As the colourful costumes and is land rhythms of Caribana fade from memory, some local activists are wondering why the party ended up as footage in police video archives.
Along with the 600 boys and girls in blue surveilling the bash last weekend were an undisclosed number of their Big Brothers - closed-circuit video cameras. These, police spokespeople say, weren't following folks along the parade route, but were installed to monitor the Yonge-Dundas Square area to prevent a repeat of last summer's shooting of 21-year-old Dwayne Taylor at the street festival.
But some groups are convinced police filming reflected their wary attitude toward the festival.
"We look at this as another case of racial profiling,' says Black Youth Taking Action founder Nkem Anizor. "They weren't doing this during Pride weekend or the World Cup. If police are advertising ahead of time that they're expecting problems, it creates a hostile environment. They expect the worst from the black community, yet we bring in the most money.'
Police Services Board member Hamlin Grange, however, says videotaping the 17,000 people jammed onto Yonge Saturday night wasn't an issue of profiling but of security. The videotaping, he says, was a pilot project - and probably a successful one, considering there was only one gun-related incident the entire night.
"Anything we can do to make people in the downtown core feel safer we should do,' says Grange. "Whether it makes the environment safer, no matter if it's at Caribana, the Santa Claus parade or Gay Pride, things have changed in this city and I think we need to give a level of comfort and safety for people.'
On the other hand, this year's Pride parade gathered about a million viewers, more than showed up at Caribana this year, yet no cameras monitored Pride events. Pride organizers work with police and have trained volunteer security people to handle crowds.
According to police Deputy Chief Tony Warr, cameras weren't used at Pride because "we just hadn't got to that stage yet. We'll probably consider it for next year. It wasn't the [Caribana] parade we had the cameras on, it was the Yonge Street activities."
The Canadian Race Relations Foundation says it's alarming that people are willing to give up their privacy so casually, but won't make a big deal out of the cameras unless they're put in specific black-concentrated areas such as Jane and Finch.
"It's disconcerting that people are so easy about accommodating cameras in public places,' says foundation spokesperson Patrick G. Hunter, "but [the installation of cameras at YongeDundas Square] can't really be targeted as being suspicious of one community over another.'
Criminal lawyer Paul Copeland contends that the cameras might help police get evidence if a crime is committed, as it helped London police last summer with the subway bombings, but it probably won't prevent crime from happening in the first place.
"I don't know how much difference cameras actually make in regard to people who are wacky enough to shoot people,' says Copeland.