By Gerald V. Paul
A, prominent Black lawyer told The Caribbean Camera on Tuesday that he experienced racial profiling when a security guard at the Law Society of Upper Canada’s headquarters denied him entry to the building last July.
Selwyn Pieters said he has filed a complaint against the Law Society of Upper Canada, to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, seeking $75,000 in damages. He claims the Law Society itself has an issue with race.
He said that he and a black student were visiting the headquarters of the Law Society in July when a security guard demanded to see his law society ID card while white people were buzzed in without scrutiny.
Pieters said when his ID Card turned out to be expired, the guard refused to allow himself and the Black student entry, despite protocol that calls for a database check that would have confirmed his lawyer status.
Asked if he knew that his ID card had expired, Pieters told The Caribbean Camera that he did not check .
“But that’s not the point,” he added, noting that white lawyers before and after the incident were buzzed in without scrutiny.
The British-born lawyer said as soon as he realized his ID had expired, he went and paid his $15 renewal fee.
Pieters is also asking the Human Rights Tribunal to order the Law Society of Upper Canada to implement training focused on anti-Black racism for security guards, lawyers and others.
A statement from the Law Society of Upper Canada noted that “when Mr. Pieters related his experience, our CEO, Robert Lapper, reached out immediately to assure him and his student, Mr. Williams, that the incident would be reviewed.”
According to the Law Society, the security guard was following standard procedure and that this was not a case of racial profiling.