A meeting of the Toronto Police Services board was abruptly adjourned on Thursday afternoon after an anti-carding activist refused to step down unless board members agreed to destroy historic carding data.
Desmond Cole stood up during the meeting and refused to step aside until the carding issue was dealt with. The meeting was then adjourned about 20 minutes later, despite there being a number deputants left to speak and a number of motions left on the agenda.
“Today I told the police services board that carding is a practice that has stolen information from our communities,” Cole told CP24 following the meeting. “What this board is proposing to do is to move forward but not do anything about that stolen information. My opinion and the opinion of many people in our community and across the city is that police should not have any more access to the information they stole from us.”
Cole’s protest came during a discussion on the effectiveness of a provincial outreach campaign meant to inform the public about a new Ontario-wide carding policy.
Speaking with reporters after the meeting was adjourned, Cole said he feels his message was delivered “loud and clear.”
Cole then vowed to continue push for the destruction of carding data, though he refused to say whether he would disrupt future TPS board meetings.
“Until my community gets justice, f*** the rules of procedure,” he said.
TPS passed new carding policy in November
In November, the TPS board approved a new policy aimed at placing strict regulations around the so-called practice of “carding.”
The policy prohibits officers from collecting information from individuals if “the attempted collection is done in an arbitrary way.” The policy also prohibits offices from collecting information from individuals because they are a member of a “particular racialized group.”
At the time the policy was passed, Mayor John Tory and others said it would effectively mean the end of carding as we know it; however many activists took issue with the retention of historic carding data, including Cole.
“Our dates of birth, our names, our descriptions, places that we hang out. If we are not being charged of a crime or suspected of a crime that is none of the police’s business,” Cole said on Wednesday. “Without at least destroying all the information from us that you stole, we can never turn the page as a community.”
Though the new carding police does allow for historic data to be retained it restricts access to it and Saunders has said that there will be a “very high watermark” with regards to when it can be used.
Speaking with CP24 following the meeting, Tory said the TPS board has taken “significant” steps on carding and has put in “safeguards” to ensure historic data collected through the practice isn’t misused.
“The notion that we haven’t dealt with the issue is wrong. We have made dramatic and significant changes,” he said.
Tory said that he would be “quite willing” to listen to Cole if he believes the safeguards placed on historic carding data are inadequate but he said that little can be accomplished by “shutting a meeting down”
“He even excluded some other members of the public who might have shared his view from sharing that view,” he said.