Why Some People Say The Peel Police Diversity & Inclusion Committee Is Not Enough To Address Anti-Black Racism

Contrary to the wishes of many Mississauga and Brampton residents to create an advisory panel against black racism, the Peel Police Services Board (PPSB) has decided to move forward with a diversity and inclusion (D&I) committee.

Members voted to move forward with the overall organization, which will have a subcommittee dedicated to the black community, at the October meeting. following calls more than six months ago local activist David Bosveld and others to create the panel.

In his latest delegation to the same meeting, Bosveld said a specific panel is needed because of “the disparate results, interactions, violence, criminalization, policing, and systemic issues of racism against blacks” experienced and documented in recent reports and findings of the force.

Board members came and went on the pros and cons of a general committee or specific panel, and the most recent member, Martin Medeiros, listed a downside: Other racialized communities may want their own panel, too.

“Realistically, we can’t have four or five or six or seven boards; technically, it is not correct, “he said at the meeting, adding that choosing which groups have their own panels is like” picking winners and losers. “

the original recommendation to the D&I committee said the panel would not fill any voids due to anti-racism work done throughout the region.

In August, the board decided to defer its decision on the implementation of the specific panel, requesting more information on how the D&I committee would operate and general descriptions of similar operations in other forces.

CEO Rob Serpe delivered areport two months later It said the committee would “provide its advice and recommendations to the board” on issues and policies “related to racism, fairness, diversity and inclusiveness in the system, as well as issues related to racism against blacks.”

But as Dr. Tope Adefarakan, an expert on equity, diversity and inclusion explains, a D&I committee (even with a subcommittee) is not enough to address specific issues of racism against blacks in the police arena.

To understand why, the relationship between the police and black communities must be analyzed historically.

“If you think about the history of the police, it is about patrols that catch Africans who were enslaved,” he said.

Add to that the many racist stereotypes and tropes applied to black individuals that involve law enforcement, and this leads to a historic legacy that impacts a community.

“Black communities are seen as inherently criminal. That ideology is deeply embedded in policing itself, ”Adefarakan said.

She argues that those views apply only to black communities, and says that “crime or violence do not bind other communities in the same way.”

This can be seen in countless reports on police activity, including a recent study in Peel that showed black people were 3.5 times more likely to be forcibly attacked by the police than any other race.

“Blacks are seen as the most threatening, the most dangerous, the most criminal, hence the overrepresentation,” he said.

The report alone should be enough for members to implement the panel as it echoes the same message that black residents have been talking about for years, Adefarakan said.

A panel could also discuss solutions or make recommendations directly related to the report and work on other areas of policing that are often overlooked, such as the impact on Black women, children, and LGBTQI + members.

But perhaps more current is what Adefarakan says are the “beginnings of a change” among the general public in understanding the experiences of blacks with the police, following the murder of George Floyd.

“People in the black community have been talking about police brutality for a long time,” which has only recently leaked to the general population, he said.

Anu Radha Verma, who made a delegation to the August board meeting, said that the creation of a general panel completely misinterprets Bosveld’s multiple requests and the “broader demands” of groups and individuals in Peel.

“The case is already established in the data that we really need to talk about how to address racism against blacks. One thing we know, as a non-black person from South Asia, is that when we can address anti-black racism within our community in Peel, it benefits everyone, and that should be justification enough, ”he said.

He also noted that there are no black members on the board, and none of the current members have any skills or experience to address anti-black racism, gaps that the specific panel could fill.

Also at the board meeting was Dr. Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, a professor at the University of Toronto, who, when asked for his opinion on forming a general committee, said that “when the problems faced by black people subsumed under diversity, which includes orientation, religion, race and ethnicity, which are different, those concerns are often lost. “

Despite these multiple delegations, lengthy discussions and expert opinions, no such panel will be created, and Bosveld said his request and other concerns from the black community have been ignored.

“The surveillance issues facing black communities are very specific and worrying and must be addressed as such. I don’t understand how that can’t be obvious, ”he said.

STORY BEHIND THE STORY: For more than six months, many Peel residents and experts have shared their thoughts on why a panel against black racism is needed at the Peel Police Service Board. We wanted to see why those residents and experts believe that the police recommendation of a general inclusion panel is not enough.


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