“This report is definitely not news to the black community,”
December 11, 2018 5:55 PM   Subscribe

A Black person is 20 times more likely than a white person to be fatally shot by Toronto police [Vice News] “A Black person in Toronto was nearly 20 times more likely than a white person to be shot and killed by the Toronto Police Service between 2013 and 2017. The numbers were uncovered as part of an interim report by the Ontario Human Rights Commission released on Monday into racial profiling and discrimination of Black people, who comprise only 8.8 percent of Toronto’s population, by one of Canada’s largest police forces. The data confirms long-standing concerns of members of the Black communities in the city that they are over-represented in incidents of serious injury and deadly use of force involving Toronto police officers. It also raises broader concerns about transparency, accountability, and officer misconduct with the police service.”

• Joint Statement from the Toronto Police Services Board and the Toronto Police Service Regarding the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Interim Report into the Inquiry Concerning Racial Discrimination and Racial Profiling of Black Persons by the Toronto Police Service [Toronto Police]
“We recognize that there are those within Toronto’s Black communities who feel that, because of the colour of their skin, the police, including when it comes to use of force, have at times, treated them differently. We understand that this has created a sense of distrust that has lasted generations. We – the Board and the Service – know that only by acknowledging these lived experiences can we continue to work with our community partners to achieve meaningful changes. The Board and the Service acknowledge that no institution or organization, including the Toronto Police, is immune from overt and implicit bias. We have seen examples of other organizations, which are, by their nature, composed of people, dealing with the same challenges that we face. Nevertheless, we acknowledge that a unique obligation is required from those of us who are charged with upholding the law and protecting all of our city’s people. And, while we may be confronting these challenges with resolve today, we are committed to doing even better. Some may raise questions about the approach, methodology and statistical basis of this report, and it is important that all of these issues be scrutinized to ensure the fullest and fairest analysis and accounting.”
• Breaking down the ‘disturbing’ data in Toronto police racial profiling report [Toronto Star]
“In general, the data review found that members of the Black community are “grossly overrepresented” in SIU cases of Toronto police use of force. That included finding that between 2013 and 2017, a Black person was almost 20 times more likely than a white person to be fatally shot by police, representing seven of the 10 fatal police shootings. Accounting for approximately 8.8 per cent of Toronto’s population, Black people were involved in approximately 30 per cent of police use-of-force cases that resulted in serious injury or death and 60 per cent of deadly encounters with Toronto police. [...] More than two-thirds of civilians (67 per cent) who were involved in police use-of force investigations between 2013 and 2017 were unarmed at the time of their encounter with Toronto police, the report found. Generally, a higher proportion of white civilians had a weapon of some kind when police used force against them. A higher proportion of Black people had a gun or a knife during cases where a police officer used force, but a higher proportion of white people had a gun during police shootings.”
• Why anti-black racism persists in the Toronto Police Service [The Globe and Mail]
“Despite efforts by the Toronto Police Service and its board to institute new policies, procedures, training and accountability mechanisms, it would appear that police culture – that hardened, toxic thing – has triumphed. A key ingredient of that culture is lax accountability. All too often, punishment amounts to a slap on the wrist. When almost 100 police officers breached a mandatory policy by removing their name badges during the G20 summit in 2010, their penalty was a day off. When a court action found that a large number of police officers were turning off or not even switching on their in-car cameras – another requirement – the police chief instituted a mild penalty of taking away a day of vacation. In both instances, this penalty was given informally at the officers’ unit level and thus did not go on their disciplinary record – and it is hard not to conclude that this way of dealing with serious breaches amounts to no more than a wink and a nod, and reinforces a culture of impunity. An important first step in ensuring accountability is collecting, analyzing and publicly reporting data related to police stops, detentions and use of force to determine if they disproportionately affect members of the black communities. It is time for the police services board to direct Chief Mark Saunders to immediately begin collecting and reporting data on police interactions with black, Indigenous and other racialized communities.”
posted by Fizz (16 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
*I accidentally linked the wrong link. This is what the main link should have gone to.*
posted by Fizz at 5:57 PM on December 11, 2018

posted by cortex (staff) at 6:03 PM on December 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

So, Matt Galloway, who is black, interviewed Chief Mark Saunders (who is also black) on Metro Morning today.

