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Black and Indigenous People Twice as Likely to Distrust Police

Data published by Statistics Canada shows Black and Indigenous people are twice as likely as others to report having little or no confidence in police.

Black and Indigenous People Twice as Likely to Distrust Police
Niamat Ullah/Unsplash.

Data published by Statistics Canada Wednesday shows that Black and Indigenous people are twice as likely as others to report having little or no confidence in police.

  • The data was released yesterday through Juristat, a Stat Can publication that “provides in-depth analysis and detailed statistics on a variety of topics and issues related to justice and public safety.” The data is based on the 2019 and 2020 General Social Surveys, which gather data on “social trends in order to monitor changes in the living conditions and well-being of Canadians, and to provide information on specific social policy issues.”

According to the 2020 GSS, one in five Black people aged 15 and older reported having little or no confidence in police — double the proportion reported by non-Indigenous, non-visible minority people, of whom 11 percent said they had little or no confidence in police.

  • Indigenous people also had relatively low levels of trust in the police, according to the 2020 GSS. Twenty-two percent of Indigenous people reported having little or no confidence in the police.
Graphic: Statistics Canada.

Thirty percent of Black people said police were performing poorly in at least one aspect of their job, compared to 19 percent of non-Indigenous, non-visible minority people who share that view.

  • In particular, 20 percent of Black people felt police were doing a poor job of treating people fairly, compared with seven per cent of non-Indigenous, non-visible minority people.

Eleven percent of Indigenous people felt police were doing a poor job of ensuring the safety of citizens, and 15 percent felt police were doing a poor job of treating people fairly.

  • Stat Can notes that Black people were more likely than non-Indigenous, non-visible minority people to report experiencing discrimination in several aspects of daily life, and when interacting with police.

In 2019, 46 percent of Black people reported experiencing discrimination in the past five years, a proportion nearly three times higher than for non-Indigenous, non-visible minority people.

  • One-third of Indigenous people reported experiencing discrimination in the past five years.
Graphic: Statistics Canada.

Stat Can notes: “Recently, social movements seeking racial and social equity in response to injustice—both current and historical—have demonstrated the importance of measuring and monitoring the perceptions and experiences of diverse populations.”

  • In May 2020, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a Black and Indigenous woman, fell to her death while police were in her home following a 911 call for help. The next month, police shot and killed Chantel Moore, a First Nations woman, during a wellness check in New Brunswick.

The same year, an Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) report found that Black people are more likely than others to be arrested, charged or have force used against them during interactions with Toronto police. The study also found that Black people in Toronto are disproportionately fatally shot by police.

  • As well, the study found that Black people make up 32 percent of those charged by Toronto police, despite making up just 8.8 percent of the city’s population. White people and other racialized groups were underrepresented in those figures.

At the same time, charges against Black people were more likely to be withdrawn and less likely to result in a conviction, which the commission said raised “systemic concerns."

  • Racial justice lawyer Anthony Morgan said at the time: “None of the findings in these reports are a shock or really a surprise.”

Indigenous people face discrimination in the justice system, too. As reported by APTN News last October, a Justice Canada study found that “Indigenous people made up 25 per cent of all accused in 2016—that is, one out of every four—despite comprising only 5 per cent of the general population.”

  • Further, APTN noted, “Indigenous people were 33 per cent less likely to be acquitted and 14 per cent more likely to plead or be found guilty. Then, once convicted, Indigenous offenders were 30 per cent more likely to be imprisoned.”

The RCMP meanwhile, has diversity problems within its own ranks and has a “malaise in how the force deals with women, LGBTQ+, disabled and BIPOC people,” Jeremy Appel reported for The Maple last August.

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