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Urban Alliance on Race Relations Deputation on TPSB Community Contacts Policy (TPSB Special Board Meeting: April 8, 2014)

April 8, 2014

Urban Alliance on Race Relations Deputation on TPSB Community Contacts Policy (TPSB Special Board Meeting: April 8, 2014)

Good evening. Before I start, it is with a heart of thanks, and in a spirit of respect and solidarity that I would like to acknowledge that we are on the traditional territory of the Mississauga of New Credit First Nations people.
My name is Anthony Morgan. I am a lawyer and Board Member of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations (“UARR”). We value the opportunity to speak to this important and pressing issue.

It is the UARR’s position that the practice of carding must not only stop, but also be recognized as a prohibited policing practice of the Toronto Police Service.

Carding is a discriminatory practice in that it violates the equality rights of young Black and Brown people in this city. The right to equality is a fundamental right that our young people are guaranteed under the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

This draft policy poses a significant threat to the values of democratic and multicultural citizenship. It seeks to justify the systematic and targeted extraction, collection and indefinite warehousing of the private information of young Black and Brown civilians and the people they are connected with — even when these young people are not suspected of having engaged in any criminal wrongdoing.

This is damaging to Black and Brown youths’ senses of belonging, self-esteem and exacerbates deep feelings of alienation from mainstream society. The 2008 report, The Roots of Youth Violence, as well a many other similar reports attest to how destructive such feelings are to the development of healthy, self-loving and responsible young people. Because of this, the practice of carding has no place as a legitimate form of interaction between civilians and our free and democratic State; of which the police are supposed to be representatives.

At a recent public consultation that UARR held on the practice of Police ‘carding’, we heard directly from youth workers how ‘carding’ stigmatizes at-risk youth and is counter-productive to developing a good relationship between police and marginalized nieghbourhoods. Youth know they are being racially targeted. As one youth worker said at that summit: “If the police want to establish a relationship with us, there are better ways to do it.” Another participant said, “Being Black is not a crime.”

From the perspective of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations, one of the most troubling aspects of this draft policy on carding is that it disproportionately and negatively affects young Black male citizens in staggering numbers , whereby since 2008, over 350,000 street checks are documented per year.

Between 2008 and 2011, the number of young black males, aged 15-24, who were documented at least once in the police patrol zone where they live exceeded the young black male population for all of Toronto by 3.4 times. The Star has also noted that Black people are charged with a disproportionate number of violent crime. The UARR is very concerned with these statistics and how they may be related.

The Toronto Star analysis of the Police’s own statistics beg the question of how this practice continues and what, if any, are the benefits of ‘Carding’? How does the police check it’s own systematic biases? We would refer the Police to the still relevant 1995 Commission on Systemic Racism in the Ontario Criminal Justice System.
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UARR knows that the current and the proposed Contacts Policy affects social relations between police and certain communities which are widely viewed as a ‘problem’.

What are we really talking about when use the label, “community” in this context?

“Community” is an externally imposed label to describe a group of people who only happen to look the same and experience the same forms of socio-economic exclusions. Yet, “community” is used in the title and throughout this policy. The UARR asks the TPSB to be more accountable and transparent by offering a definition of what it means by “Community” in this policy.

Let’s be honest – community relations by police looks different and is done differently in Rosedale than it is as is Dixon or Regent Park. This ‘carding’ practice, and even this proposed Contacts Policy, targets communities based on race, gender, age and geographic location – namely, TCH and low-income communities where known and alleged street gangs are active.

The use of ‘carding’ as a police practice, actually creates or at least exacerbates the problems that it professes to solve. For example, Carding makes innocent Black and Brown youth feel unsafe in their communities. This practice significantly diminishes public trust, compromises “community understanding” of individual rights and erodes public confidence in the police.

With all due respect to Mr. Addario and those he consulted this Contacts Policy arises almost entirely from individuals who live outside of the common, day-to-day realities of the people that the Contacts policy targets and singles out for heightened scrutiny and monitoring. To be credible and accepted as legitimate, the development of a policy like this demands meaningful partnership with the people the policy specifically targets.

The TPS wants to improve community confidence, enhance community understanding of individual rights, promote community trust and ensure public safety. These are necessary and laudable aims. However, instead of using carding for this, the TPS should develop more proactive strategies to assist what it calls “the Community” by working with them to lobby businesses and various levels of government for:

1. A more equitable, inclusive and responsible education system.
2. A guaranteed livable wage for all Torontonians
3. Affordable housing and food security
4. Accessible and affordable childcare
5. Sustainable youth employment and training opportunities
6. Better funding for arts, sports , health and recreation programs
7. Community safety strategies that are developed for and with the communities served

For the health and well-being of social and race relations in Toronto, what is needed is a more robust and innovative vision of what it means to serve and protect.

Related

On what Making Noise @Humber meant… “Words of Wisdom” by Megan Fitzgerald

March 26, 2014

“Words of Wisdom” by Megan Fitzgerald, student representative, Making Noise @Humber

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“Hi. My name is Megan Fitzgerald, and I am a member of the Making Noise @ Humber student committee. I was placed with the project through my program’s field practicum.

I’m going to be very honest with you. Before I was placed with Making Noise, I had never heard of the project, I didn’t know what it was or what it was for. However, I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and I now know that this was a blessing in disguise for me. I don’t say that because we got free food and really cool t-shirts. I say it because it gave me the opportunity to work with and learn from some amazing people passionate to speak out about this important topic.

