Friday, July 24, 2009

Delivering mail while black

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.

Your respectfully


4panist said...

I don't usually comment but this blog requires a response. When I read about this story in the paper I was actually moved- anger, sadness, disbelief! Thank you for this letter to the police, if only I knew for sure they would read it.

Cool Destiny said...

I don't know when we'll ever get rid of racism. And the sad thing about it, it is the adults who have a problem accepting equality regardless of skin colour. Truth be told, black and white and asian and latino, for the most part want to interact, but the parents who were socialized into believing that whites are better than blacks etc. are pressuring their children to act that way.

Campfyah said...

Man I only thought that we black people did ketching hell here in de US, but it seems like we brothers/sisters up North doing so too. I had to ask the same question the other day, why is it always the white authorities accusing the blacks, have we ever seen a black policeman accuse a white person of invading an affluent black neighborhood? or a black police pull over a car from DWW (Driving while white)

Empath said...

That Police Chief got real belly boy. He playing wrong and strong.

Will said...

ditto empath...

Abeni said...

Some things never change eh. No srprise that the police chief is defending though. It comes with the job:)

random8 said...

All along we now know that Sgt Crowley went back and lied on his report. Bottom Line! The lady mentioned no race of people and why was it in the report. I would not accept anything other than the truth from this officer and on National-Wide TV he said he would not extend no apologies. So the Cambridge Police Department has earned itself a new name; "Mud" because this officer actually was support by the police department before actually finding out the truth and yet, stood by and watch the officer lie on people. There is no way out of this because the 911 calls verify that the lady used no race and yet, it is in the police report.

Stunner said...

It's a shame, it seems things will never change where racism is concerned in this world.

Dao of Photography said...

Very well written Jdid. It is such a pity that we can't seem to move past this issue. I do not understand how white men in positions of power continually demonstrate blatantly racist behavior and yet maintain their positions. Further, you can correct me if I am wrong, but Toronto is a pretty diverse city and if this takes place there can you imagine what happens in those cities and towns where the minority populations are much smaller? Good lord it is 2009.

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