Sunday, March 27, 2016 

 

Canada News

The Big Pushback

Cops break up camp, action group vows to sue police

Blacklivesmatter, Toronto, Ontario/Submitted photos

 

Protestors show unity at the Toronto Police Station last week.

 

t approximately 9:30 pm March 21, Toronto Police officers surrounded and ambushed dozens of peaceful protestors who were participating in a Black Lives Matter action (#BLMTOtentcity). Without warning or order to disperse, the police formed a line around protestors and pushed through.

 

Early reports include people being punched, shoved, slammed to the ground, and physically assaulted in other ways by officers. The crowd was composed of young people, women, children, and some elders.

"They came out of nowhere. We formed a circle around a fire and were chanting, when all of a sudden a number of siren cars appeared," said Yasmin Mumed, one of the protestors attacked. "We were distracted for a second and before I could turn my head, I heard and saw over a dozen cops run up and start to push us around. I was then dragged and pushed on the ground. I am a 5 foot 6 woman, who poses no physical threat to any of them. If this was not an example of excessive use of force, I don't know what was."

Toronto Police has seized the opportunity to tear down and confiscate tents, food and water stations, signs, and community member's personal items, including cell phones and wallets.

"When we talk about police violence, we are referring to a system that grants officers absolute permission to inflict violence on people like us," says Yusra Khogali an organizer with Black Lives Matter - Toronto. "It is it ironic that as we are out here protesting police abuse of power, the police prove to us just how careless they are for maintaining peace and trust within the community. Mayor Tory and Chief Saunders, these acts of violence are on you. Your silence and inaction leads to violence. Our bruises and blood are on your hands. You should be ashamed of yourself."



Activists spent over 24 hours outside Toronto Police Services Headquarters in protest over recent cases of anti-Black racism, including a number of incidents of police's use of excessive force on Black community members. Yesterday, hundreds of community members came to protest and denounce the Special Investigation Unit's decision not to indict the officers who killed Andrew Loku, the city's decision to shrink Afrofest, and the recent police killing of Alex Wettlaufer.

 

Black Lives Matter-Toronto have delivered these demands to the Mayor John Tory and Police Chief Mark Saunders:

The immediate release of the name(s) of the officer(s) who killed Andrew Loku & Jermaine Carby.
Charges to be laid against the officers who killed Mr. Loku.
The immediate and public release of any video footage from the apartment complex where Andrew Loku was murdered.
Apology to the family of Andrew Loku and monetary compensation.
A review of the Special Investigations Unit, with adequate consultation from families victimized by police violence.
A reversal to all city-mandated changes imposed on Afrofest, including its restoration to a 2-day festival

 

five days later...

 

lack activists in Toronto are giving themselves a collective two snaps for continuing to speak truth to power about anti-Black racism even in the face of police brutality.

 

Thursday, activists camping out at Police Headquarters announced that legal action would be taken against Toronto Police Service (TPS) for violating Ms. Jean Montaque's Charter rights. The TPS illegally entered and searched the Black grandmother's home without a warrant and terrorized her family.

This is the fifth day of #BLMTOTentCity, and activists have been highlighting various forms of anti-Black racism in the city. The TPS has responded by taking activists' sources of heat and shelter in freezing temperatures. The activists are also being subjected to 24-hour surveillance and were brutally attacked by police on the second night of their protest.

"Black Toronto, get your life, because we exhibiting some truly raucous savagery out here," said Alexandria Williams, Black Lives Matter Toronto Co-Founder. "They keep thinking they're wearing us down with these wack tactics. But they just strengthening our resolve."

In addition to the lawsuit announced today, Black Lives Matter Toronto has announced an outdoor bashment to occur at 10:00 p.m. in celebration of 100 hours of protest and the restoration of Afrofest to a two-day festival.

"These waste politicians don't even have the courage to face us, though," said Yusra Khogali, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto. "But we don't need them to celebrate our beautiful Blackness. Black fam of Toronto, come through at 10:00 p.m. It's about to get lit."

