Black Lives Matter mobilization in Toronto
Jordyn Samuels, a supporter of Black Lives Matter Toronto and creator of Journeys in Equity, an organization that promotes anti-oppression and equity through workshops, told me about a man who had come by earlier that day to share some of his artworks with the group.
"They were paintings of people who had died from police brutality 15 years ago. And nothing has changed."
Those who camped out overnight are reeling from the violent confrontation that occurred with police on Monday night when they forcefully extinguished a fire that had been created on Sunday by indigenous elders to keep protesters warm, and to serve as a point of connection and building.
"It was a pretty intense interaction. People had fallen, they were dragged, they were pushed to the side, shoved very violently and it was jarring," said Anthony Morgan, a human rights attorney who along with eight other legal professionals are present as observers. "There were children involved, also elderly folks. This happened on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and it's absolutely appalling. Some people made statements and official complaints to the police."
In her essay “There is No Hierarchy of Oppressions,” black lesbian feminist poet Audre Lorde wrote: “I have learned that oppression and the intolerance of difference come in all shapes and sizes and colors and sexualities; and that among those of us who share the goals of liberation and a workable future for our children, there can be no hierarchies of oppression.”
Around the world, women’s movements have long recognized the wisdom of that thought, which emphasizes the way social movements benefit by recognizing the intersections between different forms of oppression. In their letter “Women for Women in Ferguson,” the National Domestic Workers Alliance—a network of organizations representing nannies, home care workers, and housekeepers—stood in solidarity with the women of Ferguson, Missouri, who were affected by police brutality.
“As domestic workers, as women, we know that dignity is everyone’s issue and justice is everyone’s hope,” the letter reads. “We organize to create a world where every single one of us, domestic workers, black teens, immigrant children, aging grandparents—all of us—are treated with respect and dignity.”
In the face of growing corporate power, land grabs, economic injustice, and climate change, women’s movements offer a paradigm shift. They have redefined leadership and development models, connected the dots between issues and oppression, prioritized collective power and movement-building, and critically examined how issues of gender, race, caste, class, sexuality, and ability disproportionately exclude and marginalize.
“People of color within LGBTQ movements; girls of color in the fight against the school-to-prison pipeline; women within immigration movements; trans women within feminist movements; and people with disabilities fighting police abuse—all face vulnerabilities that reflect the intersections of racism, sexism, class oppression, transphobia, ableism, and more,” wrote Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw, executive director of the African American Policy Forum, in a recent opinion piece. “Intersectionality has given many advocates a way to frame their circumstances and to fight for their visibility and inclusion.”
Women of color have unleashed powerful media campaigns and actions by connecting identity and its relationship with structural racism and institutional power. #DalitWomenFight, a powerful media initiative, links sexual violence faced by Dalit women with the deeply entrenched and institutionalized structure of caste in India. And in the United States, evocative actions taken by the #SayHerName campaign highlight how police brutality disproportionately affects black women....
There is no way to hold police accountable if they can harm us and remain anonymous
The hundreds of demonstrators who have been holding space in front of Toronto police headquarters since Sunday night never met Andrew Loku. Yet for four days, they’ve been calling out the name of the 45-year-old black father of five who was shot and killed by Toronto police last summer. The protestors, who are overwhelmingly black, heard the decision last week by the Special Investigations Unit not to criminally charge the officer who killed Loku, and have responded with outrage and resolve. They want justice and accountability from the police, for Loku and the series of black people who have died at the hands of police in recent years.
Nothing can return Loku to his family, or erase the message of indifference to black life that has been communicated through the decision not to charge his killer. But the significance of this week’s resolute public demonstration is clear: black people in this city know we are under attack, and will stand our ground until we see real change in policing. That change can begin when police break their silence and name the police officer who shot and killed Loku.
The SIU, which investigates serious injuries, deaths and sexual assaults involving Ontario’s police, is not accountable to the public. The agency took eight months to investigate Loku’s death on July 5, 2015, then released a 700-word report clearing the subject officer who fired two shots into Loku’s chest....
The coalition was joined by many other local community groups outside Toronto Police headquarters
short video message
Deeply entrenched systems of discrimination make the search for housing much more difficult for many marginalized groups including people with disabilities, people who are low income or receive social assistance, single parents, new immigrants, members of LGBTQ2 communities, people with criminal records, and people transitioning out of homelessness or incarceration. The pressure is also felt racialized people, even middle-class and professional workers.
Studies have shown that along with new immigrants and people of African decent, Indigenous people experience particularly high rates of housing discrimination in Canada, a country built on dispossession of land through violence and fraudulent treaty processes.
According to the Toronto's Housing and Homelessness Services, while only 1 per cent of Toronto's population self-identifies as Indigenous, Indigenous people make up 33 per cent of the outdoor homeless population. This number may even be deceptively low due to the difficulty of collecting reliable census data on homeless populations....
