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Citizens’ group calls for end to Toronto police carding

WATCH ABOVE: A group of predominant Torontonians call for an end to police carding

TORONTO – Prominent Canadians and Toronto citizens are calling for an end to the controversial Toronto police practice of carding.

Former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations and Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis, former Toronto mayor Barbara Hall and former Chief Justice of Ontario Roy McMurtry are just a few to lend their voices against the police policy that stops people without a warrant and records their information.

A group called “Concerned Citizens to End Carding” aired their concerns during a press conference at city hall Wednesday morning.

“This is a moment that this city comes together and says, ‘Starting now, carding is stopped forever,'” said Gordon Cressy, former President of the United Way.

“What drove us to action was a feeling that this one was being fought only by the black community and that is wrong.”

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A joint statement co-signed by more than 35 prominent Torontonians in opposition to carding was also presented.

“Carding has led many in our city to distrust and disrespect our police,” the statement said.

“We are offended by the notion of casually and routinely stopping citizens, outside of police investigations of actual criminal acts that have occurred, to question and record, and then store personal data in police files.”

READ MORE: Chief Saunders vows to remove ‘random’ from profiling and carding practices

The group believes carding violates the human rights of citizens and goes against the principles of Canada’s Charter Rights.

“We cannot allow an environment of anger and distrust of our police to exist and fester in our city, particularly among the African Canadian and other racial minority communities.”

New Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders has publicly said he will not abolish the practice of carding but has vowed to make sure rules and regulations are followed by officers using the measure.

READ MORE: Bill Blair backs legalization of marijuana, defends carding as he seeks Liberal seat

The carding practices were implemented by former police chief Bill Blair before he ended his term in April and said recently in an interview with Global’s The Morning Show that it is a vital policing tool, which used in the proper way, is an effective crime fighting tool.

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“It’s the strongest document in support of the Canadian Charter of Rights and the Human Rights Code, people’s privacy interest of any policing policy anywhere in the country, and most people complaining about it haven’t read it,” said Blair.

“It’s a legitimate, legal, necessary appropriate action, but only if it’s done right.”

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