Posted on February 22, 2008

Inmates ‘Crying Racism’

Tom Godfrey, Toronto Sun, February 22, 2008

Non-white inmates at the Don Jail are “crying racism” and showing lots of attitude over the suspected actions of white guards, a union official said.

“Inmates read the paper and listen to the news,” Don Ford, of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, said yesterday. “Some non-white inmates are crying racism and creating incidents which our officers have to deal with.”

Some inmates believe white officers are behind threats over a three-year period to nine black officers at the Don and Metro West Detention Centre, Ford said.

The nine officers have been granted paid leave until the end of June as a probe continues, he said.

“The officers were having a hard time on the job,” Ford said.

“Our goal is to prevent them from being re-victimized.”

A probe by Toronto Police and the ministry of community safety and correctional services has no suspects after three years.

“The stress on the officers has been phenomenal.” Ford said. “They believe they can be working beside the same person who may be behind this.”

The incidents of hate came to a boil last month after 20 black, and some white officers, walked off the job at the Don because of more threatening letters that arrived in December and the lack of progress in the investigation.

The black guards have been receiving threats at home or at the jail since January 2005. Some letters contained derogatory terms for blacks and mentioned the KKK, segregation and assaults on black women.

Ministry spokesman Stuart McGetrick said a lot of work is being done to restore trust at the facilities.

“The vast majority of our officers are professional and not involved in this behaviour,” McGetrick said. “There is a lot taking place behind the scenes to fix the situation.”