Anti-black racism advocate slams ‘intentional ignorance’ of Peel Police board diversity committee


Published October 22, 2021 at 5:02 pm

Refusing to start an anti-black racism panel is being dubbed “intentional ignorance” on the part of the the Peel Police Services Board (PPSB).

On Friday, the board was presented with a draft mandate for its proposed Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which was born out of a request for a panel to deal specifically with anti-black racism in policing.

That request – which was rejected back in August in favour of a broader-scoped diversity committee – was made by advocate David Bosveld who had strong words for the PPSB at its monthly meeting on Friday.

“Refusing to take this advice into consideration cannot be viewed as a mistake, but as intentional ignorance to the nuance and importance of anti-racism work,” said Bosveld, a founder of the Black Education Fund.

“It’s like creating an ‘all lives matter’ panel when what’s necessary here is a ‘Black Lives Matter’ panel.”

A PPSB report in August recommended the board form a committee to deal with broader systemic inequities in policing experienced by a number of diverse groups, including the Indigenous and LGBTQ2 communities.

While the board says it looked to the Toronto Police Services Board’s Anti-Racism Advisory Panel when drafting it’s diversity committee mandate, Bosveld said the PPSB’s proposed committee is “watered-down version at best” and “completely missed the mark of the original request.”

Bosveld took exception to PPSB Executive Director Rob Serpe’s “completely separate” diversity committee proposal, and rejected the board’s claim that a specific anti-black racism panel was not needed because similar outreach already occurs in Mississauga and Brampton.

“(Diversity and Inclusion) is not comparable to ant-racism work and will not be impactful,” he said.

Responding to Bosveld’s comments, Brampton Councillor Martin Medeiros and Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said they recognized the need for any diversity committee to engage specifically with the Black community in Peel.

The board passed a motion by motion Medeiros recommending a subcommittee within the diversity committee tasked with specific engagement on anti-black racism.

Both Crombie and Medeiros said they were weary of creating a committee for every diverse group in the Region, but the Crombie acknowledged the need for the PPSB to keep up with police services which are taking proactive steps towards combating anti-black racism.

“We do see there are other police boards moving in this direction and I certainly don’t want to be left behind,” she said.

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