Prominent members of the Black community have come out on social media sharing their stories of harassment, saying that they're being targeted.
Last weekend, Wilfrid Laurier University Professor Ciann Wilson tweeted out about her recent experiences, while alleging that vocal BIPOC leaders in Waterloo Region were being watched and followed by police and white supremacist groups.
She vowed to publicly document her experience from there on, prompting others to weigh in as well.
In Wilson's case, she had found that her car had been rummaged through. She tells 570 NEWS it felt rather calculated given that it happened around 1 a.m. when she arrived home. Her car has an automatic lock that activates when she exits the car, leaving a very brief window of opportunity to get in. The next morning she found all her papers been splayed out all over the passenger seat, outside where it would normally be stored.
"My car locks within two-minutes of me exiting it, so within two-minutes someone had watched me exiting my car at 1 a.m., and entered my car before it could auto-lock," she said. "So that's quite an intentional thing, when you really think about just the manoeuvring that has to go into that."
Calling her partner, she asked him if he had been in the car. He had not, but said that he had found a Fitbit near the driver-side door of his car that morning.
As a member of the African, Caribbean and Black Network of Waterloo Region (ACB Network), she spoke with other Black leaders about what happened. Hearing how others were going through similar experiences, she felt it was important to speak up and encourage others to publicly document what they've been going through.
"So for me, that is the only resolve that we have because we can't go to police to solve our issues; the police are more violent than they're not, and so the only solution really, is to publicly, you know actually display what is happening, and not doing that in silence, and that's part of the reason that I went forth and said what I said on Twitter. I don't think it is fair for us to stay silent, and I don't think it's wise either, because it's not like this violence is going to stop. We actually watched it escalate in the past few weeks, and so it's best to actually start publicly talking about it."
Local Black resident Fitsum Areguy responded to the thread, saying his parents were looking to move out of Kitchener. He says "white strangers have been knocking on their door", and "hanging around the house." In one case, bags of urine were thrown over their fence into the backyard. They are looking to move as a result.
Meanwhile Teneile Warren, also with the ACB Network, tweeted about how she's been receiving "strange" calls lately and even found a stranger hanging around her driveway. Speaking with 570 NEWS, she says police have not been notified either because in one case she alleges that a police cruiser had been following her for 15 minutes as she was driving home.
Speaking with other Black leaders in the community, Warren says her experiences felt less random and more calculated.
For the past few months, Wilson and others have been part of the call behind defunding the police, and the funding of community initiatives to address inequities in the region. She says it would at least address the over-surveilance of Black communities by police that she says is part of the harassment they've been facing.
This also highlights the rift between the Black community and Regional police, with many echoing that sentiment of not getting police involved.
Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS), on their part, responded to the tweet as well, calling Wilson's allegation "disturbing and unacceptable to WRPS and our entire community. Any misconduct or unprofessional behaviour by police can be reported directly to the OIPRD."
However, Wilson was none too pleased with that response. Her own dealing with the OIPRD (Office of the Independent Police Review Director) only led to a "stern talking to" and the investigator stopped returning her calls.
"It's a investigator often from the very unit that the police officer is from, right. That is doing the investigation. They happen to be a senior officer mind you, but none the less, you're asking the police to investigate the police, and we know the stats on that."
Recently, WRPS reported that Black people in the region were disproportionately the subject in intelligence notes. It plans on hiring a pair of academics to analyze why there is a racial bias in their reports.