Saunders completely sidestepped the direct question about the findings (full interview here) by saying:

"Working in homicide over so many years, I stepped over so many young black boys, Matt."
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:12 PM on December 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

I live in Toronto. I believe the Globe, that this has a LOT to do with lax discipline in response to gross abuses of power, like removing badges. The TOS needs to punish cops who break the rules, they should be held to the highest possible standard and currently they are NOT
posted by dazedandconfused at 6:17 PM on December 11, 2018 [11 favorites]

I support unions but the police “union” has been too goddamn powerful forever.
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:28 PM on December 11, 2018 [5 favorites]

Just to add: the Globe piece linked in the FPP is written by Alok Mukherjee, who is a former chair of the Toronto Police Service Board, which is the ostensible civilian oversight body for the Toronto Police Service. He knows what he's talking about since he was given the Sisyphean task of "civilian oversight" of TPS. Everyone knows the real power lies with the Toronto Police Association its sometimes-convicted president.

But it's history repeating. Susan Eng went through even worse as the chair of the board, including illegal wiretapping, but it's all a pattern.

Alok Mukherjee's book Excessive Force is worth a read for insight into how toothless civilian oversight of policing really is in this city.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:32 PM on December 11, 2018 [11 favorites]

Sound of da Police remains...
posted by juiceCake at 6:43 PM on December 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

Or, what could have been, and what now is:

A lifetime ago in 2013, the Toronto Police Service published a landmark report dubbed PACER, or the Police and Community Engagement Review. The document offered a remarkably progressive approach to policing, spending a bulk of its contents outlining a path to better community relationships through "bias-free" policing and ongoing neighbourhood consultation. The third page of the report is a list of contributing authors, and just below the name of former deputy chief Peter Sloly hangs that of Mark Saunders (who was, at the time of PACER's publication, also a deputy chief). In the three years since Chief Saunders was chosen over Peter Sloly to lead the Toronto Police Service, his tenure as chief can be described in much the same way as the report to which he signed his name, yet failed to follow.

Precious opportunities squandered.


When 20-year-old Dafonte Miller of Whitby, Ont., was allegedly chased down and beaten with a metal pipe by off-duty Toronto Constable Michael Theriault and his brother Christian Theriault (who have been charged with assault and other offences), Chief Saunders was questioned why the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) was not immediately notified. His response was to deny any cover-up, adding "my officers acted in good faith."

Later in the year, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) launched an investigation against Toronto Police detective John Theriault, father of Michael and Christian. A complaint lodged with OIPRD alleged that Det. Theriault had indeed interfered with the process of notifying the SIU that one of Mr. Miller's alleged attackers was a Toronto Police officer.

Chief Saunders's response to this development? Silence.

There's a heap more info on what happened to Dafonte Miller in the OHRC report. Do take the time to read it.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:44 PM on December 11, 2018 [5 favorites]

Sound of da Police remains...

As does Mr. Metro.

Plus ça change.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:46 PM on December 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

Also, a relevant article: Here’s What You Need to Know About Carding [CBC]
“The police practice of documenting the personal details of encounters with citizens — usually with no charges laid — has had many names since the '50s. Back in 1957, Toronto police were given actual cards, called "Suspect Cards," to document and forward information about persons of interest to detectives. Over the years, the card became a "form" and later a "report." By 2015, the practice was called "Community Engagements," but it the term "carding" stuck, and still involved random stops of citizens and collection of personal data — including details of physical appearance, address and contact information.

As police across North America began to integrate new technology into their investigations, information collected through carding was then put directly into computer databases. But who was being stopped and what was the information being used for?”
posted by Fizz at 5:55 AM on December 12, 2018 [5 favorites]

There is a pretty huge scandal brewing about the executive director of the Toronto Pride organization unilaterally deciding that having uniformed cops and police cars in 2019 Pride would be an excellent idea, just perfect, very wholesome, no trouble at all. Because we should all just completely forgive TPS's bungled handling of the Village serial killer, their excessive hassling of queer and trans people of all races, and, of course, their abysmally racist policing and attitudes that even more disproportionally affect queer/trans indigenous and people of colour.

It was in 2016, just 2 years ago, that Black Lives Matter shut down the parade with a sit-in, demanding the uniforms be removed (among other good demands), and the parade did not go on until they had their way.

That Pride's current executive director, who is a black woman, would just totally buck the needs and feelings of the board and membership, as well as the entire queer community, is just baffling. The only rational justification seems to be about money / a bribe of some sort. Where if the cops are welcome, then parade fees might be lesser or waived or something. Which is possibly the stupidest reason because honey, Pride was never about being endorsed or approved by the cops or the city.

I should probably dig up links to all of this shit but I don't want to spend the rest of the morning being absolutely infuriated so I'll just leave it: no one who is not straight and white is surprised by this shit. TPS is a Problem.

