A new report from the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has found that black people are more likely than others to be arrested, charged or to use force against them when interacting with police in Toronto.
The report, which is the second interim report of the OHRC’s investigation into racial profiling and discrimination, includes an analysis of Toronto Police Service data from 2013 to 2017.
“The results… are very disturbing and confirm what black communities have said for decades – that black people bear a disproportionate burden of law enforcement,” the commission said in a press release.
The study found that while blacks make up only 8.8% of Toronto’s population, they make up almost 32% of those charged, while whites and other racialized groups were under-represented.
The report also found that only a fifth of all charges laid during this period resulted in a conviction, but that charges against blacks were more likely to be withdrawn and less likely to result in a conviction, which which, according to the commission, “raises systemic concerns about charging practices. ”
Data analyzed by the OHRC also shows that blacks make up 38% of those charged with marijuana-related offenses, despite conviction rates and studies showing that they use cannabis at rates similar to whites.
“The time for debating the existence of an anti-black prejudice is over. OHRC calls on the TPS, the TPSB, the City of Toronto and the Government of Ontario to take immediate action to address systemic and anti-Black racism in police services and to respect and protect racialized people in Toronto, ”said Ena Chadha, Acting Chief Commissioner of the OHRC, in a statement.
“It’s time to make transformative changes in law enforcement institutions and systems that produce such disparate results – community trust and safety, especially the safety of black lives, depend on it. “
“None of the conclusions … is a shock”
Racial justice attorney Anthony Morgan, director of the City of Toronto’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism unit, said at Monday’s press conference that black communities and their allies do not need to another report showing the systemic problems of policing in Toronto.
“None of the findings from these reports are a shock or really a surprise,” Morgan said.
Instead, he said, this report is aimed at policymakers, politicians and those in positions of power in the justice system, and he hopes it will be discussed in detail by those in those positions. .
The report also found that black people made up 34% of those involved in single sight driving charges, such as driving without insurance, which senior researcher and University of Toronto professor Scot Wortley said could not be discoveries only through police observation. the race of a pilot or the stopping and questioning of a pilot.
Blacks have also been involved in 25% of all investigations by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which investigates cases of death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault, according to the report.
They were also involved in 39 percent of “low level” use of force cases, which do not meet the SIU threshold.
“These are black lives, and black lives matter”
In a Monday morning press conference, Chadha said it was important to remember that these numbers are more than just statistics.
“These are black lives, and black lives matter,” she said.
Wortley said there is a perception that blacks find themselves in interactions with police at disproportionate rates due to their involvement with guns and gangs.
“Our data challenges that stereotype,” he said.
Instead, the data revealed that most use of force incidents involve unarmed civilians with no criminal record. Few of the cases involved a gun – but many cases involved people with mental health crises or with addiction issues.
For more stories about the experiences of black Canadians – from anti-black racism to successes within the black community – check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project of which black Canadians can be proud. You can read more stories here.