The city of London is making Canadian history.
On Tuesday, London’s city council was the first in the country to unanimously vote in favour of insisting the city’s police end the practice of carding.
Mayor Matt Brown says he does not condone any practice that may be seen as racist, or infringe on someone’s rights. “It is time to call for a ban on carding here in London.”
However earlier that day, Police Chief John Pare held an impromptu press conference where he defended street checks. He says the practice is important for public safety.
Street checks, or “carding” is when a police officer approaches someone on the streets, and records personal information such as their name, race, and address. Critics argue that visible minorities are targeted at a disproportionate rate.
Councillor Mo Salih is a big advocate for the fight against carding, and says he’s had personal experiences with being carded.
“I’ve been that 14 year old boy who’s been stopped for no reason. I’ve been that 20 year old man who’s been stopped for now reason. I’ve been stopped 15 times, for no reason. They ask you for all your information in front of everyone, and everyone’s watching you, already making that you are guilty for something because the police are here today, and they’re stopping you.”
Salih had a message to share to minorities in London. “I don’t want any young black person, or any person who looks differently in our community to ever feel like because of the way they look, that they should feel as if they are doing something wrong.”
After Salih’s 7 minute personal speech, he was given a standing ovation from council, city staff, and the public who attended.
The vote is being considered more symbolic than anything else, since council doesn’t have jurisdiction over police. The final say on how London police treat carding lies with the chief.
Beginning January 1st, Ontario police will be mandated to tell any carded individual they aren’t required to answer any questions asked, and they will be given a receipt of the information police record.