TTC settles lawsuit, apologizes to black man detained by fare inspector

An incident that saw a young black teen aggressively held down by enforcement officers is sparking change at the TTC. Melissa Nakhavoly with how the incident is pushing the transit agency to develop an anti-racism strategy.

By News Staff

The TTC wants to change how they investigate racism complaints from transit users after a city ombudsman’s report criticized the detainment and treatment of a young black man in 2018.

In February 2018, three fare inspectors detained a man on a mid-town streetcar platform. Video on social media showed inspectors pinning him face down on the ground and he is heard yelling, “you’re hurting me.”

The report said it looked at the TTC’s investigation and not the actual altercation. While the report was critical, it did commend the TTC for immediately looking into the incident and retaining all surveillance footage from the streetcar.

The report made six recommendations to improve the transit commission’s investigations, such as providing additional training for its internal investigators and ensuring impartiality.

The TTC said in July that it planned to implement all of the ombudsman’s recommendations before the end of the year including developing an “anti-racism strategy” with an anti-racism task force.

The CEO of the TTC said he personally apologized to Reece Maxwell-Crawford on Wednesday night as they discussed a settlement reached in a lawsuit the man had filed against the agency.

“Reece and I agreed that it’s time to turn the page and start looking toward the future – a future in which the TTC is an organization that is committed to addressing bias and discrimination, both conscious and unconscious, and a future in which the TTC is a transit agency all of our customers can have faith that they are being treated fairly and with respect,” Rick Leary told a news conference.

Maxwell-Crawford said he’s glad to put the incident behind him.

“I am heartened to hear about the TTC’s commitment to implementing the Toronto ombudsman’s report and engaging in a system-wide anti-racism strategy aimed directly at preventing racial profiling,” he said in a written statement issued by his lawyer.

On Thursday, the TTC announced they would be going ahead with implementing those plans, including collecting race-based data to record any incidents of racism.

The transit agency said they currently have no way to keep track of these types of complaints, but they will continue to use a third party to investigate any racist incidents.

The TTC said they want everyone to be comfortable using the transit system.

The agency added they would also like to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to racist behaviour and will be looking for experts to determine what kind of data needs to be collected.

“When it comes to combating anti-black racism and all forms of discrimination in both our operations and corporate culture, we can, should and must do better,” Leary said Thursday. “This was echoed in comments I have heard from our customers, parents and our own employees. And do better we will.”

With files from the Canadian Press

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