Monday, October 17, 2016

Racial Profiling of Black Toronto Lawyer by Garda World Security: Confronting Assumptions, everyday racism and micro-aggression

By Selwyn A. Pieters, B.A., LL.B., L.E.C.
Lawyer & Notary Public (Ontario, Canada)
Attorney-at-Law (Republic of Guyana, Island of Trinidad)
Pieters Law Office
Created October 17, 2016
Updated: October 21, 2016

"When they go low, we go high" Michelle Obama

Midnight Shift ended and I had to confront a Security Guard on His Assumptions

Law is not a 9-5 job. At least not for me.  I do not aspire to a 9-5 job. I am good this way.

Last evening though, the Security Guard from Garda World Security treated me as though I was a stranger in the building I am paying substantial rent for 24 hours access: "You are not allowed in the building", he said.

That would only have validity if that was a determination that he could make but it was not so I continued to the elevator pad, press my floor number and activated my access to the floor with my access card that allowed me on to the elevator and to access the suite where my office is located.

 In my many years of working in the glass towers of downtown Toronto's office buildings, once a person has his/her after hours access card or passes, they are allowed. Even if the person does not have his/her access card and their credentials are in the security system, security can grant them access.

So how and why this security guard would approach me in the manner in which he did is questionable and unprofessional.

Assumptions, everyday racism and micro-aggression

What evidence was/is there to justify such an assumption that I have no right to 1) be in the Lawyers’ lounge at Peel Law Association: See,  Peel Law Association v. Pieters, 2013 CarswellOnt 7881, 2013 ONCA 396, 228 A.C.W.S. (3d) 204, 116 O.R. (3d) 81, 306 O.A.C. 314, 9 C.C.E.L. (4th) 233, [2013] O.J. No. 2695(Ont. C.A.) 2) access the door that lawyers use at the Law Society of Upper Canada (See, Alex Robinson, "Lawyer alleges discrimination by LSUC security guard" July 25, 2016 <>,  LSUC responds to discrimination allegation <> and Narrative to application to the Human Rights Tribunal was filed on September 07, 2016) or 3) Even access my office where I have 24 hours access? NONE.

This is why in most cases I boil it down to racial profiling because the assumptions that a Big Black man with Dreadlocks has no right to be in certain legal spaces are covert, insidious, and pervasive. The assumptions, everyday racism and micro-aggression, in most cases, are unintentional attitudes and behaviors that are learned in conditioned in people so that they act event without self-awareness.

However, the behavior can be more harmful than the racist who unleashed the direct venom by calling me "nigger apettorney Selwyn Pieters", "Nasty beast", "sickle cell diabetic nigger", "fat greasy nigger". Or those people that articulate "The only way it would belong in the building (Osgoode Hall) is if it was there to clean the toilets." We are not going back there, at least not me. But then you know where you stand.

Of course, in each and every case I had either an access card or an identification card to rebut assumptions The assumptions go to who has the inherent right to occupy certain legal spaces and who do not. As I said over and over and over, I interact mostly with Caucasians. They are the people I work with on a daily basis and my experience embarrasses them as these experiences do not form part of their reality or daily existence.

At the end of my shift I made the decision to challenge the security guard from Garda Security. Note that he had no name tag and did not introduce himself to me. Videotaping it was also a way to show the assumptions on which people operate in certain spaces and the irrational way in which the mind work to determine who belong and who do not.

*The security guard has now been fired.


jim graham said...
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Magnum Protective Services said...
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Magnum Protective Services said...

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