Black Lives Matter Toronto released these demands related to the #BLMTOTentCity action:

The immediate release of the name(s) of the officer(s) who killed Andrew Loku
Charges to be laid against the officers who killed Mr. Loku.
The immediate and public release of any video footage from the apartment complex where Andrew Loku was murdered.
The adoption of the African Canadian Legal Clinic's demand for a coroner's inquest into the death of Andrew Loku.
An overhaul of the province's Special Investigations Unit, in consultation with families of victims of Police violence, the Black community, and community at large.
A commitment to the full elimination of carding, including: the deletion of all previously recorded data, reframing of regulations to prohibitions, consistent implementation policy amongst different police boards, and concrete disciplinary measures for officers who continue to card.
The immediate release of the name(s) of the officer who killed Alex Wettlaufer, and charges to be laid accordingly.

Black Lives Matter-Toronto is the Toronto chapter of the ?#?BlackLivesMatter network, an international organization and movement fighting anti-Black racism and state-sanctioned violence.

 

 

in writing...
 

ver 100 prominent artists and community leaders have released an open letter in support of the ongoing Black Lives Matter - Toronto protests: #BLMTOtentcity. The letter is representative of a diverse group of artists and cultural producers who are concerned with anti-Black racism, police violence, and the attack on Black lives by the City and the Province.

"Artists and activists, often one in the same, have been fighting together here for many decades," says visual artist and community activist Syrus Marcus Ware. "And this work continues today! The BLMTOTentCity has been a beautiful creative space of collective resistance."

Black Torontonians and their allies are outside of Toronto Police Headquarters right now and have been since Saturday, March 19th to challenge anti-Black racism in our city. Sparked by the SIU's decision not to indict the officer who killed Andrew Loku, #BLMTOtentcity is resisting anti-Black violence from the City and the Province. #BLMTOtentcity draws our attention to the ways that Black lives are dispensable to Toronto Police Services, the inefficiencies of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the uselessness of the carding regulations, and all the ways that our Black people continue to face violence in our communities.

"I am inspired by the artists, activists and leaders within the Black Lives Matter Toronto Coalition," says filmmaker Min Sook Lee. "They are the civil rights leaders of today. They are taking up space to demand justice that is long overdue."

Together, they call on the Mayor of Toronto, Chief of Police Mark Saunders, and Premiere Kathleen Wynne to adopt Black Lives Matter - Toronto's demands, including:

Transparency and the release of critical information concerning the shootings of Alex Wettlaufer, Andrew Loku and Jermaine Carby.
Public release of the identities of the officers responsible for these shootings.
The release of video footage from the building where Loku was killed.
A review of the Special Investigations Unit with adequate consultation from families victimized by police violence and affected communities.

Dub poet, spoken word artist, and writer Lillian Allen on #BLMTOtentcity: "It is heart warming these young people taking up the work that we have dedicated our lives to here in this city and country."

The open letter is signed by over 100 signatories including: Artistic Director of The Watah Theatre d'bi.young anitafrika, Naomi Klein, Amanda Parris, John Greyson, Artistic Director for Obsidian Theatre Company Phillip Akin, Dionne Brand, Naomi Campbell of the Luminato Festival, Artistic Director of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre Evalyn Parry, Coach House Books Editorial Director Alana Wilcox, LAL's Rosina Kazi and Nicholas Murray, Independent artist & Chairperson of the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter (CCNCTO) Alvis Choi, Canadian actress Sarah Polley, director and producer Gein Wong, Artistic Director of Factory Theatre Nina Lee Aquino, Artistic Director of The Theatre Centre Franco Boni, Artistic Director of Native Earth Performing Arts Ryan Cunningham, and more.

 



Artists for Black Lives Matter is a loose coalition of artists, activists, and community leaders working in solidarity with Black Lives Matter - Toronto. Their open letter can be found here: www.artistsforblmto.wordpress.com

Black Lives Matter-Toronto is the Toronto chapter of #BlackLivesMatter, an international organization and movement fighting anti-Black racism all over the world.

 

 

 

 

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