Opening Statement



Monday, 4 April 2016

BLM TO: SIU City Hall Protest!

More pix, videos + news links to follow ...


On Friday April 1st, Toronto City Hall unanimously approved Motion MM17.32, forwarded by Councillors Mike Layton, and seconded by Krystan Wong-Tang and Gord Perks to:
Request of the Province and the Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism to ensure Police Services and Investigations are Fair and Transparent.
Recommendations
City Council request the Premier, the Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism and the new Anti-Racism Directorate, the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, and the Ontario Civilian Police Commission to review the following with an ant-black racism and anti-racism lens:
a] the manner in which police services are provided within the City of Toronto and
b] the mandate, procedures and outcomes of the Special Investigation unit [SIU] with respect to the treatment of cases that involve victims from racialized communities
and further that such reviews include public consultation.
Vote: Unanimously Approved
Absent for the Vote: Councillors ie, Greb, Mammoliti, Moeser, Pasternak and Robinson

I watched the proceeding while sitting beside the BLM TO protesters in the city council hall chamber. Mayor John Tory wandered about. He stopped to sit and chat with a school trip seated nearby. However, at no time did I observe our mayor personally greet nor approach the BLM TO members in attendance. 

After the vote, protesters held up banner paper explaining their demands for him to read. They expressed concern that Mayor Tory refuses to attend a BLM TO community meeting to discuss black racism issues. 

Security immediately told them to take down their signs, then began removing them by force. A cordon was formed to escort the protesters out of the council chamber. The first stop occurred at the tight, bottle neck that formed at the crowded elevator doors. Further protest stops then followed throughout BLM TO's lengthy expulsion as they made their way out.



The protest made its way around the upper rotunda offices, twice stopping outside the Mayors Office, in a further attempt to meet. The protest then winded across the lower rotunda foyer public service area, before spilling out onto Nathan Phillips Square. At no time did the protesters engage in any violence, though they were of course understandably loud and boisterous.

High spirited speeches were delivered by BLMO TO organizers at each stop followed by a brief press scrum. Each speech dealt with a specific BLM TO anti black racism protest theme. These included demands for a transparent investigation into the police shooting of Andrew Loku,  grass root community meetings with Mayor Tory and Premier Wynne, their lawsuit into the forcible removal of BLM TO Tent City from outside Toronto Police Headquarters on College St., and Trans Black Rights

City hall media largely stood about looking dumbfounded, asking dull, pedestrian questions. Seemed more concerned with the loud, excited brouhaha itself, rather than with what was being said. 

Besides helping out with the protest chants and responses in solidarity with BLM TO, I elbowed my way in among the reporters, to better first hand hear and report on the speeches and interviews as they unfolded. 



I'll try download my videos, certainly add photos, but here is a brief summary on a few under-reported issues that I overheard, with some of my own observations:

BLMO Toronto organizers are not interested in meeting with Mayor Tory or Premier Wynne behind closed doors in private. They want them to meet with the protest community instead. IMHO, a good move! Enough divide and conquer tactics! Backroom deals and sell outs! We've seen where this all leads with our teacher union and labour movement in this province. Ontario need's more, direct, grass root democracy! 

BLM Toronto believes anti-black racism is systemic in Ontario and that supposed "watchdogs" like the Police SIU need to open and transparent. SIU can't just tell us their "final verdicts", on whether charges of police misconduct should be laid. Not only police need to feel "safe" and "in the know" in a challenging, multi cultural and diverse province like ours! 

For those who might not be black or people of colour, let alone even convinced systemic racism indeed exists, consider it this way; As citizens, we all need to make sure that our police are getting proper training and have the best resources to appropriately deal in a fair, even handed handed manner to the best of their ability, with the many no doubt complex crises that they must now deal with to keep all of us safe! A more open and transparent SIU is in ALL of our best, long term interests! 



In another speech, BLM TO expressed concern that the Premier's partner, Jane, was upset with their protest outside their Don Valley West home last week. At no point did they intend her or the Premier any personal harm. BLM TO criticism focused on the false and misleading media reporting of the event. No mention was included in the news reports that advance notice of the protest was provided. The protest hardly should've come as a surprise. As teachers we are all too familiar with the media leaving out huge key parts of our protest story last year too!

BLM Toronto held a very effective, well organized and responsible protest at Toronto City Hall. It might be argued that the motion, though a good first step, is still sufficiently vague, and meaningless in and of itself, despite the councillor's good intentions. BLM TO needs to let Ontarians' know that their protest movement can't be blown off with empty promises, endless investigations, backroom deals and meaningless political talk. God only knows, that's all too often been the case as co-opting and concessions become the political order of the day!



Friday's protesters were notably representative of a wide variety of blacks, other visible minorities and even a good number of white supporters. BLM Toronto is very directly concerned with systemic black racism. Well might their fight resonate with all of us in Ontario today, considering our provinces rich, diverse variety of backgrounds: When there's no justice, there can be no peace!

