In a motion described as being “a long time coming”, members of the Community and Protective Services committee unanimously endorsed a motion to push for the end of carding in London.
The motion calls for Mayor Matt Brown to publicly call on the London Police Services Board to permanently end the practice of street checks in London as well as to ensure ongoing anti-racism and anti-oppression training across the organization.
Carding is a practice whereby police officers record information about people, vehicles and properties though details like names, addresses, date of birth, races, and identifiable markings of community members. The interactions are voluntary, through critics argue that people may not know they have the right to decline to answer questions and that minorities are carded at a disproportionate rate.
Councillor Mo Salih has been publicly pushing for the end of carding since June 2015 after the provincial Liberals announced they were looking at changes to the controversial practice.
“I’ve been waiting for my rights for a long time on this front,” Councillor Salih announced at Tuesday’s meeting, “I’m glad to see that this is finally coming to council.”
— Mohamed Salih (@MohamedMOSalih) November 15, 2016
“I echo Councillor Salih’s comments without being able to feel exactly what he feels about it,” says Councillor Maureen Cassidy.
Mayor Matt Brown stressed that he would be more than happy to address the issue with police.
“I’m not okay with this practice. I’m not okay with any practice that doesn’t protect people’s rights. That’s why I spoke against this at the London Police Services Board last week.”
Councillor Jesse Helmer shared his support for the motion but warned that it may be a difficult battle.
“Certainly I believe we need to end the racist practice of carding – it’s going to take a lot of doing. It may not be easy to convince police that they need to stop this practice,” he explained.
“I’m not convinced it’s effective – forget the fact that’s it’s racist – I don’t know why we want to do it, what the value of stopping a whole bunch of innocent people is.”
Helmer added that when police are concerned about budgeting and claim that their resources are spread thing, carding is an obvious practice to cut but that police are defensive over claims of racism.
“It’s not that the individual police officers are racist people, it’s that their practice is racist,” says Councillor Jesse Helmer.
“And they don’t even realize it and in fact they get very defensive when you say this is a racist practice. I understand why that’s happening but these are the kinds of things we need to dismantle.”
The motion now heads to full council for approval.