Mike Miller was standing on a sidewalk filming police in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, when two officers harassed him on Sept. 14 (video below)
According to the Toronto Star, a black youth was being detained by police, while a second one was in the process of being searched. The incident happened in an area where police are known for "carding" people, which is when they stop someone to get information.
In the video, two officers, identified by the newspaper as Brian Smith and Shawn Gill, are directed to Miller by an arresting officer.
Smith and Gill, who are part of TAVIS (Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy), aggressively try to block Miller from filming by getting so close that he has to back up, and they by waving their hands in the front of his camera, all under the guise of having a normal conversation.
Police spokesperson Meaghan Gray told the newspaper that officers were trying to protect the identities of the two youths, 15 and 16, however, the officers never mentioned that, nor did they ever talk to the youths to get their ages.
Their identities are protected by law, and certainly while we feel the officers’ concerns were appropriate, their lack of communication in this regard was not.
I think that a clear explanation could have and should have been provided to the citizen who was doing the filming, as to why they did not want those boys being filmed.
There’s no one here who feels that their response was appropriate.
“When you express your rights, this is how police sort of deal with you,” Miller countered. “They want to put you in your place and belittle you and make you feel humiliated.”
Miller did say that he spoke with Police Chief Mark Saunders on the phone.
“I actually think the leadership of the police department is reasonable, and I don’t want to come across like I’m anti-police,” Miller stated. “And I don’t want to blindside the leadership. Plus, I was worried about my safety.”
The Ontario government recently announced that it was going to end the practice of "arbitrary, random" carding this fall because of complaints and studies that claim police go after minorities too much, reported VICE.
Neil Price, of Logical Outcomes, a firm that has studied carding, told the news site, "What the police still haven't done is ... articulate the purposes of those stops and how those stops actually help to reduce crime.
"Police forces across Ontario have not been following the law," lawyer Vilko Zbogar stated. "They need to be told in very clear, explicit language that the law forbids the kind of arbitrary stop they've been frequently conducting."
"There has to be some specific crime," Zbogar added. "Just hanging out in the park late at night is not a suspicious activity. It's not like a white guy in a suit is going to be accused of suspicious activity, it's always going to be a black kid or an Aboriginal kid."
A Toronto police spokesman told said that the department is waiting for the regulations to be released before making any comments.