Black people ‘disproportionately’ arrested, struck, shot by police, report finds

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TORONTO — Ontario’s human rights commission has found that Black people in Toronto are “disproportionately” arrested, charged and subjected to use of force by the city’s police force.

In a report released this morning, the commission finds that Black people are more likely to be “arrested, charged, over-charged, struck, shot or killed by Toronto police.”

The findings are part of the commission’s second interim report into anti-Black racial profiling and discrimination by the Toronto Police Service.

Titled “A Disparate Impact,” the report analyzed Toronto police data from 2013 to 2017.

It found that despite the fact Black people represent only about 8.8 per cent of the city’s population, they represented almost a third of all charges in the data.

University of Toronto criminology professor Scot Wortley, who led the analysis, says the findings warrant “significant reform.”

The commission launched its inquiry in November 2017, and released its first interim report the following year.

The first interim report found that between 2013 and 2017, a Black person in Toronto was 20 times more likely to be shot and killed by police than a white person.

In examining reports by the province’s police watchdog, the inquiry also found that officers sometimes lacked a legal basis for stopping or detaining Black people, searched them without justification and made unnecessary arrests and laid unnecessary charges.

“The Ontario Human Rights Commission’s findings … are disturbing and they demand an explanation,” then-chief commissioner Renu Mandhane said at the time. “At this interim stage, we are calling on the Toronto police to acknowledge the commission’s very serious human rights concerns.”

The force and the city’s police services board issued a joint statement saying they accepted recommendations contained in the report, and later began collecting race-based data at the commission’s request.

The Toronto Police Service is among many departments facing renewed scrutiny for their interactions with people of colour.

The police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May sparked protests and calls to defund police services in the United States, Canada and around the world. Floyd died as a police officer pressed a knee against his neck for nearly nine minutes.

In Toronto, protesters also pointed to the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year-old Black woman who fell to her death from a balcony while police were in her apartment. Critics have called for reform in how mental health calls are treated in the city.

Korchinski-Paquet’s family has said they wanted her to be taken to a mental health facility, while officers said they were responding to a call about a possible assault.

The Special Investigations Unit is probing the circumstances surrounding her death, and has said a report could come as early as this month.