I fine this sad in our society that makes up Canada.

TORONTO (CP) - As the city reeled from the senseless killing of a teenaged girl in a year marked by gun violence, a dozen armed plainclothes police officers searching for her killer one evening last week took down a young black man.


Jason Bogle says the officers yanked open the door of his Lexus, in which he sat parked on a street in the city's west end, and accused him of having drugs and guns.

But they were wrong.

Bogle says he was unarmed and had no illegal substances. A Toronto lawyer, he had just finished celebrating his 26th birthday and was dropping off his girlfriend, who happens to be white.

"You don't solve a tragedy by making a bigger social problem," said Jason Bogle, who was left angry and humiliated by the incident.

"It doesn't make the city safer."

The Boxing Day killing of 15-year-old Jane Creba as two groups of youths exchanged gunfire on Yonge Street in the heart of Toronto's shopping district incident has produced an increasingly hysterical climate against young black men, some black leaders say.

While religious leaders prayed Monday outside City Hall for God to intervene, others have called for tougher sentences on gun crimes.

Last August, black city Coun. Michael Thompson even suggested police "target" young black men, who made up the bulk of the city's 52 gun homicide victims last year, for random searches.

Bogle, a member of the Black Association of Law Enforcers, believes that's exactly what happened to him.

After he dropped the names of ranking officers he knows, he says police apologized for what they described as a case of mistaken identity.

"(The senior officer) said, 'Well, you can see given the current climate and what happened why we have to do our jobs like this'," said Bogle, who is planning to sue the force.

No one with the Toronto Police Service was available Monday to comment on Bogle's unproven allegations.

Black activist and lawyer Selwyn Pieters said the incident highlights an uncomfortable tension being experienced by black residents of Toronto.

"The city is getting very tense," Pieters said.

In an e-mail to Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, Pieters said police must take pains not to further alienate an already marginalized community if they want co-operation in combating the scourge of violence.

"It does more harm than good to the crime-fighting efforts of the police as the same people who should be enlisted to assist are those who are being alienated by feeling like they are under the gun," Pieters wrote.

Black leaders said stemming the illegal trade in firearms may offer part of a solution to the violence but the real battle is with the underlying social causes.

Racism, they said, is depriving young blacks of the opportunities other Canadians take for granted and the result is poverty and feelings of hopelessness about the future.

"We need to look at what is it that society needs to do to provide for all of our young people so that there are viable options," said Sandra Carnegie-Douglas, president of the Jamaican-Canadian Association.

"The kind of lifestyle that we don't want them to become involved in (must not) become their only option."

For example, black leaders have long complained about Ontario's Safe Schools Act under which a disproportionate number of black students have been suspended or expelled.

"The drug dealers and gang members are waiting for these teenagers," said Pieters.

Critics also say tougher law-order measures, as Conservative Leader Stephen Harper again called for Monday, won't make the streets any safer.

Young African-Canadians are already being jailed in increasing numbers, they say.

"That still has not stemmed the violence," said Carnegie-Douglas.

"In fact, it's escalating."