action to ensure that innocent Black citiizens in our country are not tainted as suspects ” fitting the description.”