The head of a private security firm recently hired to patrol downtown Oshawa, Ont., is facing backlash relating to a number of posts circulating on social media.
Screenshots obtained by Global News show Andrew Clarke, president of CDN Protection Ltd., allegedly making hateful comments on Facebook posts, one of which reads: “I don’t want a bunch of Syrians here…not because they’re Arab, not because they’re Muslim, but because they’re Syrian.”
According to the city councillors, the majority of the posts were made a decade ago.
“A couple of community members had started sending me files full of screenshots, like years worth of social media screenshots on Andrew,” said community activist Shailene Panylo.
Panylo notified Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter’s office of the content on June 12, sending them the files three days after the city passed a motion to hire CDN Protection for a three-month contract.
“Do I think that an independent private company should be policing bodies in downtown Oshawa that are ultimately vulnerable and fit into some of these groups that he was talking about or posting about?” Panylo said.
“No, I don’t.”
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City councillor Derek Giberson says members of council reviewed the files on June 19 and made a decision to move forward with the contract.
“The person in the posts is not the person we’ve been working with now,” Giberson said.
“I think we judge people on the merits of who they are now, and if they’ve evolved since other things, then that’s how we need to proceed.”
Clarke has also responded in the form of a statement to Global News, which reads in part, “I have been falsely accused of being ‘a person with ties to white supremacists.’”
He goes on to say, “for all of the screenshots that these activists selected from my social media accounts and the social media accounts of my business, they omitted to publish screenshots which would reveal the diverse backgrounds of guards at CDN Protection Ltd., or of my long-term domestic partner who is of South Asian descent.”
In addition to his comments on Facebook, Clarke is also facing criticism for allegedly taking photos of people who appear to have been in distress.
Christeen Thornton, who works with unsheltered individuals in the community, says she was hurt when she saw the photos.
“If those people were only known by those photos, that would impact them in every way.”
“That would impact their ability to get a job, perhaps. What if they had children and [child protective services] happened to come across these images?”
Clarke also addressed the matter in his statement, saying, “I will refrain from publicly commenting on this and instead wait to respond in the appropriate legal forum.”
Global News also reached out to Mayor Dan Carter but was told he was not available Wednesday.
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