Toronto Police are challenging “the Social” co-host Marci Ien’s claim that she was pulled over and questioned by police because she is black.
Police argue that Ien was stopped because she rolled through a stop sign near a school.
Police officers took to social media to refute Ien’s charges outlined in an opinion piece published in the Globe and Mail Feb.26 titled “The Double Standard of Driving While Black—in Canada.”
Staff-Supt. Mario Di Tommaso said in a tweet addressed to Ien that he had viewed the squad car video of the incident and that it shows she was stopped because of her driving, not because of her ethnicity.
“I have viewed the video footage of your vehicle stop,” Di Tommaso wrote. “You were stopped because of your driving behaviour. You failed to stop at a stop sign. It was dark. Your race was not visible on the video and only became apparent when you stepped out of the vehicle in your driveway.”
I have viewed the video footage of your vehicle stop. You were stopped because of your driving behaviour. You failed to stop at a stop sign. It was dark. Your race was not visible on the video and only became apparent when you stepped out of the vehicle in your drive way.
— Mario Di Tommaso (@SSuptMarioTPS) February 28, 2018
But in her Globe piece, Ien described pulling into her driveway and seeing the flashing lights of a police cruiser behind her. When she got out of her car, the officer told her to get back in and she was “alarmed by his tone.”
It happened again. I had to write. https://t.co/Sj1PjPFqrn
— Marci Ien (@MarciIen) February 26, 2018
She said although she was scared she tried to remain calm, but at the same time she was “frustrated” and “angry” because this wasn’t the first time she had been stopped by police.
“For the third time in eight months, I was being questioned by a police officer – and I had broken no law,” she wrote.
“I don’t deserve this. Not now, nor the previous times I had been pulled over. “I want to let you know you’re being recorded,” he informed me. “You failed to stop at a stop sign back there. That’s dangerous, there’s a school there … lots of kids.”
The officer let Ien off with a warning, without giving her a ticket.
“I went on to tell him that this marked the third time in the past eight months that I had been stopped by police. Every time the initial questions had been the same: ‘Do you live around here? Is this your vehicle?’ In every case, I wasn’t issued a ticket,” she wrote, adding that she told the police officer that if she had done something wrong he should give her a ticket.
“Who you are doesn’t matter; it’s what you are. If you are black in Canada, you are subject to a different standard and, often, seemingly, different laws,” she wrote later in the piece.
Deputy Chief Shawna Coxon also challenged Ien’s claims, saying in a tweet, “We are accountable. The whole event (incl. the traffic infraction) is on camera. The ethnicity of the driver is not visible until after she was pulled over, when she exits the car. The Chief invited her last night on @CP24 to come in & view the video.”
Coxon later tweeted: “These incidents are an opportunity for discussion and learning by everyone involved. Our relationships with people = communities. Our work in listening and building/ensuring trust can never be over.”