OHRC fights to attend racial profiling case

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Toronto, March 4 (CINEWS): The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) under its new chief Renu Mandhane is fighting to inject itself into a disciplinary hearing against two Toronto police officers, arguing the case involves racial profiling. Needless to say, the move is being resisted.
The case is about police officers approached four black teenagers after they left their apartment building on Neptune Drive in Lawrence Heights on November 21, 2011. They were about to attend a tutoring session offered by Pathways to Education when they were stopped.
They were arrested at gunpoint and criminally charged, but were later found to have done nothing wrong.
The case came to light thanks to security video outside the housing complex where the teens lived.
One officer can be seen on the grainy video punching one of the teenagers and drawing his gun, while the second officer restrained the three other teens.
The OHRC says the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) found that charges of officer misconduct were warranted, adding that, according to the officers and the teens, the youths “were not misbehaving in any manner.”
The OIPRD also found that “the manner in which the youth were stopped and questioned … was a violation of their Charter of Rights.”
Mandhane explained why the OHRC wants to participate in the hearing.
“We’ve been working on racial profiling for over 10 years. We’ve been talking about the corrosive impact it’s had on the community and, in particular, the black community. People still think racial profiling means overt acts of racism, which it isn’t. It’s systemic in nature and we want to bring that perspective to this proceeding.”
But a lawyer for one of officers argued against human rights commission’s participation.
“If you decide to give them jurisdiction, they’re going to be showing up in every case where the complainant is a person of colour,” woman or LGBTQ, Lawrence Gridin told the hearing.
The disciplinary hearing for the two officers is scheduled for the fall.

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