We have all watched with increasing dismay and concern the treatment of Black Lives Matter- Toronto protesters and allies by Toronto Police Services. On the evening of March 21st, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Toronto police circled and ambushed peaceful protestors. Children, young women and men, trans people, disabled people and their friends were shoved, punched, and pushed on to the ground. Their materials were smashed, tents and personal belongings were taken, and a barrel of fire to keep them warm was extinguished with an unknown toxic waste.
The unprovoked police action on peaceful protesters raising their concerns about Anti-Black violence is unacceptable to us.
Black Torontonians and their allies were outside of Toronto Police Headquarters for 2 weeks of occupation to challenge anti-Black racism in our city. Like the many people who continue to resist, we share concerns about anti-Black State violence, excessive use of police force, erasure of Black cultural spaces, etc. The murder of Andrew Loku still haunts us, as is the decision of the SIU not to indict his killer reinforces the fact that Black lives are dispensable to the SIU and Toronto Police Services. The City of Toronto’s decision to impose undue restrictions on Afrofest, including limiting the award-winning festival to one day is appalling. Destruction of Black spaces is violence.
As civil society organizations, representing diverse communities and constituents, we condemn the Toronto Police’s excessive use of force against #BLMTOtentcity protesters.
We ask Mayor John Tory, Chief Mark Saunders, and Kathleen Wynne to agree to Black Lives Matter - Toronto’s demands, including:
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.
A condemnation of Toronto Police’s excessive use of force and ongoing intimidation tactics against Black Lives Matter Toronto protesters.
An overhaul of the province’s Special Investigations Unit, in consultation with families of victims of Police violence, the Black community, and the 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 and their allies outside Toronto Police Headquarters are not alone. The fight against Anti-Black racism is immediate and urgent, and we are calling on our policy makers to take action.