An American citizen applied for asylum in Canada after arriving in Vancouver in September for a vacation because he said he fears that police in the United States will kill him because he is black.
According to public broadcaster CBC, Kyle Canty, 30, said during an Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) hearing on October 23: ‘I’m in fear of my life because I’m black… This is a well-rounded fear’.
He cited the police shooting of Michael Brown in Missouri and the death of Eric Garner in New York City at the hands of cops as examples of US police exterminating black people ‘at an alarming rate’.
Canty turned in a significant amount of evidence including media reports and videos of interactions with police in six US states where he lived before coming to Canada, an IRB spokeswoman said.
He was arrested for trespass in Salem, Oregon, after he spent two hours talking on the phone and using free Wi-Fi at a bus stop, but said he was harassed or targeted by police because of his race.
‘I got bothered because I’m black,’ he said.
‘This is a history of false arrest. My name is ruined because of the false arrest.’
The asylum seeker, who is living in a homeless shelter, represented himself at the IRB hearing.
Though he was commended by the board for presenting a strong case, Canty faces an uphill battle to stay in Canada as only a handful of US citizens are granted asylum in the country each year.
Melissa Anderson of the IRB said a decision regarding Canty’s application would be reached in the next few weeks, according to the Daily Beast.
She said: ‘For us, every case is unique.
‘Refugee protection and refugee discrimination, this is a complex issue.’
There has been a heightened focus on police brutality in the US after a string of incidents – some deadly – involving law enforcement officials and African Americans.
The latest incident involved a white police officer who was filmed manhandling a disruptive black female student in a high school in South Carolina.
An estimated 200 war resisters fled to Canada during the Iraq conflict and were sent home after their claims were rejected, or now live underground.
Canada previously welcomed tens of thousands of American draft dodgers during the Vietnam War era.
But the Immigration and Refugee Board has said in a decision supported by the federal court that US asylum seekers are not conventional refugees under UN High Commissioner for Refugees rules, nor in need of protection.
Accordingly, their refugee claims have been denied.