Given the tendency to deny the existence of systemic racism, it's perhaps not surprising that the only folks in the police-soccer affair to raise the issue are Chilean.
While it may be too early to draw any definitive conclusions about why the police felt it necessary to use electric shock guns, pepper spray and handcuffs against Chilean soccer players, there is every reason to believe race played a role.
Local latinos have certainly felt the sting of racial profiling. You only have to recall the poster of five Latino men put up in the Bloor subway in 1999 by the Toronto Police Association with the caption "Help fight crime by electing candidates prepared to take on the drug pushers, the pimps and racists.'
Part of the racial profiling phenomenon is overreacting to a situation of perceived danger when dealing with racialized individuals.
Some might respond that the cops' actions weren't motivated by race, but instead resulted from their ignorance of the passion surrounding soccer. (Most soccer violence involves fans, not players.)
It might also be argued by those who followed the RCMP at the 1997 APEC protests in Vancouver that police have also been known to overreact when dealing with whites.
But the fact of the matter is that when we place individual incidents of excessive force by the police in context, the evidence reveals that race does matter. Recently, Justice Sidney Linden in the Ipperwash Inquiry concluded that racism and cultural insensitivity played a role in the OPP response that led to the death of Dudley George.
Other high-profile cases include the shooting deaths of J.J. Harper in Winnipeg, Marcellus Francois and Anthony Griffin in Montreal and Wade Lawson in Toronto. In addition, professor Scot Wortley's analysis of Special Investigations Unit data for the Ipperwash Inquiry revealed that African Canadians and Aboriginals in Ontario are more likely to be at the receiving end of a police bullet or baton than whites.
This means it's essential that race be addressed in any investigation by the police, the Human Rights Commission or any other body set up to review this incident. After all, if this kind of force is used in the context of a soccer match, it likely reflects how the police are responding to racialized individuals and communities in general.
David Tanovich is an associate professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Windsor, and author of The Colour Of Justice: Policing Race In Canada, published by Irwin Law.