Monday, May 31, 1999

Peter Small

p. B1.

Police stand firm on poster

No apology for depiction of Hispanics

Toronto's police union says it had no intention of responding to demands by Hispanic community members that it apologize for putting up a subway poster showing Latino gang members.

The poster, which has been running for three weeks and is scheduled to come down today, was not meant to be offensive to Toronto Hispanics and Latin Americans, said Craig Bromell, president of the Toronto Police Association.

No one from the community has complained directly to the union, Bromell said last night, charging that the uproar over the poster was politically motivated by Judy Sgro, a Toronto Police Services Board official who is a Liberal. "This is a real cheap shot," Bromell said. "She obviously doesn't care about law and order in this city."

The poster sponsored by the police union, asks people to consider these issues when they vote in Thursday's provincial election and it intentionally depicts a gang from East Los Angeles, he said.

The poster asks voters to "help fight crime by electing candidates who are prepared to take on the drug pushers, the pimps and rapists…"

"It doesn't matter to us really what people think as long as we get the message across," Bromell said. "I guess if it was to happen again we would do the same thing."

Bromell did leave open the possibility, however, that leaders of the 7,000-member union would review using the same photograph in future.

In its short history, it has outraged many in Toronto's Latin community, a quiet group slow to take offence, said Sgro, the police board's vice-chair and a city councillor.

"They would never have been able to do this and put five Jamaicans in there, I can tell you, or five Chinese," Sgro said. "I expect you're going to hear more about this."

Sgro (North York Humber), a rival of the union since the day she started on the police board about 20 months ago, said she will contact the police union today, urging it to apologize and remove the poster, if it hasn't done so already.

'It's completely out of line'

The written content is good, she said, "But the picture that accompanies the message is clearly racist and is clearly indicating that it's the Latin American community that's responsible for the crime here in the city."

"I personally would apologize for having that poster posted in our subway system," TTC chair Howard Moscoe said. "I think it's completely out of line."

"These things can and do happen but when they're drawn to our attention, I think we're prepared to act on them fairly quickly."

The Toronto Transit Commission will refer the poster to the Advertising Standards Council, the industry's watchdog, said Bob Brent, the TTC's chief marketing officer.

The TTC doesn't set its advertising because it doesn't believe its role is to set community standards, but it responds to complaints, he said.

Toronto Police clippings… [Fiona Stewart]

Created: October 9, 2000
Last modified: October 9, 2000
J.D. Jane Doe, c/o Walnet Institute
Box 3075, Vancouver, BC V6B 3X6
Tel: +1 (604) 488-0710