Running while black: Vancouver police say no racial profiling in stopping man rushing to SkyTrain station

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      A man running on East Broadway was stopped by Vancouver police.

      A police department report recalls that the unnamed individual “seemed suspicious”.

      His face was covered by a bandana. He was also wearing a cap.

      “Only his eyes were visible,” the report stated.

      Moreover, he was carrying backpack on his front.

      The man is black.

      Was it a case of racial profiling?

      A female friend of the man believed it was.

      The woman, whose identity was redacted, filed a complaint.

      According to her, the man was late for work, and that’s why he was running toward a SkyTrain station.

      “He was hugging his backpack in the front as running with it on the back would cause too much movement up and down,” she related. “A police car drove in front of him and cut him off on the sidewalk.”

      “If this was a white, asian or any other nationality, this would not have happened,” the woman continued. “I am deeply troubled by this racial profiling....this assumption that he stole something because my friend's skin colour is black and running with a backpack.”

      “My friend happens to be one of the most hardworking people I know, working two jobs,” she wrote in her complaint.

      The Vancouver Police Department disagrees that it was a case of racial profiling.

      “The friend was stopped because the combination of running while wearing a face covering and baseball-style cap on a relatively warm and sunny day, which covered his entire face with only his eyes being visible, seemed suspicious,” Drazen Manojlovic, director of planning, research and audit section, wrote in a report to the Vancouver police board chaired by Mayor Kennedy Stewart.

      Manojlovic recommended the dismissal of the complaint. The board meets Thursday (June 13).

      “The stop was brief and cordial amongst the officers and the friend, each party explained their actions, and no information was recorded,” Manojlovic wrote.

      The author also stated that the man “did not seem disturbed by the interaction” with the police.

      According to Manojlovic, “race was not a motivation” for the man being stopped.

      “Providing police services that are free of bias is a priority for the VPD and, in 2018, the VPD provided training to members on Fair and Impartial Policing (FIP), which includes the concept of racial profiling,” Manojlovic wrote. “The VPD is satisfied that its processes and extensive training on cultural awareness and racial profiling reflect best practices."