Once upon a time a very long time ago in the land of Rexdale, Ontario, there lived a young woman who would be lucky enough to go to school with Toronto Police officers roaming the halls (in addition to a regular security guard). That same young woman would graduate with honours and a scholarship to many, many different universities, and return to complete her Masters practicum at the very same high school. Also still at that high school 6+ years later, were the same type of Toronto Police officers.
The problem with Toronto Police Officers being in high schools in Toronto was that it was very, Very obvious to the teachers (both white and non white) that only certain students were even noticed by those police officers. I was approached many times by the uniformed police officers while a high school student. I was also approached by undercover Brandon Walsh looking police officers asking me where I could score some “Ganja”
I laughed it off then, but that was due to the fact that I didn’t realize why I was being asked this question and not my Chinese Canadian friend, or my Greek friend. Now looking back I understand why, but back then it was a joke.
Fast forward a few years, 4 years of my undergrad and then 1 and a half for the beginning of my Masters program for teaching and I found myself back at my home high school in Rexdale, teaching some of my classmates’ younger siblings or cousins! You know who was still roaming those halls? Yup, you guessed it, Toronto Police Officers! Multiple times when I was teaching there were incidents, where massive group fights broke out (Just like when I was a student) and umm, who went to go break up these fights you might ask…Not the Toronto Police! Nope, they sure didn’t! In fact one of the VPs broke her ankle because she was pushed down the back hill of my school trying to break up a fight. In fact as a part of my training as a teacher, there was actually a page over the PA system where they would say something along the lines of “Paging Mr. Nelson to the front Hallway” which meant ALL TEACHERS come to the front hallway to break up a fight! Not once in my 2 years of volunteering did I see a Police officer break up a fight, but Every Damn day I saw a teachers helping those same “at risk” students instead of intimidating, Not every teacher but most of them at this school were like that.
Those same police officers would stop me in the hallway when I was dressed in jeans every Friday to the point where my supervising teacher suggested that I no longer come in dressed down, because she was worried for my safety (also that teacher of mine was a white lady). They would stop me in the hallway saying the most condescending things, like “Excuse me Missy shouldn’t you be in class?” “Don’t make us send you to the Principal’s office.” When I would snap back at them and say I am a teacher not a student (very loudly) they wouldn’t even apologize, instead almost every single time it would be a mimicking of my voice and then saying something along the lines of, “Hey you should take it as a compliment, you look so good for your age, by the way how old are you?” It would make me so angry!
What makes things worse as a teacher who didn’t recognize my privilege, my students would walk into my class late, and tell me regularly they were late because they were stopped by the cops. I could easily snap back at those officers in front of the Principal’s office, but could my students, nope.
For all those people who say the schools will be less safe without police officers there, you are privileged enough to think that the Toronto Police Officers are there to serve and Protect you. As a young Indian woman with dark skin, I didn’t feel that way, and I still don’t feel that way. I know Police Officers, I have family members who are Toronto Police officers, and I see the problem in them too! There is a systemic problem within the Toronto Police Services, they are brainwashed to be a certain way towards Women, and people of colour, and they reserve their harshest judgement for young Black Men.
Until you are someone who experiences blatant racism or sexism from the organization that is paid to protect you, please just SIT DOWN, AND SHUT UP!
Also I will add as I always do, There are good police officers in Toronto, but UNTIL those good ones outnumber the bad ones there will always be anger and fear towards them instead of being revered.