ohrc report

Toronto Police found to arrest and kill Black residents at a disproportionate rate

A new report released on Monday by the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) as part of its inquiry into racial profiling and discrimination in law enforcement has some damning, but sadly unsurprising findings about Toronto police: that they arrest, charge (and over-charge), assault, shoot and kill Black citizens at a higher rate than any other group.

This is the second interim report on the subject from the commission, which sourced criminologist examinations of TPS stats on arrests and use of force between 2013 and 2017.

The document, titled A Disparate Impact, reveals that Black people represent 32 per cent of charges in general, including 34 per cent of driving charges for offences not apparent without first pulling a vehicle over, and 38 per cent of cannabis charges, despite comprising just 8.8 per cent of the city's population.

Also, Black individuals were found to be involved in a staggering 25 per cent of Special Investigations Unit cases, where police were involved in a death, serious injury or alleged sexual assault, as well as 39 per cent of such cases involving use of force.

"Black people were more likely to be involved in use of force cases that involved proactive policing (for example, when an officer decides to stop and question someone) than reactive policing (for example, when the police respond to a call for assistance)," the report adds, highlighting issues of obvious racial profiling.

The OHRC believes that this data points to deep anti-Black racism within our policing system — something that activists worldwide have been saying for months as they continue to call for police to be defunded and held accountable for countless Black deaths in custody in recent memory.

"The OHRC continues to hear from Black communities in Toronto about the damaging effects of policing, including over-charging and excessive use of force, and the data released today is consistent with the concerns of systemic racism and anti-Black bias in policing we have heard for over four decades," the government agency says in a statement about this latest study.

In light of this, it is now asking the Toronto Police Service and its board, as well as the City of Toronto and the provincial government to "take immediate action to address systemic and anti-Black racism in policing and to respect and protect racialized people in Toronto."

Despite the information gleaned from inquiries by bodies like the ORHC, the racist responses to this news are pretty rampant already, with some trying to belittle the problem by pointing out other trends that can be derived from the report, such the fact that men are also technically disproportionately arrested and charged in Toronto.

With persistent and ongoing calls for substantive changes to law enforcement, Toronto's police budget remains untouched — sitting at $1.2 billion for 2020 — though the force has made some plans to confront its inherent racism, including implementing further mandatory ethics, inclusivity and human rights training and making its Anti-Racism Advisory Panel permanent.

Lead photo by

Jeremy Gilbert

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