12 Jan Carding Games
*Current Chief Mark Saunders and predecessor Bill Blair
As we roll into the New Year, I want to shed light on this issue of “carding” that has been progressing like a chess game. Basically 3 major moves were played by TPS and the government to lock down this police activity. Before I start off this post, I want to make a quick overstanding about the main difference between carding and racial profiling. I’m doing this because anybody outside of Toronto will be able to follow and have a better idea about this topic. The absolute truth about carding and racial profiling is that they are one in the same, there is no difference. Imagine a Klan member taking off his robes and putting on a suit because it’s more appealing to the public. Just because you clean the image or make it more acceptable doesn’t mean that the ideology changed. Police with help from media, used a different name as if they were re-branding a product.
If your Black, racial profiling shouldn’t be new to you. Either you have your own experiences or you know some family or friends who have their stories. This poisonous police practice has been going on before the carding mandate was implemented more then a decade ago. The term street check and carding are insulting to Black and other people of color because the title only makes it sound politically correct. They use the theory of crime prevention in order for this idea to appeal to the general population. They never have any evidence to back up their claims to demonstrate how carding is effective. Carding is easily a numbers game, and non-white people are the actual collective numbers.
When officers engage in carding, they start a conversation with you to find out a little bit about yourself, where you’re going and so on. This procedure ends with the officer taking your personal information whether or not you committed a crime. The information is fed into a database, while TPS said this pool of info would be temporary. The database is now essentially permanent, with the majority of people part of the data bank never committing a crime. The public relations campaign of Toronto police “getting to know the community” was misleading.
Former Chief Blair was the one who initiated this campaign for better relations with the community. His history with dealing with racial tensions was why he was appointed police chief in the first place. He was first to acknowledge racism in the police service after a race riot in 1995, 45 cops and about 100 residents were involved after a officer threw a racial slur at a bystander during an arrest. Blair acknowledged racism exists in the force at a town hall meeting about the riot soon after. Predecessor Fantino denied racism existed for years and did nothing about it.
Racial profiling has been going on as for long as I can remember through my experiences. In addition to my own, I watched other people’s experiences in my community and others. I’m sure many other people growing up in government housing feel the same way. I’m sure many other people growing up outside of government housing feel the same way as well. Matters like being stopped simply to be asked what you’re doing and where you’re going as a child, teen and young adult has happened an excessive amount of times. People think it’s a respectability issue between Black people and police. We have to act or dress a certain way when interacting with police. We should show law enforcement some sign of respect if and only if they reciprocate that respect in my opinion. No child is born hostile towards police and we shouldn’t forget police destroyed relations with our community, not the other way around. Police have been out of line before the generation of rap music and baggy clothes.
The difference between racial profiling in Toronto and mega cities down south is that interactions don’t end up as deadly. My last piece about Andrew Burger and Marquel Johnson is a small indication of the police state between Canada and America. The whole confrontation would have ended up differently if it was in New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia, etc…Toronto police can be aggressive but lack the same qualitative hyper aggressiveness that makes United States professionals in police brutality. America’s police state and others all over the world reminds me of Machiavellian principles when it comes to dealing with anybody who may pose any overt or subtle opposition to authority. The first reaction or display of authority will be the most swift and brutal to send a message to everyone else who dares to stand up. These are the same principles street gangs and organized crime groups thrive on. The only difference is officers are wearing a badges and financed by taxpayers.
This policy is comparable to the controversial “Stop and Frisk” initiative in New York. It’s supposed to be a preventative crime measure, while it’s no coincidence it openly targets Black and Latino males. There is no bullshit conversation to waste your time, they put their hands on you right away. Even though this practice has slowed down after it was ruled unconstitutional in 2013, it still continues. NYPD officers have been reported not to be documenting some encounters which shows a police force adapting to the limitations and reconstructing new forms of policing on their own. They have been using the same tactics for so long, the only people that are able to show new policing methods are their superiors.
It was predicted that stop and frisk being eliminated would increase crime by former Mayor Guilliani and other ranking police. The truth is the decrease in stop and frisk doesn’t indicate a rise in crime, in fact it’s the opposite. Fear mongering is also a very good tool to keep public support on their side. They create a narrative where if you don’t support carding or stop and frisk, then you must support higher crime….
