You were put here to protect us but who protects us from you - Krs-one
Dear Police Chief Blair.
I am disturbed by your recent comments regarding the racial profiling case against your officers which was just recently heard by the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. After the Tribunal ruled in favor of an innocent black postal worker, you were quoted as saying that the ruling, that your officers were guilty of racial profiling, set an "impossibly high standard" and that the decision "sets a standard that's new, that can't be met" by any reasonable, fair-minded officer.
Lets examine the facts of the case. Your policemen were in the upscale Toronto neighourhood of Bridal Path investigating cut telephone lines and looking for suspects described as white, eastern Europeans seen in a car. Along comes black postal worker Mr Phipps, (and he ain't light skin that you could say they mistook him for white) walking with his mailbags. Please note that Mr Phipps was wearing his standard issue mailman's uniform and as noted before carrying his mailbags at this time. The officers saw him speak to a homeowner, which postmen are known to do on occasion even when they don't have mail for that particular household. Your policemen then trailed him because he didn't actually give that homeowner mail and he crisscrossed the street again something postmen are known to do when delivering mail from home to home. They questioned him and then they asked another white mailman to confirm that he Mr Phipps was in fact a mailman even though the uniform and the heavy mailbags should have given that away already.
I mean either your officers are complete imbeciles or this is racial profiling Chief Blair.
I mean if a black man clearly identified by his uniform, doing his job cannot get the benefit here of not being thought to be somehow up to no good and to have criminal intent what hope is there for us non-uniform wearers who might just have happened to pass through a certain neighbourhood where your staff think we don't belong? Seriously how fair minded was it for your officers to accost Mr Phipps like this?
Are your officers generally fond of stopping letter carriers? Had they never seen a mailman before? Do they ever stop white letter carriers? Are you implying that perhaps Canada Post should only assign white mail carriers to Bridal Path and other affluent neighbourhoods to avoid any possible further misunderstandings because blacks in these types of neighbourhood are suspicious?
And I'm not trying to get involved in the Prof Henry Gates incident here although actor Jeffrey Wright does do a lovely op-ed with regard to that story but that's the U.S, this is a Toronto. Problems similar but not exactly the same so lets just deal with Toronto and its police and their relations with us minorities here.
I mean I understand you have to show some support for your officers Chief Blair but this case is about as blatant as racial profiling could possibly get. Even Stevie Wonder could see this.
And I truly believe a man of your position wading into this fray should pick and choose his words carefully. I understand the blue fraternity's culture and ethos dictates that you should support your boys but really their actions were totally unjustified and inexcusable.
You want to know why black people don't trust the police, why the black community is so skeptical with regards to our lawmen? Why there is enmity between the two camps? Search no further than your own words that this ruling sets an impossibly high standard. How is the standard impossibly high when a man doing his job, showing all the outward signs of doing his job, dressed in a uniform clearly showing that he belongs to a specific organization and has the tools ie mailbags for the job is harassed by your officers and assumed to be a suspicious character/character of interest?
What the average black person reads into that comment is that policemen think its alright to profile us, even when the evidence is exceedingly overwhelming that we are law abiding, hardworking, minding our own business, stand up folk like Mr Phipps. We say well if a guy like Mr Phipps can be targeted like that what about the average black man or woman; ourselves, our friends, our sons and daughters? Is the average black person safe from profiling if they happen to be visiting a friend in a neighbourhood that doesn't have many black homeowners?
No wonder the black community barricades itself off.
Your comments make us say well the chief seems to support racial profiling so you got to watch your back with these policemen. Those comments do nothing but advance the feelings of mistrust between the two groups. Instead what was needed here from you, Chief Blair, were comments to try to foster some sense of camaraderie, some feeling of empathy for our situation. some statement which while probably false stated that this was not a normal occurrence and was just a mistake on the policeman's part, some reassurance that you don't have us squarely with a bullseye painted on our backs.
But instead we got a closing of the policeman ranks. A statement that while not overtly us vs them in nature still subconsciously says the same thing.
Mi shame say you a say what you a say, Mr Blair. Mi had ya class different. I've lost some of the respect I had for you.