VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – After Toronto activist Desmond Cole claims he was “carded” by a Vancouver Police officer last week, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart says he is planning to address concerns around the practice of random police checks in Vancouver.
Stewart recently spoke with Cole and a representative of Black Lives Matter Vancouver on the phone after Cole says he was stopped by police last week for no reason and asked for identification. A disproportionate number of people stopped by random police checks — known as “carding” — are minorities.
Now Stewart says carding in Vancouver needs to be addressed, but first, he has to be sworn in as the head of the police board and find out more about the issue in Vancouver before he can take any action.
“This is something that I will be working on in the coming weeks, and look forward to getting back after being official sworn in as the head of the police board, as well as having good discussions with the police themselves about how they’re approaching this matter,” he says. “I have had some discussions with Chief Palmer, but I really want to start those relationships off on a good foot, so I have to wait until I’m officially on those bodies before I do anything formal.”
He said it’s important to him, as mayor “that I looked at this with a balanced approach.”
WATCH: Desmond Cole accuses the VPD of ‘carding’
For now, he says that will mean understanding the issue better, and speaking with others like the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.
“For me, it’s always collect information first, hear from people and their concerns before I would go back to council with specific recommendations or the police board. I do also want to come up to speed about what the police are already doing,” he says. “This is for my information at this point to make sure I am fully up to speed on these issues.”
Recommendations to stop carding
In a Facebook post Friday, Cole said he spoke with the mayor about what council can do to stop the practice.
“I thanked mayor Stewart for reaching out, but I also emphasized that his concern, and the focus of Vancouver city council, must shift from my incident to the routine problem of racist policing in Vancouver,” Cole writes on Facebook.
He goes on to list some recommendations to stop the practice, including: requiring police to inform citizens of rights when stopped, destroying non-criminal records collected by police, and issuing a carbon receipt if information is collected in a non-criminal interaction.
Black and Indigenous people make up a higher proportion of carding stops. Vancouver Police data for 2017 showed that black people made up 5 per cent of street checks, although they are only 1 per cent of the population. Indigenous people made up 16 per cent of random street checks, although they are only 2 per cent of Vancouver’s population.
Cole said he was stopped by an officer when he was smoking on a sidewalk next to Stanley Park. He said the officer told him he was violating a bylaw to not smoke inside a public park.
Yesterday afternoon I got a call from Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart—the mayor expressed his regret about my recent…
– With files from Sasha Lakic