Mississauga, Brampton residents push for anti-black racism panel on Police Services Board

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Published August 27, 2021 at 3:31 pm

A Mississauga social justice advocate pleaded with the Peel Police Services Board (PPSB) today to create an anti-black racism advisory panel.

Appearing before the board at its virtual meeting to present her case, Anu Radha Verma challenged the conclusion of a report from PPSB executive director Rob Serpe that existing supports in Mississauga and Brampton are sufficient. The report, discussed by board members today, goes on to suggest the PPSB could instead create a diversity and inclusion committee that would be broader in scope.

Verma said a process where tangible actions can take place is what’s needed, not a committee that would potentially be slow moving and more bureaucratic in nature.

“An advisory panel that would work with the board is one step you can take today,” Verma pleaded, adding “…and there is some real heavy lifting still to come.”

At the end of today’s discussion, PPSB members, who form the civilian body that governs Peel Regional Police, decided they want more information before deciding if an anti-black racism advisory panel is the best path to follow. They’ll discuss the matter again at their next meeting on Sept. 24.

In voting to delay the matter, board members said they wanted more information on whether a diversity and inclusion committee would, in any meaningful fashion, address the specific anti-black discrimination concerns of an increasingly frustrated number of Mississauga and Brampton residents.

Furthermore, members also want information on what Toronto Police have done on this front.

“There is a frustration (among some) in the community that they’re not being heard,” said Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, adding a number of committees in Mississauga deal with a wide range of issues of importance to the city’s diverse communities.

“I don’t want to duplicate what I’m already doing at the City (of Mississauga),” continued Crombie, “…but I don’t mind sitting on another committee (if necessary).”

In tabling the motion to defer, board member and Brampton councillor Martin Medeiros acknowledged the frustration among many residents.

“We’re all saying the same thing, but the community wants a voice in an area where they think they have no voice,” he said.

Serpe defended the recommendation for a diversity and inclusion committee, and urged patience for those who say that won’t address concerns.

“People might think we’re not going far enough (with suggested diversion and inclusion committee), but let’s wait and see what the terms of reference are,” he said.

Serpe’s report concludes that because of existing anti-black and anti-racism work currently underway by the police department, the Region of Peel and both Mississauga and Brampton, “there does not appear to be a gap that would be filled by establishing a standalone Peel Police Services Board anti-black or anti-racism advisory panel.”

It also points out that most police boards across Ontario don’t have such committees.

The report was commissioned following a deputation to the PPSB earlier this year that called for more community input on the board concerning anti-black racism.

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