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Toronto activist accuses VPD of 'carding'

Last Updated Nov 14, 2018 at 11:59 am EDT


Desmond Cole says he was stopped for no reason and a VPD officer threatened to arrest him

VPD says Cole was approached about a bylaw infraction and no information was recorded

Vancouver police say Desmond Cole's claim is "not accurate"

Editor’s note: The video above contains some language that may not be appropriate for all audiences

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The Vancouver Police Department is coming under fire after an activist from Toronto claims he was “carded” in the city.

The VPD is firing back, claiming it did nothing wrong. It says this was not what it refers to as a “street check” and that Desmond Cole was approached for a bylaw infraction and “no information was recorded.”

“Carding … is when the police stop you for not justifiable reason and demand that you produce your identification to them,” explained Cole in a video on Twitter.

He says he was in town to speak to the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) about the practice of carding, and claims that’s exactly what happened to him near Stanley Park.

“This officer passed me and then he turned around and he came back in my direction. I knew, as soon as I saw him coming back, that he was coming for me.”

Editor’s note: The video below contains some language that may not be appropriate for all audiences

He said the officer did inform him he was being stopped for smoking in a park but added, “I was on the sidewalk. I was not in a public park.”

Cole said the officer immediately wanted to know what his name is. “This has happened to me so many times that I already know what the questions are going to be and I know what’s coming.”

“He was trying to get my information in any possible way that he could. He threatened that … if I didn’t want to comply with him, he could get out of his car, put the handcuffs on me, and take me down to the station,” said Cole.

He claims that went on for 15 minutes and ended with the officer saying to him “I’ll be seeing you around again.”

Cole is speaking out about the incident on social media and says he reported the incident to the VPD.

“I didn’t file a formal complaint, as I have no faith in police investigating themselves,” he said on Twitter.

“If this just happened to me, after being here not only 24 hours, barely, I can only imagine what it’s like for a black person to walk these streets on the regular,” said Cole.

“This officer said, ‘Do you know how many of these I do a day?’ I said, ‘Yeah, we do know. That’s the f—ing problem. We know exactly how many of these you do and we know how unnecessary that they are.”

The VPD says in a statement that “the claim made in the video is not accurate.”

The force says Cole, who is black, was approached about a bylaw infraction. It notes the officer did not give him a ticket, though Cole did not suggest he was given one.

The VPD adds officers “carry out their duties with integrity, compassion and respect and are accountable for their actions.”

BC Civil Liberties Association weighs in

Hours after the incident, the BCCLA took to Twitter to make a comment about the incident. It says it was “completely unacceptable” that Cole was stopped, saying it is “another example of the over representation of black and Indigenous people in police stops in Vancouver.

“Just being a black man walking around in an affluent neighbourhood was enough to attract police interference.”

It adds “a bright light needs to be shone on street checks and the issue of discrimination in policing.”

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Cole planned to file a complaint

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