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Black Lives Matter Toronto (BLMT) folded camp yesterday after having a brief exchange with Ontario Premier, Kathleen Wynne outside the provincial legislature.
The meeting happened after BLMT activists marched on the Ontario legislature Monday where she told the crowd of about one hundred demonstrators that she felt strongly about combatting racism and agreed to set up a meeting with them. Demonstrators declared that they would return to the occupation if they did not meet with Wynne and her team within a week.
They had been occupying Toronto Police Services headquarters at 40 College street in Toronto for two weeks, with days and nights of cold, wet weather.
Police removed their tents, put out their small warming fire and cut off power to the demonstrators, all the while monitoring them 24/7.
Despite this proximity, demonstrators claimed that they were being ignored by the police chief, Mark Saunders. Also criticized were Toronto municipal politicians for ignoring the encampment.
Saunders is the first black police chief in Toronto’s history, but posters in full display at police headquarter claimed, “FIRST BLACK POLICE CHIEF…TO ACT LIKE ALL THE WHITE ONES.”
On their first night when demonstrators clashed with police over the tents and fire, police would tweet out, “.@TPS52Div officers @TorontoPolice HQ for #BLMTOtentcity. Removal of tents & fire required for safety. Peaceful protests may continue ^CdK”
Video of the clash can be seen here.
One of the demands was to reinstate Afrofest to its former two day festival status, which was implemented.
Another demand by BLMT was for Toronto police to release the name of the officer who shot Andrew Loku. Loku was shot by police on July 5, 2015, when he refused to comply with demands to drop the hammer he was carrying. The Special Investigative Unit (SIU) had ruled the shooting as, “justifiable force.” This demands remains unfulfilled.
At a BLMT rally on April 1, 2016, David Coombs took a second photo essay of the camp which can be viewed here.
*Photo by David Coombs