We’re stopping you because you’re not White…

courtesy Antoine Rouleau

courtesy Antoine Rouleau

by Allan

One of my many experiences with the Metro Toronto Police that happened this past March 2008. I seriously hope this doesn’t happen to you because it wasn’t a cool experience at all and forever changed my view of law enforcement officials ANYWHERE in the world.

Typical Thursday night I’m with two of my very good friends just chilling out, watching the basketball game(s), car shows, playing pool, dominoes, and just unwinding by sometimes having a casual drink and shooting the shit of our personal lives. Conversations can either can get real serious or can get in a joking manner (mainly the latter). The last part of the night is the part we all head to downtown Toronto to have our usual late night meal. Unfortunately, the past Thursday was one of the experiences that I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.

"Police brutality" courtesy of Quinn Dombrowski

"Police brutality" courtesy of Quinn Dombrowski

We were at my old campus, Ryerson University and in that area there’s this shwarma/middle eastern place we eat at. Just before parking my vehicle legally, I see a police cruiser tailing my car just like one of these wannabe racer assholes I see everytime I drive in Scarborough. To avert possible traffic problems, I parked my vehicle legally and then the lights of the police cruiser went off. My initial reaction was feeling confused. I never did anything wrong that night. I only had a sip of a drink that contained alcohol, but it wasn’t to the point that I was drunk. Calmly, I awaited the officer to explain why he stopped us and as such, what happened next was unbelievable and quite frankly really sad.

Apparently, the reason I was stopped was because one of my friends didn’t have his seatbelt on in the backseat. I’m thinking to myself of how stupid the reasoning was until I saw what my friends were wearing. I dressed normally; it was actually quite pleasant that late evening so I had on a zip sweater and jeans with my Ryerson keychain. I looked like a typical student. But what my friends were wearing explained perfectly the logic of the police officers stopping us. Both friends had baggy clothing, fitted baseball hats, hoodie jackets with fur on them. One of my friends wore a baggy, black and dark grey checkered Dickies sweater popular among youth gang members in California. Persistently, the police officers questioned us and quite honestly harassed us about alcohol. Where was the alcohol, they asked. What really irked me was the fact that they questioned my friends about their alcohol consumption and what I was thinking was even if both of my friends were drunk, why would they harass them? Isn’t it good that I’m acting as a designated driver I told them. So, the police went on and continued their unsuccesful search for alcohol in my vehicle. They had the nerve to state that a water bottle my friend was drinking contained alcohol. The scene came to a sad climax when I was asked to blow into a breathalyzer which stated that there was 0.0 miligrams of alcohol in my system. During the process, I was constantly harassed about where the alcohol was, why was I drinking, & why are my friends drinking. The police were trying to get me to rat on my friends & even if they were drunk, it was really pointless and stupid because I WAS THE DESIGNATED DRIVER!

From a distance you could assume that both of my good friends I was with on Thursday night are Black, but they aren’t. One is Filipino, although he looks Hispanic/Black and the other East Indian, although he looks Black. It’s too bad the officers assumed otherwise, they assumed the worst of my friends, even assuming that I was driving drunk. I don’t know how the Toronto police operates, but I seriously I hope that I’m not naive to not assume that the Toronto police service operates on a quota system.

This past experience I really hope doesn’t happen to you because of the amount of stupidity and of its insignificant nature. I was left dumbfounded, confused, but not surprised. In total there were three police cars with about eight cops altogether because apparently the first police car required backup because those cops had a suspicion that we were armed and dangerous, yet all we were doing was going to eat shwarmas!

All the officers we encountered that night were Caucasian and sounded as if they didn’t grow up in Toronto. They had their already negative assumptions and from the feelings of that night, it looked like they were prepared to do something with their fireamrs that are supposed to protect me, the law abiding, tax paying citizen.

Thanks for protecting me. NOT! Stupid pigs! It could have cost me my life and would have been another Filipino dying unjustly.

Remember Jeffrey Reodica? It’s a sad state of affairs to see when eight to ten Caucasian Police Officers stop three non-Caucasian males because apparently “one of my friends didn’t have his seatbelt on in the backseat”. On that logic alone, I felt absolutely confused & wondering what exactly did we do wrong? Many negative generalizations that I had heard over the years about the Police were coming unfortunately coming true. Questions arised that night like, “Are the majority of the Caucasian police in the Metro Toronto Police all the same way?” All the Caucasian Officers we encountered that night were screaming at us, making negative assumptions, telling us details about another incident that happened just recently & the vague description of the suspects? Three black males with hand guns.

So yeah, it was a really crazy night. Everyone has their different perspectives of the Police. What do you think of the Police? Are you a believer that they truly “serve & protect?” Or do the police constitute people in Authority who abuse their powers & as such are perceived to be racist & are prone to brutality?

R.I.P Jeffrey Reodica. You didn’t deserve what happened to you………

~ by allanserrano81 on August 16, 2008.

2 Responses to “We’re stopping you because you’re not White…”

  1. hey allan

    i think this is a really scratching the surface analysis, but here’s my take… I think police go into the force for the right reasons with the right socialization and politics, but then its the high-stress, pressure-cooker moments that make the real motivations come to the forefront.

    Police are just like most Canadians… up front we’re all culturally sensitive, accepting compassionate and inclusive — but deep down in each of our heart of darkness, we all have racist tendencies.

    It just sucks that Police are supposed to really be totally non-discriminatory and see the world fairly… because this isn’t the case with human beings.

    (In short, we need Robocop!)

  2. That’s bullshit – what happened!
    Next time the cops give you static for being coloured, ask for their names and badge numbers. Write that shit down, then file a formal report on the Toronto Police Services website. They will contact you a couple of weeks later to get the full story, and tell you that you can drop the complaint, file a formal record of complaint, or pursue your complaint through the Police Services Act. If you can remember the details, and remember how it felt to be harrassed because of the colour of your skin, then I’d recommend the last option.
    Also, you can contact the Toronto Star, who seems to care abour racial profiling.
    Finally, you can now bring your complaint directly to the Human Rights Tribunal.
    If you or anyone has questions about doing the legal stuff, email me at paradoxifl@yahoo.com

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