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Teens decry carding by Toronto police

File photo. Lars Hagberg/Canadian Press

TORONTO — What started as a class project for two Grade 8 students at City View Alternative Senior School has turned into a major cause.

Initially inspired by a racist incident they witnessed involving a close friend, Sapphire Newman-Fogel and Meghan Sage-Wolf decided to look further into the issue of carding for a school assignment.

An interview they did with a man who has been carded multiple times made a lasting impression on the 13 year olds.

“Not just the numbers and statistics but how dehumanizing the act is,” said Sage-Wolf.

“I think right now the only solution is for it not to happen,” added Newman-Fogel.

They believe the practice is inherently racist, so have launched “Youth Against Carding”.

One of their first actions was to argue against carding at a police board meeting on the issue. Until the practice is abolished, they plan to host “know your rights” workshops for youth.

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READ MORE: Small majority disapprove of Toronto police carding: poll

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A lawyer with the African Canadian Legal Clinic explained that people don’t have to provide police with information if they are not involved in, or suspected of, a crime, or involved with something regulated, like driving or riding a bike.

However, Anthony Morgan cautioned that he also counsels clients to tread carefully when they assert their rights.

“Unfortunately we’ve seen situations where they have turned unnecessarily hostile and sometimes even violent when individuals have said I don’t have to speak to you, I haven’t done anything wrong,” said Morgan.

It took only a few minutes for Global News to find someone impacted by carding.

Michael Sylvester said in all the times he has been carded, he has never been given information on his rights by police.

“No, if you try to walk away, (police say) ‘Where you going smart ass? Where you going, buddy? Hey come back here, we’re not done talking,'” said Sylvester.

Newman-Fogel and Sage-Wolf said they realize people may wonder why “two, you know, white skinned, privileged girls” are tackling this. They said racism is something that has impacted their friends and family.

They also pointed out, while they started the initiative, they are not doing it alone. It will be alongside youth from all different backgrounds who have experienced carding.

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Morgan appreciates that momentum against carding is building from different groups across the city.

“Seeing the other voices, not just African Canadian, not just lawyers, but the community at large, including these young girls is great,” said Morgan.

Sage-Wolf said their goal is for everyone in the city to know that they have the right to walk away.

“Then it really takes the power away from carding.”

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