A black journalist and activist from Toronto says he was “carded” by Vancouver police because of his race.
Carding is a practice where police ask for a person’s name and identification.
On Tuesday, Desmond Cole was walking on the sidewalk next to Marine Park Square in Vancouver’s Coal Harbour when a police officer stopped him for smoking in a park.
Cole says the officer then asked for his name and identification.
“When I told him I didn’t believe I was breaking any bylaw and that I wasn’t going to give him my name… he said… and this was very early on in our interaction, he said, ‘Are you trying to make this difficult? Are you trying to be smart? Are you trying to be hard? Because what I can do is I can get out of this car, I can put the handcuffs on you and I can take you down to the police station,'” Cole said.
WATCH: Gregor Robertson comments on VPD “carding” complaints (Aired June 14, 2018)
Cole said he finds the police stop ironic, since he was on his way to meet with the BC Civil Liberties Association about “carding.”
He is in Vancouver at the invitation of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, where he’ll be giving a speech about racism.
“Why wouldn’t this officer just say, ‘You’re not allowed to smoke in a public park, if you happen to venture onto park territory, I’m just letting you know. Have a great day,'” Cole said.
“Why was he so insistent on getting my name, why did he ask me during the conversation if I have warrants out for my arrest?”
Cole also released a video on social media describing what happened to him.
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The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) has released a statement in response.
“The claim made in the video is not accurate. A street check was not conducted and no information was recorded,” said the VPD statement.
“The officer did approach Mr. Cole about a bylaw infraction. In this case, our officer used his discretion and chose not to serve a bylaw offence ticket.”
Josh Paterson, the executive director of the BC Civil Liberties Association, says this is a systemic problem.
“Black people and Indigenous people are significantly over-represented in police stops in this city. For Indigenous people, it’s a ratio of seven to one. For black people it’s a ratio of five to one,” he said.
Cole says the officer told him “I’ll see you again” before he drove away in his police vehicle.
Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart says he is reaching out to Cole and the VPD about the incident.