View Full Version : Stop Black Youth At Random, Toronto City Councillor Suggests

Aug 19th, 2005, 10:58 PM

T.O. councillor defends plan to curb gun violence


http://images.ctv.ca/archives/CTVNews/img2/20050817/160_michael_thompson_050817.jpg Toronto City Councillor Michael Thompson appears Wednesday on Canada AM.

http://images.ctv.ca/archives/CTVNews/img2/20050816/160_pam_oconnell_050816.jpg Toronto Police Services Chair Pam O'Connell says 'He's stirred up a huge amount of racism.'

http://images.ctv.ca/archives/CTVNews/img2/20050816/160_clifford_mann_050816.jpg Nashville, Tenn. policeman Clifford Mann says his city would never, 'for one second,' tolerate a remark such as the one uttered by Thompson.

A Toronto city councillor is defending his controversial proposal to stop the recent plague of gun violence in the city.

Councillor Michael Thompson says that police should be allowed to "target" young black men at random as part of a crackdown on guns. And he points out that, as a black man, he himself could be stopped under his own plan.

Thompson says a large percentage of the guns being used and a large number of victims are in the black community; and that's where police need to focus.

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair immediately rejected Thompson's suggestion, saying the idea is inappropriate and "will not be the practice of our service."

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty joined the chorus of politicians criticizing the proposal.

"I don't understand that approach and I'm glad that it's been rejected by police and the mayor," McGuinty said in Toronto on Wednesday.

"I don't think it's sound public policy."

And Toronto Police Services Chair Pam McConnell told CTV Toronto's Alicia Kay Markson that Thompson has "stirred up a huge amount of racism."

"Scaring all of our black youth is not about getting at the thugs. It's about racial profiling. It's very stupid of him to do that and I think he needs to apologize to the community immediately."

But Thompson says he's never asked for racial profiling.

"That has never been what I discussed," he told CTV Toronto. "What I had said is that we ought to basically provide support to the police that are out in the community trying to apprehend young men with guns."

Thompson added he's not calling for police to pull people over just because they're black, but because gun violence is affecting the black community.

The councillor told Canada AM Wednesday that reaction that his office has received via emails and phone calls has been mostly positive.

"And if people are opposed to the idea, then bring forward other suggestions and other ideas that could help," he suggests.

"The interesting thing is there are some positive ideas coming forward. I mean, people are now talking about the problem from a perspective of wanting to actually get to the root of the problem."

"What I'm trying to create is a situation where we have dialogue, where people are bringing forward ideas and options in terms of how to solve the problem."

Black police officers attending the National Black Police association's 33rd conference in Toronto called Thompson's plan a violation of human rights.

"You cannot stop every black person on the road and call them a criminal," police officer Wendell Hendry from Kent, U.K., told CTV Toronto. "What he's doing is calling every young black male a criminal."

Nashville, Tenn. policeman Clifford Mann said his city would never, "for one second," tolerate a remark such as the one uttered by Thompson.

Speaking at the conference, Toronto police Insp. David McLeod defended the councillor.

"I know he's referred to as an idiot, and I'll tell you right out, in his defence, he's not an idiot. He's a very bright man," McLeod told the officers. "(He made) an ill-advised, ill-conceived and perhaps an idiotic comment, but he's not an idiot."

There have been 30 gun-related deaths in Toronto out of the 44 murders in the city so far in 2005.

In a new effort to reduce violence in the city, Blair announced Monday that he's reassigning 100 officers to uniform duty. They will join street patrol officers and provide a bridge until 96 recruits graduate from police college next month.

Blair redeployed 50 officers to a problem area in the northwest section of the city earlier this month.

Meanwhile, in response to the recent spate of gun violence, Toronto's Phoenix Concert Theatre announced that it would be cancelling its hip-hop night on Sundays.

The club has been the scene of three fatal shootings over the past two weekends.

National Defence Minister Bill Graham applauded the decision by management at the club, which is in his riding, but added that the city needs a broader solution.

Speaking at the launch of a health-care project for Toronto Centre-Rosedale riding residents, Graham said more effort needs to be put into preventing troubled youth from turning to violence.

Source: http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/1124230476900_119639676/?hub=TopStories (with audio television appearance by the councillor on the video column on the right of the page)

Aug 19th, 2005, 11:00 PM
Stop black youths at random, Toronto councillor suggests

Toronto — A Toronto city councillor is floating a controversial idea on curbing gun violence in the city.

Michael Thompson says police should be allowed to “target” young black men at random as part of a crackdown on guns.

Mr. Thompson, who is black, said a large percentage of the guns being used and a large number of people being killed are in the black community, so there is a need to target people in the community.

He said he is not calling for police to pull people over just because they are black but because gun violence is affecting the black community.

Deputy police chief Keith Forde, who is also black, says chief Bill Blair would “never, ever agree to that.”

