Excessive Use of Force on Black and Racialized Communities by Police is Unacceptable.
On June 15th, 2022 the Toronto Police Service Chief of Police offered an apology to the Black community in Toronto after a report detailing the disproportionate use of Police force on the Black community and other racialized communities. Members of the Black community in Toronto “have not asked the police for anything, including an apology, instead we continue to demand political change that eliminates the need for the next apology” said No Pride In Policing Coalition. The Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion and the Hamilton Anti-Racism Resource Centre echo these sentiments.
Here in Hamilton, the Hamilton Police Services (HPS) is not different. In 2021, HPS released its use of force data. HCCI analyzed the data and found out that there were 446 residents who interacted with Police officers. 18% were from the Black community and 14% from multiple racialized communities. In the data provided by Police the collection of race-based data was lackluster and prior to the collection the Hamilton Police Services Board were reluctant to collect such data.
The Use of Force data from 2020 were analyzed by Dr. Ameil Joseph and Maddie Broadbank. Their analysis showed that roughly 38% of UOF incidents involving people included at least 1 racialized person. Despite making up about 19% of Hamilton’s population. Similarly, roughly 36% of all individual mentions of race (including duplications) in the use of force incident data were racialized people. Of data relating to racialized persons’ experiences of UOF, Black individuals were overrepresented; they made up 21% of all individual mentions of race and were represented in 24% of all incidents documented. Other than white individuals, Black individuals were most likely to be labeled as some form of “resistant” in descriptions of subject behaviour. Indigenous peoples were disproportionately represented in UOF incidents involving a person in crisis; a fifth of individual mentions of ‘Indigenous’ were ascribed to crisis situations. Most UOF data involving Indigenous peoples were related to behaviour; particularly, ‘person in crisis,’ ‘trespassing,’ and ‘disturbances’ made up nearly half of their occurrence types.
In 2020, HCCI sent a detailed letter to members of Council and Members of Provincial Parliament highlighting systemic racism in policing and a lack of police accountability in the Province. Since then many elected leaders continue to dispute the very fact that systemic racism exists in Police institutions. These issues of systemic racism have been reviewed on the provincial level and recommendations from these reviews are yet to be implemented. Many of the recommendations are directed to Police Boards, Police Services and the Province (changes to the Police Act). However, most, if not all, have not been implemented.
We are calling on the Hamilton Police Services Board to start a systemic process of police accountability and oversight in consultation with communities that Police institutions and Police officers constantly harm. Consequently, we are calling on the Provincial government to change the Police Act to allow for more police accountability and community oversight. Finally, investing public funds into communities and community organizations that keep Black, Indigenous, and Racialized communities safe is essential.
Kojo Damptey - Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion
Lyndon George - Hamilton Anti-Racism Resource Centre
“The data Toronto police released is not new information; Black and racialized communities have been saying this for years. It’s why many in the Black community have fought to ensure the data is collected, so chiefs of police and elected leaders can no longer continue to hide from accountability.” “Whether it's Toronto or Hamilton, the data remains the same; if you are Black, police disproportionately use force. It’s not enough to simply release the data and apologize; we need it to stop.”
Lyndon George, Executive Director of The Hamilton Anti-Racism Resource Centre.
“Indigenous, Black, and Racialized communities have repeatedly said that Police institutions cause harm to our respective communities. In Hamilton, our municipal Council refuses to acknowledge this even when we see the data, video and results from carding to excessive use of force. We are calling for immediate police oversight and accountability informed by the communities impacted most by Police harm.
Kojo Damptey, Executive Director - Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion