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End to carding is having an impact on violence: police union head

CityNews | posted Monday, Feb 1st, 2016

The head of Toronto’s police union said putting a stop to carding is having an impact on the level of violence in the city.

“Anecdotally … we had a broad public policy change around street checks and I think that this is having an impact on our ability to proactively investigate intelligence-led policing,” Mike McCormack, the president of the Toronto Police Association, said Sunday.

“I believe that this having an impact now on the amount of violence now and people carrying firearms,” he added.

Carding, or street checks, is the controversial practice of random and arbitrary stops of citizens who weren’t suspected of any wrongdoing. It was widely criticized as racist, with statistics showing it disproportionately targeted minorities, especially black men.

The Ontario ombudsman ruled that carding is “wrong and illegal” and it violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Last fall, the Ontario government introduced stricter guidelines for street checks.

Knia Singh, a law student and community activist who launched a constitutional challenge against carding, said McCormack’s statement is not true.

To say “stopping carding is causing violence, it’s totally not true,” Singh said Sunday.

“If you analyze the data from 2012, there were 34 shootings [resulting] in death. In 2015, there were 26. That’s a 25 per cent drop with the elimination of carding.So when carding was at its peak, in 2012, there was a higher murder rate by firearm,” he added.

McCormack was speaking after two people were killed and three others were wounded in a shooting in Chinatown. There has been an increase in gun violence this January compared to last year and McCormack said he feared shootings were becoming “more brazen.”

“We need to have properly deployed police officers,” the union president said.

“Until we can get out there and figure out the intelligence we need, the investigations that we need, I think [the violence] will continue.”

Singh said, given the data, McCormack’s comments were irresponsible and inaccurate.

“This small spike, right now, is of concern to public safety, but it’s not related to carding. It’s really irresponsible for McCormack to say that it is.”

‘Spotlight’ wins best ensemble at not-so-white SAG Awards

Jake Coyle, The Associated Press | posted Monday, Feb 1st, 2016

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The Screen Actors Guild Awards were not so white.

While the Academy Awards remain enveloped in a crisis over the diversity of its nominees, the 22nd annual SAG Awards on Saturday presented a stark antidote to the rancour that has overwhelmed Hollywood’s awards season. Awards were handed out to Queen Latifah, Uzo Aduba, Viola Davis and Idris Elba (twice), as the actors guild cast a loud vote in favour of diversity on big and small screens.

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to diverse TV,” said Elba in his third trip on stage as a presenter. His first two were to accept awards for his supporting performance in the Netflix child soldier drama “Beasts of No Nation” and for his lead performance in the BBC miniseries “Luther.”

The night’s top honour, best ensemble in a film, went to the newspaper drama “Spotlight,” which came into Saturday badly in need of some momentum. The ensemble award had seemingly come down to “Spotlight” or – the film with the wind at its back – Adam McKay’s high finance tale “The Big Short,” which last week took the Producers Guild’s top award.

“No way,” said Mark Ruffalo, one of the film’s stars.

He praised the writer-director Tom McCarthy and co-writer Josh Singer for their purposeful accuracy in penning the journalistic procedural about the Boston Globe’s reporting on sexual abuse by Catholic priests. The two, he said, “took every single opportunity to tell the truth. They didn’t take any cheap way. It was always the truth.”

Elba made no direct reference to the crisis that has swept through Hollywood in the last two weeks – which might have been far less severe had he been nominated by the Academy Awards, as many expected. But it was on the minds and tongues of seemingly everyone in Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium on Saturday night.

Accepting the most outstanding ensemble award, comedy series, for “Orange Is the New Black,” co-star Laura Prepon gestured to the cast of the prison comedy standing behind her.

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 30:  The cast of 'Orange Is the New Black,' including actors Vicky Jeudy, Lori Petty, Uzo Aduba, Kate Mulgrew, Annie Golden, Laura Prepon, Dale Soules, Laverne Cox, and Michelle Hurst, accept Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series award onstage at the 22nd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 30, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images for Screen Actors Guild Foundation)
The cast of ‘Orange Is the New Black’ accepts the Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series award onstage at the 22nd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Jan. 30, 2016 in Los Angeles. GETTY IMAGES/Angela Weiss.

“Look at this stage,” said Prepon at Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium. “This is what we talk about when we talk about diversity.”

Individual actor SAG winners the last three years have exactly corresponded with eventual Oscar winners, which meant that SAG winners Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Revenant”), Brie Larson (“Room”) and Alicia Vikander (“The Danish Girl”) all appear to have cemented their status as favourites. Each won, as expected.

“For any young actors out there, I encourage you to watch the history of cinema,” said DiCaprio, who is expected to land his first Oscar after four previous nominations. “As the history of cinema unfolds, you realize that we all stand on the shoulders of giants.”

But supporting actor will differ this year. The category’s perceived favourite is Sylvester Stallone for the Rocky sequel “Creed.” Stallone, though, wasn’t nominated by the screen actors.

Actors make up the largest branch of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, which is why the SAG Awards are a closely watched harbinger of the Oscars. But the Screen Actors Guild is massive by comparison: some 160,000 members to the academy’s 6,000-plus. Voting for the SAG Awards, which concluded Friday, also overlapped with the widespread debate over the industry’s inclusiveness that followed Academy Awards nominations that resurrected the
“#OscarsSoWhite” backlash of last year.

Latifah gave one of the evening’s most stirring speeches while accepting the award for most outstanding female performance in a TV movie or miniseries for HBO’s Bessie Smith tale “Bessie.”

“I hope that anyone out there who does not come in the package that people say you should, keep fighting for it,” said Latifah.

“Flip those rocks over. Keep pushing, keep turning, you can do it. You build your own boxes, not people. So knock that thing away and do you!”

Backstage, Latifah said diversity was good business: “Hopefully your business will continue to supply the demand that people are asking for. The people want it. Give it to the people.”

Aduba, accepting her second straight SAG Award for best actress in a comedy in “Orange Is the New Black,” didn’t address the topic straight on. But she praised creator Jenji Kohan for making “a show that reflects and represents so many people.”

For the third time, “Downton Abbey” won best ensemble in a drama series. Best actor in a TV comedy went to Jeffery Tambor for the acclaimed Amazon series “Transparent.” Kevin Spacey won his second SAG Award for “House of Cards,” another win for Netflix on the night.

The great comedian Carol Burnett accepted the SAG lifetime achievement award from presenters Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Recalling the uphill battle she faced, Burnett remembered being warned that “comedy variety is a man’s game.”

She then dramatically shook her head and mouthed: “No.”

Surveying the room, she concluded with a tug of the ear and her signature phrase: “I’m so glad we had this time together.”

AP’s Sandy Cohen in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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