Lawyers to cops: Stop carding!

By Gerald V. Paul


The African Legal Clinic, ACLC, and a coalition of community activists and lawyers are challenging the controversial police tactic used disproportionately on blacks, known as carding, in court.

They will launch a Charter challenge as well as a class action lawsuit to try to stop the controversial Toronto police practice.

However, the Toronto Police Service maintains that carding is legal.

Carding is a practice through which police stop people on the basis of suspicious behavior, and keep records. There have been accusations that “carding” is discriminatory, as a disproportionately amount of black and brown people are carded.

Further, the information in the “card” is used at later times to say a suspect is “known to police.”

Meanwhile, the police board has asked the city’s Auditor General to conduct an independent review of the data kept by police, who record race along with other personal information when they stop and document an individual. But that review, as well as a legal opinion from the city, are months away.

Board Chair Alok Mukherjee says the Board “must be satisfied that any collection of data and the manner and circumstances in which this is done are not only operationally justified and legitimate but are also respectful of individual rights and free from any discriminatory impact.”

But there is a limit to the Boards options.

The centre for Constitutional Rights, whose lawyers argued the case in court, describe the stops as “unreasonable, suspicionless and racially discriminatory.” Officers list “furtive movement” as the justification for stopping someone more half the time.

The city’s director of litigation, Albert Cohen was also asked by the board to weigh in, but he can’t proceed until police finishes an internal audit of the practice that he said he needs to inform his legal opinion.