It’s profiling, tribunal rules

Ron Phipps admits he was criss-crossing Vernham Avenue that fateful day in the Bridle Path.

Ron Phipps admits he was criss-crossing Vernham Avenue that fateful day in the Bridle Path.

He was also wearing a Canada Post coat and carrying two mailbags. He was filling in for the regular letter carrier. “It’s not like this was an after-hours party,” Phipps said yesterday with a wry laugh as he sat in his tidy dining room in a Thornhill cul-de-sac.

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has ruled by stopping Phipps, questioning him, trailing him and asking a white letter carrier to verify his identity, Toronto Police Const. Michael Shaw was guilty of racial profiling.

The fact that Phipps “was an African Canadian in an affluent neighbourhood was a factor, a significant factor, and probably the predominant factor, whether consciously or unconsciously, in Const. Shaw’s actions,” adjudicator Kaye Joachim wrote in his decision last month.

At the hearing, Shaw contended each of Phipps’ actions was suspicious, despite his uniform. Joachim batted each one down.

Shaw had been training Diane Noto, a new police constable, the day Phipps was filling in for the regular carrier on the Bridle Path route. The officers, investigating cut phone lines, were looking for suspects described as male, white and eastern European who were in a car.

“The fact that it was an African Canadian male without a vehicle that attracted Const. Shaw’s attention is what is unusual,” wrote Joachim.

The constable is on “prolonged leave” from 33 Division, police said yesterday.

 
 
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