Wednesday, June 2, 1999

Paul Moloney

p. B5.

Police union ad incites hatred, ethnic groups say

Hispanic community 'deeply hurt' by gang poster

Members of Toronto's Hispanic population were deeply hurt by a police union subway poster showing Latino gang members, community leaders say.

"We think that this poster incites hatred towards our community," Consuelo Rubio of the Centre for Spanish-Speaking Peoples told a news conference at Metro Hall yesterday.

The poster, which has been removed, wrongly targeted Hispanic youth as being involved in crime, said Duberlis Ramos, executive director of the Hispanic Development Council.

"The picture utilized by the (Toronto Police Association) or by their consultants depicts a situation in east Los Angeles. It's not even a reality in our great city of Toronto," Ramos said. "It's hurt the community deeply."

Backed by leaders of other major cultural groups, the Hispanic community has contacted the Ontario Human Rights Commission, which is considering opening an investigation.

The community, which has 230,000 members in Greater Toronto, is demanding police association leaders apologize, post the apology where the poster was displayed, take sensitivity training and participate in and help fund a multicultural forum.

There has been no response, Rubio told reporters. Police association president Craig Bromell said the union may have something to say by the end of the week.

"We're extremely busy right now on other matters," Bromell told The Star. "It's just that we have other important issues we're dealing with right now. We just haven't got to it yet."

The poster, urging people to consider law-and-order issues in deciding who to support in tomorrow's provincial election, is both dishonest and illogical, said Chinese community leader Philip Tsui.

"One fact the police association clearly does not see is that Toronto is not east L.A.," said Tsui, president of the Chinese Canadian National Council's Toronto Chapter.

Ramos said the police association has the right to raise law-and-order issues and engage in political expression, but it doesn't have the right to target a particular group.

"This ad is focusing on one of the most negative instincts of the community — fear.

When this fear is being implanted in terms of having a single community as the focus of this fear, we feel it's really appalling."

The Toronto Transit Commission has formally apologized for the poster, displayed in the Bloor-Yonge subway station.

'The TTC regrets this (ad) because it's obviously inappropriate.'
— TTC Commissioner David Miller

"I personally feel the need to apologize to the Hispanic community for that ad," TTC chair Councillor Howard Moscoe said during a regular commission meeting yesterday.

"It was offensive and I hope through slight modifications to our policy we'll ensure something like that doesn't happen again," said Moscoe (North York Spadina).

The TTC's advertising contractor, Urban Outdoor Trans Ad, sold the space to the Toronto Police Association, said commissioner David Miller.

The company is responsible for reviewing content to ensure it meets rules laid down by the Advertising Standards Council, the industry's watchdog, said Miller (High Park).

"In this case, the ad pretty clearly doesn't seem to comply. It was just missed and that's why as soon as (TTC) staff became aware of it, they asked that it be taken down and it was."

The poster had been in place for two weeks and had another 10 days to run when it was pulled, Miller said.

"The TTC has the right to require any ad to be taken down at any time. The TTC regrets this one, because it's obviously inappropriate."

In addition to apologize, the commission requested that Advertising standards officials make a public ruling on the poster and unanimously directed TTC staff to review policy to avoid a recurrence.

Toronto Police clippings… [Fiona Stewart]

Created: October 9, 2000
Last modified: October 9, 2000
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