Wouldn't it be great if our Ontario teacher unions would demonstrate solidarity with BLM TO too? How about a solidarity statement? Donations for legal aid? Some signs and flags at the protests? Or don't they like to get their hands dirty at the grass root protest level nowadays, when a more strident, protest backbone is required?



Will your local unit or provincial office be willing to do so? The results could be very interesting and insightful indeed! Please share any success stories with us here so we can keep tabs on them! Hope this helps!

In Solidarity!

David C

LINKS

Black Lives Matter Toronto @ Facebook

News report on the motion passed @ CBC

UNIFOR expresses solidarity with BLM TO! Your union can too @ UNIFOR

Teacher Free Speech News y Views Links on BLM TO @ March and @ April



COMMENTS:

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Join any protest group you want but I am concerned with teachers unions endorsing a group that calls the police racists and murderers.

David Chiarelli said...

We live in a very diverse province where many citizens are concerned about police powers. More openness and transparency is in everyone's best long term interest, to get police whatever help they will need to serve us all well in the years ahead.

Not everyone will like BLM TO's confrontational approach but they sure got things moving! I find the resulting discussion over crime and race verses policing and the mentally ill both very interesting and timely! Maybe too interesting? All ready every move is being made to change the topic and discredit the movement in the mainstream media! Wow!

Anonymous said...

As a teacher who contributes the funds to our union, I would prefer endorsing any political agenda, movement etc be left to individual members. Having a spouse who is in the Toronto Police Service has me very concerned with my dollars endorsing the BLM protesters. That being said, I have donated to a variety of mental health organizations that are proposing increased training and providing non lethal options for police officers. Knowing the officer involved in the Andrew Loku incident and hearing the BLM calling him a murderer has affected my ability to support this particular group. Shame on district 12 for publically endorsing this type of division. This will not create discussion nor solve the issues with those in crisis.

David Chiarelli said...

I met with the neighbours and friends of Andrew Loku who were present on the day he was shot too. Know that it is all around very traumatic and SIU silence is deafening. In my April News + Views you will find links explaining both police and BLM TO views. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Tragic absolutely. For Mr Loku, his family and the police officer. This is an issue of dealing with individuals in distress. To promote this as a race issue is extremely disheartening. You can't call someone a racist and then expect them to sit down for a chat in front of a camera David. Would you? Ask the residents of Baltimore and Chicago how they feel now that the police refuse to go into some areas until after the fact. We are not the USA. Put the bullhorn down, the flags down and get in a room and have a discussion. If you are not a part of the solution, then you are the problem.

David Chiarelli said...

Regretfully, I don't think that is enough. Folks are fed up with secret back room talks. More public openess and transparency is needed. All Canadians need to feel comfortable and assured that the system is working for them. Many clearly do not.

David Chiarelli said...

McCormick is stumbling headlong into a minefield on white privilege. Saunders is much more wise to publicly state he's invited BLM TO to meet. Private backroom meetings remain problematic though. A lot of BLM's thrust and appeal is that there are large segments of our very diverse community who require more direct openness and transparency in order to develop trust in authority.

McCormick misinterprets Wynnes Comments to BLM TO. She acknowledged that systemic anti black racism exists in Ontario. Beyond that everybody seems to like to write their own interpretation.

Let Saunders openly show and discuss what Toronto Police are doing to respect and accomodate diversity. SIU decisions should be open to public scrutiny too, since it is the public that our police serve.

Police need every assistance possible to deal with inclusiveness, diversity, PTDS and public mental health issues so that they can serve us all best in the modern, complex community we live in today. Dig in their heels with BLM TO and even if they beat them, they aren't going to win the fight for public trust. The trip wires are all set!

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure you understand the consequences of police not "engaging" for fear of scrutiny and reprisal David. Every incident in some of our troubled areas will be front and centre in the papers. I feel sorry for the vast majority of good people in those neighborhoods who will be living in fear. Open season in T.O. I hope they are happy.

P.S. The leader of BLM TO lost all credibility today on 640 when she stated " I will not accept the inquiries report unless it goes the way I want".

David Chiarelli said...

I regret to learn that our fine police force is so afraid of scrutiny and appraisal that they don't want to become more open and transparent to ALL of the good citizens they must serve! Please reread my Comments above.

It looks like the SIU investigation will be reopened now. I'd think it would be an excellent opportunity to emphasize the budget and resources police realistically need to best handle the many, many difficult and challenging tasks they now must face in a modern, progressive, inclusive, incredibly diverse and growing city like ours!

The tact you seem to be advocating isn't going to work out very well for our police force -not at all. Watch as police intransigence serves to have a very polarizing effect that will work against their good favour, trust and respect among large segments of our diverse city.

Looks like McCormick will still be first to trip over the wire too, playing directly into his opponents hands too.

What do you make of Chief Saunders Comments today?

Respectfully,

David C

Anonymous said...

I really like him. He will meet with anyone. No one in their right mind would engage in some kind of public Kangaroo court so I respect his request for behind closed doors. Look at any major city that does not do preventive policing David. Chicago, Baltimore for starters. They are open war zones. I really hope chief Saunders addresses the black on black violence also. Why in this day and age is this still the elephant in the room?

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