Toronto police again turn victim into suspect: Cole
Needless escalations like the one I witnessed explain how black men like Andrew Loku and Jermaine Carby end up being shot and killed by police
Police carding is alive and well — I just witnessed it.
On my way to a Blue Jays game on Tuesday, I saw a young black man standing on the sidewalk in Chinatown, surrounded by Toronto police, his hands held in the air. The man was backed up against a storefront window, wide-eyed and trembling. The fear in this man’s face gripped me and I approached the scene to make sure he was all right.
Toronto Police tell us that carding — the arbitrary stopping and documenting of civilians in Toronto — is over, but I witnessed it yet again this week with my eyes, and through the lens of my cellphone camera. Cops say they care about good community relations, but their treatment of this man, and of me for looking out for him, proves that many officers value intimidation over dialogue. They continue detaining, searching, and documenting innocent people, especially black people, and putting our lives at risk to satisfy their own prejudices.
I couldn’t determine this young man’s name, but we’ll call him Omar. When I arrived at the scene on Spadina Ave. near Dundas St. W., police were clearly running Omar’s name through their databases to determine his identity. As he stood flabbergasted, Omar kept asking police, “Why are you making this about me? I’m the one who called you!”
Police were repeatedly questioning Omar about his middle name, and about his precise address, as if he may have been trying to mislead them. An officer on the scene would later tell me that Omar himself had called 911 to say he’d been stabbed (I heard Omar tell police about being robbed, not stabbed — he produced some cash from a pocket to indicate what he’d lost). But at that moment, Omar was being treated as a suspect, humiliated on a public street after he’d called for help.