The following release was written by the African Canadian Legal Clinic in response to the Toronto Police Association’s recent statements on anti-Black racism in the Toronto Police Service.
In two recent articles published by the Toronto Star, Mike McCormack, the President of the Toronto Police Association (TPA), denied the existence of anti-Black racism in the Toronto Police Service (TPS). The African Canadian Legal Clinic (ACLC) unreservedly deplores the TPA’s reversion to a dated and discredited tactic of responding to anti-Black racism through reckless, wholesale denial and dismissal of the lived experiences, dignity and humanity of African Canadians.
The ACLC reminds the press and community that in 2002, when the Star released its first major investigative report revealing racial profiling in the TPS, a categorical denial was the immediate intractable response by the city’s policing authorities. At the time, the Chief of Police, Julian Fantino; head of the TPA, Craig Bromell; Chair of the Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB), Norm Gardner and even the mayor of the day, Mel Lastman, all vociferously denied the existence of racial profiling and any form of racism within the TPS.
To respond to the Star’s findings, Julian Fantino hired Edward Harvey of OISE who, along with lawyer, Alan Gold, made a presentation to the TPSB in February 2003 to discredit the Toronto Star’s analysis. Gold’s presentation was especially hyperbolic as he referred to the Star’s analysis using such terms as ‘illogical’, ‘unreasonable conclusions’ and ‘scientifically unsound’.
McCormack’s recent articles are eerily similar to Gold’s 2003 presentation. Any question of whether the TPA’s current media strategy is a direct return to tried, failed and since abandoned attempts to legitimately deny the existence of anti-Black racism is eliminated when it is recognized that McCormack borrows language directly from Gold’s 2003 presentation. Like Gold, McCormack repeatedly uses ‘junk science’ to characterize Desmond Cole and anyone else’s conclusions that the Star’s most recent carding data is evidence of systemic anti-Black racism in the TPS.
“Since 2002, the African Canadian community has come way too far, and fought way too hard to assist the TPS in recognizing and eliminating anti-Black racism to have the TPA now suddenly attempt to bring us back to square one,” said Margaret Parsons, Executive Director of the ACLC. “After more than a decade of progress, there are few media strategies other than this one that could be more detrimental to building a strong relationship of trust and understanding between police and the African Canadian community.
“This baffling and recklessly irresponsible decision by the TPA brings into question the very credibility and competence of the Toronto Police Service to work in good faith to proactively recognize and eliminate anti-Black racism in any form that it manifests in Toronto police practices.”