Nov 15, 2011
An Ontario human rights lawyer alleges the City of Windsor has some serious issues with racism. And, he has video evidence he says proves it.
Toronto-based lawyer Selwyn Pieters was in Windsor last week representing a client during a human rights tribunal. His client, Alan Shreve, is a city employee who alleges racist comments were regularly made regularly at work in the public works department.
While at the city’s 400 Building last week, the lawyer says he found proof to support his client’s claims.
Using his smartphone, Pieters filmed racial slurs and Swastikas scrawled on a wall inside a washroom. And that’s when things got ugly.
A shaky video recording Pieters posted to Youtube shows Pieters and a city staffer arguing about how the situation should be resolved. In the video, Pieters demands a city manager while the staff member threatens to call police.
“I saw the same offensive slurs that Mr. Shreve complained about,” PIeters said in a phone interview with CBC News. “If what I’ve seen at city hall is reflective of how the city deals with these issues then there’s a serious problem with the City of Windsor in terms of how it deals with racism.”
City investigating lawyer’s claims
Windsor’s chief administrative officers disputes the lawyer’s claim but says his allegations and the confrontation is under investigation.
“It’s not quite complete yet because there are some witnesses that we haven’t been able to interview because they were away,” Helga Reidel said.
The graffiti was removed from the stall and the facility manager says the washrooms are cleaned three times daily. A cleaning log hangs on the washroom wall. And the city says it has painters on staff to immediately remove any unwanted markings.
Pieters says he doubts the graffiti he saw was fresh and feels his reaction was entirely appropriate.
“Let me tell you this, and let me tell you this very directly, where racism manifests itself, people have to challenge it. I don’t care what the perception of other people (is), what was in that bathroom is unacceptable.”
Layers calls city call ‘toxic and hostile’
Pieters has demanded an apology from the city.
He’s also seeking a change of venue when the human rights tribunal case resumes later this year. He says he feels city hall is a toxic and hostile environment and doesn’t want to return.
The Windsor Police are also investigating the incident Pieters filmed but they will not proceed until the city has concluded its investigation.