If TPS was really interested in better relations with the community, why did it take The Toronto Star 7 years to retrieve the information on the carding database from 2002-2009? Why TPS didn’t readily release the information can be anybody’s obvious guess. They simply knew how bad the findings would be while it gave them more time to collect additional information and make their database bigger. Making their politically correct version of racial profiling has actually been their own downfall. This was able to give the public a number on how often all Black people are approached by police.
Most Black Torontonians are stopped multiple times, even when they reveal they have been previously carded. TPS appear to have been working hard to cover up their dealings with the community, the same community they are trying to warm up to and melt tensions. The harder the oppressor appears to be working to calm the atmosphere of our rising feelings, less heat comes from the community. If we actually feel like something is getting done or will get done based on false promises, we stop rising for change.
Former Chief Blair has been instrumental in keeping the public calm, while keeping the motion of carding continuous. His record on human rights allows Black people to give him a chance to fix the situation. His earlier legacy of acknowledging racism and discrimination plus pushing the force into diversity due to severe racial imbalance had everyone bamboozled. I could give him the benefit of the doubt and say Blair started off genuinely to make change. The same man that acknowledged racism was not the same man who defended carding on his way out as chief.
Even after suspending it early 2015 after reports made it clear that black people were most effected and outrage poured out of communities. The average number was 3 but black people could be 10 times more likely to be carded than whites. This was the first major move out of 3 to keep it permanent. Blair completely supporting the practice as a new chief was being appointed. He effectively reversed his stance on human rights while ushering in Black people’s worst nightmare. An internal puppet when it comes to compliance with oppression and white supremacy. I’m sure at the time, we weren’t able to see this next move.
The aftermath has left us with Toronto’s first Black police chief, unsympathetic towards our issues so far. The issues of Andrew Burger and Andrew Loku should have garnered some kind of statement but it just demonstrates Chief Saunders role in maintaining the status quo in the TPS. He doesn’t want to deal with the backlash from the Black community, supporting his force in racial matters. His silence on those issues shows how weak he is confronting them and more of the strings of motivation will show in the future. Saunders’ views on carding was the second major move, when he said the database will be maintained just in case any of these people, most of whom are innocent, would go through the process of court proceedings in the future…… How do the estimated 2,000 gang members in the city blanket the 400,000+ black citizens of Toronto?
We were wrong to think that the first Black police chief would try to put an end to this practice. During that time, while I wasn’t as conscious as I am now, I actually thought a Black chief would make things better. This careful plan, endorsements from one chief to another, has now involved the Ontario government to make carding province wide. The final move to cement a racist legacy by trying to write new regulations. The only answer was to remove it but they decided to step in and “fix it”. They don’t plan on ending the practice, they are condemning the racial aspect, at the same time agreeing it needs rules and regulations.
Everything is now fair game because we have a Black police chief agreeing carding must continue. Blair created the practice and upheld it so he would be able to pass the baton to Saunders. Chief Saunders protecting it with his dark skin and compliance and now the government is involved in giving it another face-lift. Their solution is to make better guidelines for human rights concerns but the underlying problem that won’t be addressed is how useless they are at controlling the actual police officers implementing the practice. They can make all the rules and regulations but officers are the foot soldiers on the street. With no one policing the police it will be hard for the government to make sure they are always following new rules.
Black people need to realize that unless we have a united front on all issues, we will always stay reactionary and a step behind. We can’t expect anything from Chief Saunders, he hasn’t been head of police for more than a year and has already demonstrated how much of an instrumental tool he is, physically with his black skin and his compliance. He is merely a puppet and will ignore issues that deal with the community as they trickle into the New Year. We can’t wait another 10 years to do something about our community. We can’t wait for another Black police chief, only for us to find out he is protecting his predecessor’s legacy. The solution is to be united the same way the government and the past 2 police chiefs are all united fundamentally on this issue. Some of our people are already mobilizing while others have been in action for years. If all communities came together through organization, it will be difficult to muffle our voices collectively.
Peace and Blessings to all