Matthew Green hires civil rights lawyer for carding hearing
Green's lawyer brings expertise in racial profiling, carding and human rights issues
Coun. Matthew Green will bring his own lawyer to a police disciplinary hearing Thursday into a complaint he made that he was carded by police while waiting for the bus last April.
Green will be represented by Selwyn Pieters, a Toronto lawyer and longtime civil rights activist who has dealt with cases that raise human rights issues and carding.
This case is going to be about exactly what members of the black community complain about, being treated as strangers in their own community.- Selwyn Pieters, attorney and civil rights activist
"This case is going to be about exactly what members of the black community complain about, being treated as strangers in their own community," Pieters said. "Matthew Green had the right to be there."
Though the Police Services Act disciplinary hearings typically function as a two-party process – a prosecutor and the defendant officer – the process allows for a complainant to bring his or her own counsel, as well.
Green said in a statement he felt it was important to have his own counsel to bring out the facts of the case.
'What are you doing there?'
The April incident re-ignited the local discussion about racial profiling and the controversial practice of carding or street checks.
The incident happened when Green, the city's first black councillor, was waiting for a bus on the corner of Stinson Street and Victoria Avenue South on April 26.
He was standing in the cold, checking emails on his phone, around 3 p.m. on a Tuesday, when he said he was stopped and questioned for several minutes by a Hamilton Police officer who seemed not to realize who he was.
"What are you doing there?" was the first thing Green said he heard the officer say.
While Green said at the time he didn't know what the officer was thinking, he feels he was approached and questioned because he is black.
He felt like a suspect in his own neighbourhood, he said. He felt intimidated, frustrated and angry.
'The nation's foremost expert'
"I felt it important to retain the nation's foremost expert on matters related to my complaint," Green said in a statement about Pieters representing him.
Pieters said his expertise will enable him to draw out information from Green, the officer and people who witnessed the interaction between the officer and Green.
"I come with a specific expertise that not only should benefit Matthew Green but should also benefit the tribunal," he said. "The tribunal probably never heard a carding case before."
The Hamilton Police Service has not released details about the hearing or what charges are being laid.
"As a Service, we respect the PSA process and do not comment in order to protect the integrity of the proceedings," said a service spokeswoman to a previous request about the case.