TORONTO (680 NEWS) — The City of Toronto has launched an investigation into allegations of anti-Black racism against a bylaw officer at a park in Etobicoke that Mayor John Tory called “disturbing.”
The woman in the video, Deborah, tells CityNews she and her friend Eva were confronted by a bylaw officer who told them they had been trespassing on the field at Centennial Park and allegedly said, “If this were my home, I would be licensed to shoot you.”
The video reportedly begins shortly after the initial encounter.
Deborah said they arrived at Centennial Park to workout in the morning when they noticed the gate to the field was open and people were playing on the field.
Shortly after, the two women said a pair of teenagers, who were the only ones still on the field with them, noticed there was a bylaw officer at the park and told them they should probably all leave.
Deborah said he asked them if they knew they were trespassing and allegedly said “if this were my home, I would be licensed to shoot you both.”
She says the officer proceeded to ask both women for their identifications. Deborah said they refused to provide ID because they felt the officer was being rude.
“If you are going to give us a ticket, give us a ticket. I’m not going to sit here and say we were innocent, because if you trespass, you trespass and not going but you don’t have to speak to anyone like that,” said Deborah.
Deborah said she reacted in the video because “he started to deny everything that he said.”
In the video, the bylaw officer said he also asked the teenagers for identification, but both said he had not asked them for ID. He also denies in the video, making the statement about “I would be licensed to shoot you both.”
“It’s disgusting, the behaviour, justice needs to be served here,” said Deborah.
Mayor John Tory tweeted Tuesday evening an investigation is underway by municipal licensing officials with assistance from the city’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism Unit.
The Toronto Police Services Board will be taking action this week to confront anti-Black racism. Please read my full statement here: pic.twitter.com/O5g4SC6Qwc
— John Tory (@JohnTory) June 17, 2020
He added, “The allegations made were extremely disturbing and no bylaw officer should ever threaten or even suggest violence.”
“While we await the results of this investigation, I want to be clear that as Mayor I will not tolerate any City of Toronto employees engaging in behaviour that threatens residents or demonstrates anti-Black racism,” read the tweet from Tory.
Watch the full exchange:
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