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Public safety minister will attend police carding town hall in Hamilton

After Hamilton was originally left out of provincial consultations on the controversial police practice of carding, the province has shifted gears and will now attend a local town hall about the issue next week.
Matthew Green, councillor for Ward 3, and Julia Horton, equity vice president of CUPE Local 5167, listen to a police services board discussion in June about street checks. Green is holding a town hall on the issue on Sept. 15. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

After Hamilton was originally left out of provincial consultations on the controversial police practice of carding, the province has shifted gears and will now attend a local town hall about the issue next week.

Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Yasir Naqvi will attend the Hamilton carding town hall on Sept. 15.

The minister's office said he would likely make some introductory remarks before listening listening to the local input.

Coun. Matthew Green, who is spearheading the town hall, had previously said he hoped the provincial government would either send a representative or accept the information he gathered at the meeting.

Ontario is currently looking at ways to regulate the controversial practice used by many forces in the province. Critics say it is unconstitutional, a violation of privacy and often targets visible minorities.

Green says he wants anyone with experience with street checks to attend, particularly people who are willing to "go on the record so we can give the Hamilton perspective to the provincial process."

Hamilton Police have been saying for years, and as recently as June, that they don't keep race-based statistics and thus can't evaluate their policing the way that has been done in other Ontario cities. In February, police spokeswoman Catherine Martin said police sometimes include "descriptors" in their notes from interactions, but didn't say when or how frequently those descriptors would include racial or ethnic identity.

But in July, Deputy Chief Eric Girt showed the Hamilton Police Services board a breakdown of street checks by race.

The data police released shows Hamilton street checks disproportionately target visible minorities, especially black people.

The meeting will be at city hall council chambers at 6:30 p.m.

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