* It's a fairly non-contentious position in the community that people who are employed as cops are always welcome in Pride, with open arms, as long as they're not in uniform.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:52 AM on December 12, 2018 [8 favorites]

[A few comments deleted. Let's try that over. Go ahead and make your point without the "cops are a minority" stuff; that's a bad comparison and will lead to a pointless angry derail we're better off skipping.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:18 AM on December 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

I've noticed this perception, both among Canadians and otherwise, that Canada doesn't have the same problems with racism in our policing institutions as America. This myth is built on privilege and nationalism. We (by which I mean mostly white people although minorities like myself are certainly not immune to this if my previous experiences as an Asian-Canadian says anything) get wrapped up into a national identity of being "nice" and "diverse", and then use our privilege to prop that mythology up. Our inability - or unwillingness - to see and internalize the racism that happens in Canada daily becomes a tautologous argument for why there isn't any racism here.

I hope reports like this continue to shatter this cycle.

I should probably dig up links to all of this shit but I don't want to spend the rest of the morning being absolutely infuriated so I'll just leave it: no one who is not straight and white is surprised by this shit. TPS is a Problem.

Wow, are you me? The other day, my sign language interpreter told me that at their meeting, Toronto Pride weaponized Deaf people to silence the community - apparently they were telling people who were asking questions that they had to shut up because "Deaf people couldn't keep up". Never mind that they've failed to provide any standard of accessibility for the past few years, and at this particular meeting, they only provided one interpreter (where the standard is at least two because interpreters are supposed to alternate in 15 minute shifts), who is known in the community for being unqualified. I just spent the whole day in a white-hot rage, so I'm trying to avoid thinking about Toronto Pride for the time being.
posted by Conspire at 9:02 AM on December 12, 2018 [14 favorites]

Toronto Pride is so deep into being badly run I'm not sure it can get itself out (the committees have committees!). Scary to think the same can be said for Toronto Police. We've got some issues here.

On the other hand, Desmond Cole (see carding piece above) is one of the smartest, most genuine people I have ever met.
posted by wellred at 12:02 PM on December 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

This is what accountability currently looks like, from an SIU investigation that concluded today:

On October 23, 2017, Toronto Police Service officers executed a search warrant on a man’s residence in Toronto. The man was found in a hallway and ordered to the floor while the residence was contained. The man complied and lay on his stomach as directed until he was handcuffed. At some point, the man was kicked in the face by an unknown officer. While the Director of the Special Investigations Unit, Tony Loparco, has grounds to believe a criminal offence was committed, no charges will be laid due to the inability to identify the officer responsible for the man’s injury.

In any case, the other thing that's just happened is that Michael Ford (nephew of Rob and Doug Ford and son of Ennio Stirpe, a white supremacist currently in prison for attempted murder) was the only councillor who expressed interest in taking a councillor's seat (the other is Frances Nunziata, a longtime Ford family ally). This means Doug Ford's nephew will now sit on the Toronto Police Services Board.

Why is this important? The TPS, to its credit, completely and explicitly excluded Ron Taverner and his division from the Brazen and Brazen 2 investigations (in which they investigated the late Rob Ford's connection to gangs, crack, and a murder), because they knew that Taverner would tip off the Fords, as he is a long-time family friend:

An old friend of the Ford family has been appointed to head the Ontario Provincial Police, a job many consider him to be under-qualified for. We look back to Doug's history with Ron Taverner, as well as the group of unofficial advisors who surrounded the Fords for years.

The oversight of Brazen 2 was later handed over to the OPP.

Now, Ron Taverner has been appointed to head up the OPP by premier Doug Ford, despite being underqualified for the job as set out in the original posting:

OPP interim commissioner asks ombudsman to review Taverner’s appointment over ‘potential political interference’

See also: Close adviser to Premier Doug Ford had real estate deal with future OPP commissioner Ron Taverner

And from this morning, via the Twitter feed of Mike Crawley, a CBC reporter:

And Premier Doug Ford is now gone from the hotel, snuck out through a back door to dodge questions on the current OPP commissioner’s bombshell new allegations that Ford‘s chief of staff told the OPP to buy Ford a camper van and hide the expense from the public.

So, to bring this back around to the findings of the OHRC report: one of the city councillors who will end up on the Toronto Police Services Board is from a family of racists (the Fords and their retinue), which also has a long history of deeply corrupt involvement with the police, at both the municipal and provincial level.

*raises right hand*

And I swear I'm making none of this up. If only.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:19 PM on December 12, 2018 [10 favorites]

I wonder if the same statistics for the percentage of people shot by police that are disabled is true for Canada as it is for US? Half of all people shot and killed by the police in US are disabled in one way or another. It seems that being black and disabled increases one's odds of being shot and killed quite a bit. This is sickening.
posted by RuvaBlue at 4:09 PM on December 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

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