Open letter from Jane Finch Action Against Poverty (JFAAP) to the Toronto Police Services Board
July 24, 2012
Attention: Toronto Police Services Board
40 College Street
Canada M5G 2J3
Chair and Board Members;
We want to bring to your attention some very destructive activities by Superintendent Dave McLeod of 31 Division. On Friday, June 8th 2012, the Jane Finch Crisis Support Network convened a meeting of its members at Black Creek Community Health Center, Yorkgate Mall. This is a network of agencies and engaged residents who work together around issues of safety in our community. This was a regular monthly meeting.
Superintendent David McLeod of 31 Division arrived at this meeting. He had not been expressly invited; however, it was assumed that he had been passed on the invitation from a member of the police from a meeting held the previous week. The agenda was set and there were multiple opportunities and offers to people present to add items to the agenda. Superintendent McLeod did not add anything to the agenda.
What followed was a traumatic event for all those present. Superintendent McLeod hijacked the meeting with his own agenda item. He repeatedly verbally attacked the meeting’s chair, Sabrina
(Butterfly) Gopaul, calling a quote from her in an interview with the Boss Magazine, “borderline criminal” behaviour. Ms. Gopaul had stated in this interview that what she was most passionate about making happen in the Jane-Finch community was “a community led resistance against the police and working towards global comradeship against the austerity knife.”
Superintendent David McLeod was severe, unrelenting, and intimidating in his manner. Members of the network at the meeting stated on several occasions that this was inappropriate, that this was not the space or time to have this discussion, and that he should stop pursuing this
topic, but he continued.
When members stated that she had a Charter Right to freedom of speech, he responded that as a community leader, she did not have that right. He then attempted to tell the group how to do their work, that they should not support Butterfly or this position on the police. In spite of the group’s opposition to his position, he continued to repeat himself.
In spite of his inappropriate behaviour, the other members remained calm, attempted to redirect the conversation, and tried to handle the matter professionally. This did not stop the superintendent, but it
did stop any productive discussion. Many members left the meeting when the Superintendent refused to back down. He denied that he was being intimidating even after members had left the room and several others were crying.
Eventually the meeting was adjourned as the chair had no choice but to leave, the network was unable to do any of its work, and everyone there expressed that they felt intimated and bullied.
The actions of Superintendent McLeod at this meeting and at least one other community meeting has shown clearly that he has no understanding of the damage that he is doing in the community. He clearly does not understand the legal principles involved in the Charter of Rights. He demonstrated the lack of skills and professionalism in dealing with the community and he misused the authority and privileges that our city has given him that allow him to have a badge and carry a gun in our neighbourhood.
We believe that your officer, Dave McLeod, is improperly employed in the position of Superintendent of 31 Division or any other similar positions and demand to see him removed from that position as soon as possible.
Background: Ms. Gopaul and many others have seen numerous problems with the police service in our community. We have seen a number of cases where there have been no consequences for officers who abuse their authority on the streets, in their cars and in the station. The result of this has been emotional scaring, lack of trust and resentment towards the police and, in some cases, like Junior Manon,
death. We see our youth afraid to walk the streets of our communities because of the racial profiling activities of your officers.
Thank you for taking all these serious concern and our demand into your prompt consideration. We look forward to hearing from you soon.
Jane-Finch Action Against Poverty (JFAAP)
CC to: All community organizations and grass-roots groups in the community and allies