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Supt.Ruth White, Fourteen Division, Toronto Police Service,
150 Harrison Street, Toronto M5T 1L4
Dear Superintendent White,
We’ve been meaning to come and see you for some time. Now something has moved that intention higher on our agenda.
The reason we had planned to contact you is that we’ve recently resumed our analysis of the police reports we got from Freedom of Information on Dec.5, 2005 (File #051925), pertaining to Dufferin Grove Park. We were trying to understand the pattern of police questioning of park users. The reports lead to some puzzling questions that you may be able to help with.
Then more recently I have been hearing that you or others at Fourteen Division feel I may have interfered with a police investigation on October 2, 2007, at Dufferin Grove Park.
This needs discussion. It’s the second time in ten years that I’ve heard I could be arrested for obstructing police at the park. The first time was when I was pleading with an officer to allow a 17-year-old black woman to breastfeed her crying three-month old baby before she was taken away in a police cruiser. The officer said that if I didn’t stop talking immediately she would arrest me and impound my bike. It turned out that the young woman who was prevented from feeding her baby was wrongfully arrested as a result of a computer error.
Now I am said to have interfered with an investigation. The officer who yanked me by the arm, and said he would arrest me, had given little sign of investigating the stabbing. He did not interview any of the park staff who had seen the group beside the basketball court, nor was he interested in hearing from me or anyone else about the previous day’s lead-up to the incident. After half an hour, the officer suddenly decided to put up police tape around the basketball court where we had all been standing. Our attempts to return to our rink house meeting, walking back to the office across the court, became an offense.
Beyond that, after the officer told me he might arrest me, a park user reported hearing the officer radioing “it’s the park woman.” Was the officer perhaps looking for some way to engage me in a disagreement?
The reason I ask is that it’s no secret that I am not well-liked at Fourteen Division. I can only imagine that my criticism of police actions in the park has got me labeled a “police-basher.”
This brings me back to the first reason why we want to meet with you. My criticisms of Fourteen Division fall into roughly two categories:
1. difficulty in getting police to collaborate with us in our work of making the park safer (what I have called “the police working in a bubble”) and
2. patterns of police questioning park users along apparently racial lines.
The police reports we got from Freedom of Information do not, of course, specify race or even age or gender. But what we did get to read requires some follow-up – both of what’s in the reports and what’s missing (some police visits and incidents known and reported by park users or park staff were not in any of the police reports we received). I have enclosed one of the charts from our analysis. May we meet with you about it?