There have been 30 gun-related deaths in Toronto among the 44 homicides in the city so far this year.

In a new effort to reduce violence in the city, Mr. Blair announced Monday that he is reassigning 100 desk officers to uniform duty.

They will join street patrol officers and provide a bridge until 96 recruits graduate from police college next month.

Mr. Blair redeployed 50 officers to a problem area in the northwestern part of the city earlier this month.

Source: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20050816.wtoro0816/BNStory/National/

Aug 19th, 2005, 11:05 PM
....a scathing editorial from a well known black columnist in a Toronto daily.....
A repugnant, divisive suggestion

ROYSON JAMES (http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Render&c=Page&cid=968350130169&ce=Columnist&colid=969907623600)

If Toronto city Councillor Michael Thompson is trying to make a name for himself, he certainly has. Around city hall yesterday, the rookie politician was being called Uncle Tomson.
When it comes to name-calling, that's as offensive as it gets for a black man. And yet, this black man has brought it on himself.
By advocating that police target and stop young black men in neighbourhoods plagued by gun violence, and search them for guns, the rookie councillor has made an ass of himself.
"It's offensive, rude," said criminal lawyer Aston Hall, reacting at a conference of black law enforcement officers. "Whoever thought of that is a complete idiot."
Complete or not, Thompson wasn't backing down yesterday.
"I'm fed up with the violence that's taking place," he said. "We need a drastic hammer on the situation. Is it offensive to some? Absolutely.... As a black city councillor, it's for me to speak out."
As a black city councillor, he should know better. He acts as if he's oblivious to the history and the current scholarship on this issue. In grasping at the illusive solution to the escalating gun violence, disproportionately affecting black residents, Thompson embraces a disastrously foolish option: a fishing expedition called racial profiling that's illegal, repugnant and already a cause of the uneasy black community-police relations.
"In a crisis, we have to respond in a crisis way," he says.
Desperate times demand desperate measures. But this? Now? Because there are 30-plus gun murders in Toronto this year?
London, England, is on terror alert and the suspects are Arab-looking men. But despite bombs going off in subways, they haven't gone to the extreme of stopping all Arab men entering the subway to check their bags for bombs. They haven't ventured into mosques, randomly, to round up potentially disaffected young Muslims.
Chicago has more than 10 times the number of gun murders that Toronto has, with the same pathology, and there's been no calls for this dastardly government-sanctioned action.
So what possessed the politician to succumb to such a volatile, provocative, divisive, discredited, scurrilous and totally unworkable solution to a difficult problem?
"I'm at a loss," he admits. "Am I trying to shake things up? Yes." And he's just seeking out "creative" and "innovative" solutions.
This is neither. It's a blunt instrument that will lead to collateral damage, including incendiary deterioration of race relations.
Do what Thompson says and two or three things happen, none of them good, none of them resulting in the mass gun seizures he envisions.
There'd be a legal challenge to the abrogation of the civil rights of black citizens. After all, even South Africa abandoned apartheid.
There'd be aggressive confrontations, resulting in innocent citizens dying at the hands of police. And relations between the police and blacks would so deteriorate we'd yearn for a return to where we are today.
In fact, the widely held belief among black residents that police have stopped them, continue to stop them, and will stop and harass them "for no good reason" is the main reason black citizens don't co-operate more with the police in solving crimes.
So isn't Thompson concerned that the collateral damage of his proposal will be mass disaffection among blacks, a feeding of the stereotype that black men are violent and dangerous, and propagation of a policing practice already decried as pernicious and discriminatory?
"It's an unfortunate problem," he stammers. "I haven't worked that through. I know it's volatile; a risk."
And why stop at blacks and gun crime? Why not target the consumers of the drugs that fuel the violence? Why not travel to the upscale homes with BMWs and Mercedes and do the random searches for drugs?
"Absolutely, I'd do that," Thompson says.
He says the crackdown would be only for a "limited time ... a couple of months."
You mean, after two months and the recovery of 100,000 guns you call off the program? He hadn't considered that.
And what about all the illegal guns owned by non-blacks and the illegal smuggling being done, even by snowbirds who the mayor says smuggle handguns as they return from wintering in Florida? Any solutions for them?
"If there were other groups doing this (settling their gang scores in public with gunshots), I'd call them out as well," Thompson says.
Thompson has been an energetic law-and-order councillor, advocating for measures to end the violence in neighbourhoods. He's challenged the mayor to act resolutely and quickly to change the landscape of crime and despair.
Now, he'll be the poster boy for the right-wing, tough-on-crime, stop-Jamaican-immigration, sterilize-young-black-women, castrate-black-men brigade.
And for everyone else seeking peaceful, progressive and long-lasting solutions to the problem, the man has lost all credibility.


Aug 19th, 2005, 11:06 PM
That guy is a complete fucking moron.