Statement by Unifor:
Unifor stands in solidarity with the community movement Black Lives Matter as it continues to resist, speak out and raise awareness about racism and its impact on the lives of Black people.
If all lives are to matter equally, we must not pretend that there is not a specific problem faced by the Black community. We must recognize that violence, discrimination and racism disproportionately impact members of the Black community, First Nations people and other people of colour. We must act in concert to demand structural change to practices and systems that unfairly target, disadvantage and oppress members of these communities.
The recent aggressive and unnecessarily confrontational actions of the Toronto Police Services in dismantling Black Lives Matter’s peaceful protest speaks to the need for immediate change. When communities don’t believe that justice works for them, when they feel that those enforcing law and order are not doing it for them, but against them, and when police actions reinforce the idea that Black lives matter less, we have a badly broken system.
Unifor, along with its allies, calls on Chief Mark Saunders, Mayor John Tory and Premier Kathleen Wynne to do their part. If those in power would take immediate action and enforce the carding ban, stop supporting the targeting of people of colour and begin listening to the many voices who are demanding systemic change, they would send a message that Black Lives really do Matter.
Transformational change will take collective and concerted effort and time, but trade unionists know that it is work that must be done if solidarity and social justice are to have real meaning. The struggle of Black Lives Matter is a struggle for recognition and for social progress. It is a struggle that Unifor unreservedly supports. Our union will continue to work with Black Lives Matter, other like-minded communities, social justice advocates and activists, and with governments to end the scourge of racial discrimination and build a more equitable and just world in which every individual afforded security and opportunity.
Black Lives Matter demonstrators packed up #BLMTOtentcity on Monday and issued a 300-hour deadline for decision-makers to respond to the group’s demands — about the same length of time the sit-in protest lasted.
As the occupation came to an end, organizers stressed this was not the end of their protest.
“Don’t think just because we’re gone, we’re finished,” one of the group’s co-founders Alexandria Williams told supporters rallying at the encampment site.
“You know it’s going to come back, and you know we’re coming back stronger every single time.”
Organizers declined to elaborate on what the group’s next action might look like.
“That action will look like how it will look like,” Yusra Khogali told the Star.
Within the next 300 hours, or 12 and a half days, the group is demanding public meetings with Mayor John Tory, police Chief Mark Saunders and Premier Kathleen Wynne, who briefly met with protesters outside Queen’s Park.....
..great video posted on apr 3rd at real news. the lead up to today's anouncement in the above post.
BLM action gains traction among municipal politicians while longtime community activists tell The Real News about the continuity of Black struggles in Toronto
I think this is worth a read. http://www.thestar.com/news/crime/2016/04/07/andrew-loku-inquest-urged-by-canadian-mental-health-association.html
Steve Lurie, ED of the CMHA along with the president of the board of directors went public with the request, and were also on CITY News. I know Steve pretty well, and he is a very thoughtful and deliberative person (as well as a nice guy) who would not take such an unusual public stance, possibly putting the credibility of the agency on the line, without having all his ducks in a row.
It says in the article that this is CMHA housing. Without revealing confidences, I can say the various support people from CMHA and similar involved agencies were all over the place pretty quickly. About all I can say that there exists a credible narrative which differs so markedly from the SIU report that they could not both be true. I know who I believe. I also wish I could say more. I have a feeling that this is going to unravel for the police.
“Allah, give me the strength not to cuss/kill these men and white folks out here today. Plz plz plz”.
It was supposed to have been the tweet that could almost have stopped the earth from rotating.
The tweet that could be spun, twisted and manipulated by mainstream media into the distraction that would make the city forget that, on July 5, 2015, Andrew Loku, a 45-year-old father of five with a history of mental illness, was shot dead by Toronto police, only minutes after they arrived on the scene.
The BLMTO co-founder added that the same man has effectively managed to manipulate media outlets to switch the story.
She was referring to Jerry Agar, the Newstalk 1010 reporter, who discovered the tweet on Yusra Khogali’s twitter account and broke the story.
Despite repeated attempts by veteran news reporter Lee, to get Hudson to switch the narrative from the police killings of Andrew Loku and Jermaine Anthony Carby and, even with obvious frustration on her face, she was not able to move Hudson from the original narrative of the disproportionate levels of police violence against the Black community.
Was Sandy Hudson supposed to break down under the pressure of the veteran reporter? Was she supposed to run away crying, taking with her the credibility of Black Lives Matter–Toronto?
I don’t have an answer to those questions but, what I am confident of, is that, notwithstanding the young men on the executive of BLMTO on this day, mainstream media clearly underestimated the strength of the Black women who lead the Black Lives Matter–Toronto coalition....
The courageous, fearless, committed-to-the-cause women of Black Lives Matter-Toronto. Photo credit: BLMTO.