beverly bain toronto police

Activist Beverly Bain hailed as hero for brilliant response to Toronto Police's racism apology

University of Toronto professor and veteran activist Beverly Bain is the toast of Twitter today after delivering some show-stopping remarks during a press conference in which police attempted to apologize for what we can now quantitatively say is widespread, blatant and recent racism on the force.

"I'm here to address what I see as really egregious in terms of this particular public relations stunt that has been delivered by your chief here, Chief Ramer," said Bain during a Toronto Police Service (TPS) press conference held to address a crush of damning, race-based data released earlier the same day

"This has nothing to do with the Black community. In fact, the Black community never asked for an apology, neither did I think you were apologizing to the Black community."

The Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies professor directly addressed Toronto's interim chief of police, James Ramer, whom minutes earlier had issued an apology for the "disproportionate" use of police force "experienced by racialized people, and particulary those from Black communities."

"As chief of police, and on behalf of the service, I am sorry, and I apologize unreservedly," said Ramer during the presser.

"Chief Ramer, we do not accept your apology," said Bain later during the event when delivering her now-viral comments.

For the record, all law enforcement services in Ontario were directed to begin collecting race-based data whenever reportable use of force occurred back in 2019. The Toronto Police Service did not choose to release this data, but was legislatively mandated to.

The report released today was the result of a "Race-Based Data Collection, Analysis and Public Reporting" policy, approved in September of 2019, and based on data collected throughout 2020.

Its findings came as little surprise to anyone familiar with the longstanding issue of how police, not only in Toronto but across the continent, disproportionately harass and kill Black people.

Among the data points released today, in 2020:

  • Members of the Black community in Toronto were 230 per cent more likely than white people to have a firearm pointed at them when appearing to be unarmed.
  • Black residents were five times more likely than white people to experience police force.
  • Black community were more than twice as likely to be stopped by police than other residents in 2020, despite making up only about 10 per cent of the city's residents.
  • Black residents accounted for 39.4 per cent of all "use of force" incidents within the Toronto Police Service.
  • Indigenous people were 1.4 times more likely to experience police use of force than the average, while white people comprised 20 per cent less-than-average among all crisis calls.

The list goes on and on (The Star's Jennifer Pagliaro has a great piece on the findings) but, needless to say, any efforts by Toronto Police to confront anti-Black racism on the force fell desperately short in 2020.

The report touched a nerve among many in the city who, while already knowing that this type of discrimination exists, were sad to see that it's not getting much better.

Bain appears to have spoken for a lot of people when she rejected Ramer's apology — an apology that nobody asked for, as she pointed out — and asked instead for police to simply stop targeting people of colour.

"This is not about saving our lives. What we have asked for you to do is to stop. To stop brutalizing us, to stop killing us, to stop carding us, to stop continuously stopping us and harassing our children — our Black children, our Black sons, our Black daughters," said Bain in a now widely-viewed statement at Toronto Police Service (TPS) headquarters.

Ramer's contradictory contentions, including that the problems stem from "systemic discrimination in our policing," and that individual officers who are found to engage in racist misconduct will be dealt with, did not go unaddressed.

"You're not telling us how you're going to stop the violence against us. You have not told us how you're going to stop the killing of our people," said Bain, speaking on behalf of the No Pride in Policing Coalition (NPPC).

"You have not said how we can be sure that we can walk the streets safely without being stopped. You have not said anything about that. In fact, what we have witnessed is going to continue."

The NPPC describes itself as "an antiracist queer and trans group formed to support Black Lives Matter – Toronto and is focused on defunding and abolishing the police."

The group initiated the Pride Day 2020 Defund and Abolish All Police rally, and hosted roughly 3,000 people in a teaching action at Nathan Philips Square in June 28, 2020.

Bain was one of several experts, academics and reporters present at the TPS press conference, and far from the only person to press police on their apology.

Toronto journalist, author and activist Desmond Cole also spoke powerfully on the issue outside of TPS headquarters following the conference.

"We don't want police investigating each other and then telling us what the result of their internal process and investigation was. We've been very clear about that for a very, very long time now," said Cole, also a member of the NPPC.

"If the only thing that we have is the police saying, 'when there's an individual act of racism within the force by one person we'll take care of it,' I mean, how is that working out for us all?... Isn't that why we're here today? Because that process is completely bankrupt."

Praise and condemnation have been pouring forth on Twitter in relation to the situation all day — to the report, Ramer's response, the responses of people who called out his response as bull — but one sole sentiment seems to be revolving around Bain, in particular.

"She lit them up, REAL NICE!" wrote one viewer on Twitter of Bain's speech.

"Not all heroes wear capes," wrote another. "Shoutout to this woman for standing up in front of Chief Ramer at the Toronto Police press conference."

"Bravo Beverly. They know exactly what you were talking about and the chief lied when he said the rank and file were only following direction from above," wrote another commenter still. "They know what they are doing is wrong but they still do it and it will continue."

Lead photo by

Beverly Bain

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