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New Toronto Police Report Reveals Racism in use of Force Procedures

A recent Toronto police report has confirmed what many racialized groups in the city long claimed: Black, Middle Eastern and other diverse groups are disproportionately affected by the use of force by Toronto police officers.

“As an organization, we have not done enough to ensure that every person in our city receives fair and unbiased policing,” interim Toronto Police Chief James Ramer said at a news conference earlier last week.

The report, which was released on Wednesday, was compiled by the force’s Equity, Inclusion and Human Rights Unit, alongside outside data experts in concert with a 12-member community panel.

It drew from 949 use of force records and 7,114 strip search records from 2020.

Among the report’s findings, Black and Middle Eastern people were overrepresented in the number of “enforcement actions” taken against them — which includes provincial offences tickets and arrests — relative to their total Toronto population.

Black residents, for example, made up just 10.2 percent of Toronto’s population, but faced around 24.4 percent of police enforcement, 39.4 percent of use of force, and 31.2 percent of strip searches.

Middle Eastern people, made up just 4.4 per cent of Toronto’s population, but faced about 4.9 per cent of police enforcement and 5.9 per cent of use of force.

Ramer said this data discloses that “there is systemic discrimination in our policing.” He apologized on behalf of the police — but some activists are not satisfied.

Beverly Bain, a University of Toronto Mississauga professor, called the apology a “public relations stunt.”

“This is not about saving our lives. What we have asked for you to do is stop. To stop brutalizing us. To stop killing us,” she said during the news conference.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Toronto Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson, the city’s only Black city councillor, said he applauds Chief Ramer’s sincerity and personal commitment to eliminating racism.

“But while an apology is a welcome first step, it is just noise unless it is backed by sustained, concrete and systematic actions to dismantle the police service’s failed strategies and institute new approaches free from embedded racism,” he said.

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