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Comments for Sept 1, 2015 ACLC Press Conference on Carding and Police Checks

September 2, 2015

Nigel Barriffe, Board Chair, Urban Alliance on Race Relations:

The Urban Alliance on Race Relations joins the African Canadian Legal Clinic, the Anti-Black Racism Network, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, and Black Lives Matter  in opposing the ongoing  practice of ‘street checks’ or ‘carding’, as the practice is known in Toronto.  It is our position that the practice of randomly stopping  individuals and collecting their information in a police database  is an expression of systemic discrimination and racism in our society, a practice which particularly targets young black and brown men.  As the African Canadian Legal Clinic lays out in their Legal Opinion, the practice of carding has “led individuals to lose employment and educational opportunities due to these interactions appearing on police record checks; has institutionalized and justified the criminalization of the African Canadian community; has eroded individuals’ and the community’s collective sense of security;  and has detrimentally impacted African Canadians’ sense of human dignity, and created a chilling effect on the community’s engagement with the legal system.  The practice is arbitrary, unreasonable and discriminatory.  On the basis of experiences members of the community members have had with carding for many years, we support the ACLC’s position that ongoing carding violates  the  Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Ontario Human Rights Code. The Ontario Government should heed the extensive research and commentary documenting the discriminatory impact of carding and call for an immediate end to the practice.

For 40 years, the Urban Alliance on Race Relations has worked to address racism in society, working proactively with the broader community. In 1975 a group of concerned Torontonians came together to discuss the rise in hate motivated violence against African and South Asian Canadian in Toronto’s public spaces.  Today, we persist in this work, examining the institutional racism that continues to face people of colour and other groups experiencing discrimination.  Less than 2 months ago, many of the same community members that are present here came together to express sadness and outrage at the death of Andrew Loku at the hands  of police, a black man suffering from mental illness, who was shot within two minutes of interaction with police. Like Sammy Yatim two years previously, Andrew Loku’s death demonstrated excessive police use of force against racialized and stigmatized community members, resulting  in tragic death. These instances, like carding or police checks, only undermine the community’s trust in police, so that they  are seen not as protecting the public, particularly those who are most vulnerable, but as a threat to them.

As a practice, carding is another example of excessive  use of power and authority by police and its negative effects are especially felt by people of colour and in large majority by young black and brown people. The Urban Alliance for Race Relations joins in solidarity with the other community groups represented here to call for its immediate end.

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