Death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet mobilizes thousands in Toronto

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Image: Regis Korchinski-Paquet/Facebook

"The violence we are experiencing globally is not okay, and will never be okay. If you're tired or annoyed of reading all of these posts about anti-Black racism, guess what? We're tired too. Tired of being a walking target and dying every single day," said Keosha Love, a speaker at the Justice for Regis protest in Toronto on Saturday.

She spoke in front of thousands of people who joined the march for 29-year-old Regis Korchinski-Paquet, who died last Wednesday after police were called to her home.

The death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet is yet another reminder of how police continue to fail our community. It's another reminder that we can't trust an institution that inherently views Black people as a threat, no matter the circumstances. It's another reminder that police aren't trained to be transparent with the people they serve; they're trained to protect their own first. 

According to a statement released by the Korchinski-Paquet family, police were called to 100 High Park in Toronto on May 27. They were called to help take their daughter, Regis, to a mental health facility as she was in crisis. There was an exchange between Regis and the officers in her 24th-floor apartment before she ended up dead on the ground.

Directly afterward, some family members posted on social media that Regis had been pushed or shoved by police. The Special Investigations Unit, a provincial police oversight agency, is investigating. 

"I request the public and communities wait for all of the facts regarding this case so that we can move forward once we establish exactly what happened that evening," said Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders in a news conference on Friday.

The Toronto protest was the culmination of another deadly season for Black people in North America. The deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Regis Korchinski-Paquet have rippled across the continent, with protests erupting in many major cities. This is because we are tired of watching Black death happen over and over again with no change to come. It doesn't get easier to process the grief, and hopelessness that follows after every video of a Black person dying at the hands of the police. 

The protests in Minneapolis are eerily similar to the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Missouri, demanding justice for Michael Brown who was shot and killed by the police. And Eric Garner in New York who also died with a knee on his neck years ago like George Floyd in Minnesota. Different times, and cities, but same cause of death: being a Black man in America. It's obvious now that we can't stand for anything less than justice. 

It seems that no matter how many revolutionary hashtags flood social media, or how many progressive folks get elected into government, or how many decades of unrest we endure, we still come back to square one. Racist police, one-sided news cycles, and no systemic changes are ever made. Even now, I'm not sure what will happen once the protests in Minneapolis come to an end. I can't say I have any faith the system will bring justice for Floyd, nor that we'll get any answers to what happened to Regis. What I do know is that we have to keep on fighting, and holding these institutions accountable to the communities they continue to fail. 

Lidia Abraha is a freelance journalist based in Toronto, whose work has appeared in VICE Canada, NOW Magazine, The Canadian Press and Exclaim! She is the recipient of rabble.ca's 2020 Jack Layton Journalism for Change Fellowship. Her work at rabble focuses on some of the issues most urgently affecting racialized and marginalized communities, notably racism in the criminal justice and policing system.

Image: Regis Korchinski-Paquet/Facebook

 
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