Desmond Cole offers advice to Mayor Kennedy Stewart on how to reduce discriminatory policing

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      A Toronto journalist and civil-rights activist says he's "so grateful" for the care and support he's received from people of African and Indigenous ancestry in Vancouver following an encounter with local police.

      Writing on his Facebook page, Desmond Cole also stated that he received a call from Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart about the incident last week near Stanley Park.

      "Khalid Boudreau of Black Lives Matter Vancouver joined me on the mayor’s call, and we asked him to end the practice of carding," Cole wrote. "We even gave concrete steps to end the practice: a requirement that police tell people our rights when we are stopped; the destruction of non-criminal records the police have been collecting; the issuing of a carbon receipt in the extremely rare cases that police need to collect our information during a non-criminal interaction." 

      As mayor, Stewart chairs the Vancouver police board and is in a position to bring motions before the board to follow through on Cole's suggestions.

      This call came after police officer stopped Cole while he was walking on the sidewalk smoking a cigarette.

      Cole was in Vancouver at the invitation of the B.C. office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

      The officer claimed that Cole was smoking in a public park, which is a bylaw offence, but Cole insisted he was never in a park.

      "The cop told me I had to give him my name or show him ID," Cole wrote. "When I refused, he detained me for 15 minutes, and repeatedly threatened to handcuff me and arrest me for obstruction of justice if I didn’t identify myself."

      Cole added that when the officer realized that he knew a lot about the law and carding, "he got nervous about carrying out his threats."

      Cole also declared in his post that the media focused on him, "as if the centuries-old police brutality against Indigenous and Black peoples is new or misunderstood".

      "We will not bend to people who trivialize our reality," he stated. "This is not a debate."

      Earlier this year, the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association filed a complant with the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner about police street checks.

      The two groups presented data showing that over a 10-year period, 15 percent of these street checks involved Indigenous people. They make up about two percent of Vancouver's population.

      About four percent of street checks over the same period involved people of African ancestry. They make up less than one percent of Vancouver's population.