Journalist Desmond Cole on How the Toronto Star Tried to Silence His Activism for Black Liberation

Last month here in Toronto, journalist Desmond Cole was told by his editor at the Toronto Star that he had violated the newspaper’s rules on journalism and activism, after Cole protested a Toronto Police Services Board meeting. In his writings, Cole has long criticized the controversial police practice of carding — stopping, interrogating and collecting data on individuals without probable cause, a practice which disproportionately targets people of color in Canada. In 2015, he wrote a widely read piece for Toronto Life titled “The Skin I’m In: I’ve been interrogated by police more than 50 times — all because I’m black.” For more, we speak with Desmond Cole, former columnist for the Toronto Star and now a freelance journalist, activist and radio host on Newstalk 1010.

AMY GOODMAN: We are broadcasting from, well, the stadium where the Blue Jays play. That’s right, we’re in Toronto, Canada, at the SkyDome. Juan?

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: “I choose activism in the service of Black liberation.” Those are the words of our next guest, Desmond Cole, explaining why he left his bimonthly column at the Toronto Star. Last month, Cole protested a Toronto Police Services Board meeting and was subsequently told by his editor at The Star that he had violated the newspaper’s rules on journalism and activism. In his writings, Cole has long criticized the controversial police practice of carding — stopping, interrogating and collecting data on individuals without a probable cause, a practice which disproportionately targets people of color in Canada. In 2015, he wrote a widely read piece for Toronto Life titled “The Skin I’m In: I’ve been interrogated by police more than 50 times — all because I’m black.” Last month, Cole brought a police board hearing to a halt by refusing to leave the speaker’s chair until all information gathered from carding was destroyed.

DESMOND COLE: I stand up for the children of this city that you guys refuse to protect, particularly the black children. And I plan to stand…

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