*The Vancouver police were recently on the hunt for a dark-skinned assault suspect aged between 40 and 50. When they saw an elderly Black man taking his morning walk around Stanley Park, five white officers decided any ol’ Black face will do and they detained him for “fitting the description.”
As it turns out, the 81-year-old is a former judge for British Columbia’s Supreme Court. Now the department has been apologizing profusely to Selwyn Romilly and Kennedy Stewart, the mayor of Vancouver, says he is “appalled” that police officers wrongfully detained and handcuffed him.
“They said that they got a complaint about someone fitting my description, and before I could say anything, they told me to put my hands behind my back and they shackled me with handcuffs,” Romilly told CBC News.
“I have no gun, I don’t have anything in my hand or my person. And here you have — at 9:45 a.m., near to Third Beach where you have lots of people — you have a black guy … shackled in handcuffs and people passing by. I found that most embarrassing,” he said.
Romilly told the officers he was a retired judge, and they released him from the handcuffs “after about a minute.”
“You would think that we’re past that stage in Canada,” Romilly said of the arrest.
Vancouver Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Steve Addison said officers were responding to several 911 calls about a man assaulting strangers on the seawall near English Bay.
“Officers observed a man who resembled the description of the suspect and briefly detained him to investigate. Given the violent nature of the incident, the man was handcuffed,” Addison wrote. The correct suspect was later found and arrested walking in the same area as Romilly, according to the report.
Romilly doesn’t plan to file a complaint but hopes the police department curbs the racial profiling.
“They have to be very vigilant when they train young white police officers for dealing with minorities,” Romilly said. “I hate to say that this is a case where I was targeted because I was walking while Black, but you kind of wonder why those handcuffs were placed on me at such an early stage.”
“All of our institutions are based on colonialism and as such, are systemically racist,” including the city and police department, Stewart said.