During our first semester, we committee members were presented with workshops, learning from agencies across the GTA about various topics under the umbrella of gender-based violence, spanning from human rights to masculinity to women stereotypes. Through these workshops, we were provided with the basic, yet thorough, knowledge needed to better understand gender-based violence, as well as given tools and resources to recreate these presentations to the public.

I could never have imagined that a placement could impact me in so many ways. Not many people can say that they are happy to wake up on Mondays to go to school when they don’t even have class. I guess I was lucky that way. Working with this project really helped me gain perspective on what was going on around me. Personally, it even gave me the strength to end unhealthy relationships in my own life and grow as a person.

That is the power of this project. It is not about snapping your fingers and saying “stop” and expecting the violence to end there. I’m sure if it was that simple, someone would’ve done it a long time ago. It is about walking down the hallway and hearing someone make a racist comment or a sexist comment and being able to stop, be aware, and ask yourself what you can do to help that person. That is what this project is about, and that is why it is a great starting point.

It is a startling statistic that 1 in 3 women will be abused in their lifetime, in any shape or form. One woman is one too many! I feel like it is important for me, not just as a female, but as a female who has been affected by gender-based violence to speak out in order to get the message across that you are not alone, and you are not to blame. It is so easy to turn it around and believe that we got what we deserved, but you must know that that will never be the case.

You still have a voice, and that voice is so precious, for it is with that voice that you can begin making noise to raise awareness for the prevention of gender-based violence. That is the power of this project, and that is why I am so blessed and so proud to say that I am a part of Making Noise @ Humber!”

Making Noise @Humber Awareness Week Wrap up

March 26, 2014

Making Noise @Humber Awareness Week Campaign – A Success!!!

Thank you to the Humber Students’ Federation and Humber College for hosting the Making Noise @Humber Week. We were very proud to raise awareness about ending gender violence on campus with deliveries of workshop discussion forums, self-defense classes, celebrating International Women’s Day and sharing of the GBV Toolkit resource. The Launch was also a success featuring spoken word artists, theatre performances by Nomanzland and speeches by Dean of Students Jen McMillen and student representatives Megan Fitzgerald and Paul Kuypers.

UARR AGM and Public Forum

March 21, 2014

UARR AGM and Public Forum Creating an Equitable City

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Thanks to everyone for your support. The Urban Alliance on Race Relations (UARR) Annual General Meeting/Public Forum was a successful event because of your engagement and participation!

We welcomed two new incoming board members Chris Rahim and Anthony Morgan, as well as recognized our outgoing treasurer and long-serving board member Robin Clyke. It was our first at the new office location and the event was standing room only.

There was significant interest generated in the subject matter of the forum and our keynote speaker Uzma Shakir captivated the audience on the theme “Creating an Equitable City”.

A local online newspaper Torontoist was represented at the Forum, and Community Journalist Desmond Cole has written an article which is online at http://torontoist.com/2014/03/uzma-shakir-on-building-a-more-equitable-toronto/

Many of our allies and community partners were also represented in the audience.

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Media/Newsletter

The UARR invites you to attend our Annual General Meeting & Public Forum

March 17, 2014

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The UARR invites you to attend our Annual General Meeting & Public Forum to Recognize

The United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

 Thursday, March 20th, 2014

2 Carlton Street, Suite 1001, Toronto (Carlton & Yonge St.)

Annual General Meeting 5:30pm – 6:30pm

Public Forum 6:30pm – 7:30pm

 Guest Speaker:    

Uzma Shakir, Director of Equity,

Diversity and Human Rights, City of Toronto

Creating an Equitable City

Light refreshments sponsored by Labour Community Services

RSVP: yumei@urbanalliance.ca or call 416-703-6607 Ext. 5

UARR International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination – Race Matters Forum

March 6, 2014

Race Matters - Human Rights Day  Flyer_March 20_-2014The Urban Alliance on Race Relations Invites You to Attend Our Annual

Race Matters 2014

Public Forum to Recognize

The United Nations’ Designated International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (IDERD)

Date: March 20, 2014
Time: 6:30 -7.30pm

Venue: 2 Carlton St. Suite 1001,Toronto, Ontario

Keynote Speaker: Uzma Shakir, Director of Equity, Diversity and Human Rights, City of Toronto uzmashakir

Topic: Creating an Equitable City

Sponsors:
Urban Alliance on Race Relations, Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter, Council of Agencies Serving South Asians, Hispanic Development Council, Social Planning Toronto, Labour Community Services

Light Refreshments Will be Served

Info/RSVP: Yumei Lin at 416-703-6607 ex. 5

yumei@urbanalliance.ca

Making Noise @Humber – Successful R.A.D Training

March 5, 2014

Successful RAD W2014 Session (shared post from Humber College’s Department of Public Safety)

On February 25 and 27, 2014, the Department of Public Safety hosted the R.A.D. Self-Defense course at the Lakeshore Campus.

Thanks to Making Noise @ Humber, Humber Athletics and the Department of Public Safety for providing participants with lots of giveaways.

rad training participants

Some of the comments included:

“Awesome! I feel safer now. Thank you!” – T.S.

“It is an amazing program. I’ve learned useful techniques. Thank you!” – S.K.

“I feel confident knowing I can defend myself.” – Making Noise @ Humber.

Keep an eye out for the next set of self-defense classes! The instructors are looking forward to the next session.

(This post is shared from Humber College’s Department of Public Safety https://www.humber.ca/publicsafety/content/successful-rad-w2014-session)

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