rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

The police shooting death of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim: The city grieves with his family and we demand justice

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca in its summer fundraiser today for as little as $1 per month!

Sammy Yatim

Hello my fellow rabble rousers, 

I was in Trinity-Bellwoods Park in the early morning of Saturday the 27th of July. I was with some friends celebrating the launch of a new culinary venture when Constable James Forcillo of 14 Division shot 18-year-old Sammy Yatim at the corner of Bellwoods Ave. and Dundas West. Like most people in the park that night I heard the shots though I was too far away to know precisely what had happened. It was not until we had left the park on our bikes (and were nearly flattened by a speeding police car coming out of an alley) and met up with another friend did we lean that the police were the ones responsible.

They shot Sammy Yatim nine times and then for good measure they decided to taze him all while he was cornered in a streetcar. No matter what the circumstances there can be no justification for this. The city grieves with his family and we demand justice.

Police violence is nothing new for Toronto. There is a pending corner's inquest into the police shootings of Michael Eligon, Reyal Jardine-Douglas and Sylvia Klibingaitis, all of whom were killed between August 2010 and February 2012. In 1997 police officers from 14 Division killed Edmund Yu on a Toronto streetcar.

This kind of police violence is not limited to Toronto. There have been incidences of police violence across the country and rarely are they ever held to account. This is ultimately an indication that something is rotten in policing culture.

On Monday, July 29, I attended the vigil for Sammy Yatim and demonstration against police violence. I spoke to a number of people during the course of the march. To a person they were outraged by the actions of the police. Some knew Sammy personally, some were furious at this latest incidence of police brutality, and others joined the demonstration as they came out of their offices and felt compelled to join the march having, like most Torontonians, seen the footage taken by a citizen with a cell phone.

In the weeks since the shooting there has been much talk in the community about the effectivness of the SIU (Special Investigations Unit, they are called in to investigate the police in cases like this). The Ontario Ombudsman, André Marin, in response to previous instances of police brutality, issued a report with a series of recomendations to improve the SIU's response, which have yet to be implemeted. In the wake of the killing of Sammy Yatim, Marin has launched an investigation into police use of force guildlines and de-escalation tactics. He has, of course faced pushback from the police.

In a statement in response to the ombudsman's inquest Sammy Yatim's Family said:  "We are grateful that this investigation will further public dialogue on police procedures and acceptable de-escalation tactics, and that this inquiry will hopefully, finally, lead to the implementation, not just recommendation, of safe conflict resolution procedures."

However, it is clear that we need to collectivly keep up the preasure on both the police and the obudsman's office. In the past, police violence has slipped off the radar as new outrages pile up. We cannot allow this to happen again. Sammy Yatim's family deserves some measure of justice for their loss. It is up to all of us to make sure they get it. We need to make sure that collectively we keep the Toronto Police Services' feet to the fire.

Please remember that the Lynn Williams Activist toolkit is always looking for new content. If you notice anything that you think should be added to the archives be it a movement that we have yet to address, a historical moment that the community should be aware of, or a resource that would be helpful to your fellow community members please add it to the Toolkit! It is easy to post new articles or to comment on existing ones. The Activist Toolkit can only get better if we all work together to pool our collective knowledge…

Á la prochaine mes amis!

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.