By TOM GODFREY
A record number of complaints alleging racial profiling and carding against GTA police forces are being filed these days by upset members of the community.
There are now seven complaints before the Ontario Human Rights Commission that were filed by Black men who allege they were profiled by Toronto and area police officers.
Four of the complaints were found to contain some merit and sent for hearings before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario that will render decisions.
One complaint against York Regional Police was dismissed; one naming Peel Regional Police is in the early stages and one of four filed against Toronto police has been sent for mediation.
Of the cases referred for a hearing, three involve complaints leveled against Toronto police and one against the OPP.
Some Toronto lawyers say it is unheard of to have seven complaints against police registered with the Commission at any time.
“This is the most active I have seen the Tribunal when it comes to these types of cases,” said lawyer Dr. Munyonzwe Hamalengwa. “I have never seen so many complaints against police filed in one swoop.”
Hamalengwa, who is a former Tribunal board member, believes the hearings may have stemmed from a backlog of cases before the Commission.
“People are no long just sitting and fretting in their rooms,” he said. “People are talking about profiling by police and they are doing something about it.”
The Black Action Defense Committee (BADC) was first of the mark, when it launched a $200 million class action suit against Chief Bill Blair and the Toronto Police Services Board in regards to the racial profiling and carding allegations.
And a similar $125 million lawsuit is also proceeding against Peel police, former Chief Mike Metcalfe and several officers.
Hamalengwa believes the message is getting out as more residents are showing up at meetings to inform the community of the lawsuits. Another meeting is planned for April 11 at Ryerson University.
He said children as young as 12 years old in the Malvern community have told organizers that they were targeted by police.
“We have found out that young girls as well as boys are being profiled by police,” Hamalengwa alleged. “People in the community are concerned and want more information.”
Alleged victims of profiling are like you or me. They come in all ages and sizes, with one thing in common being the colour of our skin.
The applicants, in most of the complaints, are angered by alleged police actions and are hoping the Tribunal can hold suspected officers responsible.
In one case, a Toronto man alleges he was “mistreated by police and stopped repeatedly because he is a Black Jamaican man with dreads.”
Another victim said he was stopped at a downtown mall by two officers who were searching for a tall Black male with a gun.
The victim in his complaint alleged he was “searched, inappropriately grabbed and subjected to a racist comment.”
A third man claimed he was stopped by two officers and issued a ticket for smoking in a bus shelter. Police were searching for another Black suspect at the time.
“The applicant alleges that the decision to stop and to issue him a ticket was racially motivated,” his complaint states.
A Toronto man claimed he was hospitalized after suffering an alleged panic attack due to the way he was treated by police who were probing a neighbourhood dispute.
Another victim claimed he was profiled by an OPP officer who pulled him over on a highway, forcibly removed him from his vehicle and issued him several traffic citations.
The allegations have yet to be determined and some may be dismissed.
Yet, one has to ask if all these men are lying. You be the judge.