Request of the Province and the Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism to ensure Police Services and Investigations are Fair and Transparent.
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!
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