In an astonishing report released Monday, the Ontario Human Rights Commission announced it has found Toronto's Black citizens are "20 times more likely than a white person to be shot and killed by police," according to the BBC. The report, which analyzes seven years of data, determined the city's Black population is unjustly singled out by police.
According to Vice, the authors used data collected by Toronto's Special Investigations Unit (SIU) from 2000 and 2006 and from 2013 to 2017. The SIU serves as an oversight board, investigating the use of force against citizens by police officers. In addition to examining instances of abuse or death at the hands of police, they also probe into cases of sexual assault.
The study looked at a total of 244 SIU cases; roughly 25 percent of them involved a Black citizen. The authors found a correlation between the severity of the police violence reported and the race of the injured party; Black citizens were far more likely than white citizens to have severe or deadly harm done to them by Toronto's police force.
For instance, Black citizens were found to be 11.3 times more likely than white citizens to be victims of police violence ending in injury or death. When it came to gun violence, Black Torontonians were 19.5 times more likely than their white counterparts to be shot and killed by police. A full 70 percent of police shootings that resulted in death had Black citizens as victims.
"I don't think we can ignore this disparity," Scot Wortley, a criminologist at the University of Toronto who led the study, told the BBC.
The Toronto Police Department took a slightly different view.
"We recognize that there are those within Toronto’s Black communities who feel that, because of the color of their skin, the police, including when it comes to use of force, have at times, treated them differently," a police spokesperson said. "[We] know that only by acknowledging these lived experiences can we continue to work with our community partners to achieve meaningful changes."
Members of the Black community the BBC spoke to said nothing in the report surprised them.
"This report is not news to the Black community," said Valerie Steele, a community activist. "We in the Black community live this abuse and brutality on a daily basis."
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