TORONTO – Crimebeat – The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has awarded Rawle Maynard $40,000 after the Toronto man was found to have been racially profiled by a Toronto Police Service officer. Mr. Maynard, who is Black, was driving home from his office in November 2005, when he was followed by an officer in a police car. The police officer had received a report of an incident involving a Black man with a gun, at the Malvern Town Centre. Mr. Maynard was later put, at gunpoint, in the back of a police car. Shortly thereafter, new information was received over the radio that indicated he was not a suspect.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission handled the original complaint and continued to be a party at the Tribunal. The African Canadian Legal Clinic represented the complainant. At the Tribunal, the OHRC sought both individual and public interest remedies including bringing the Tribunal’s decision, and the circumstances of this complaint, to the attention of the Toronto Police Service’s Charter project work to consider related policy changes.
In her decision, Human Rights Tribunal Vice-Chair Leslie Reaume said that Mr. Maynard had been “stereotyped as a person with some probability of being involved in a gun-related incident” because he was a young Black man:
“I do not believe that if the suspect had been a Caucasian man in the same circumstance, with no other defining characteristics, particularly age…[that the officer]… would have chosen to investigate the first Caucasian man he saw driving the same car at the same intersection. It is consistent with a finding of racial profiling that all black men, or all black men of a certain age, driving along in the area in a black car were possible suspects at the moment that Officer Baker decided to commence his investigation of Mr. Maynard”.
OHRC Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall was pleased with the decision. “This ruling recognizes the real and devastating impacts of racial profiling on a person. Racial discrimination and profiling continue to be huge barriers, especially for young Black men,” Ms. Hall says. “Times have changed since 2005; the Toronto Police Services have acknowledged that racial profiling must be dealt with. We have worked closely with the TPS and the Toronto Police Services Board on a Charter project to eliminate discrimination in services. But that work is not done.”
Last year, the OHRC released “Human Rights in Policing” a manual on organizational change for police services and boards. The OHRC is currently working with the Windsor Police Service on a similar Charter project. As a result of a recent settlement, it is also assisting the Ottawa Police Service to use data collection as a way to help provide bias-free police services.
“Preventing racial profiling and anti-Black racism continues to be a priority for the OHRC,” says Ms. Hall. “The Tribunal’s decision in Maynard highlights the need for greater awareness and more vigilance in these critical areas.”