“Every single day, Black bodies in this city face violence—whether it’s carding, whether it’s surveillance, whether it’s physical violence, whether it’s death. This is life and death for us, and we are here to let you know and to put you on watch that we will take action, and that Black Lives Matter.”
This was the statement by one of the Black Lives Matter-Toronto organizers at the July 16 meeting of the Toronto Police Services Board, as part of demands for action around the police killing of Andrew Loku in a building for those living with mental health issues.
Justice for Andrew Loku
On July 5 police went to the home of Andrew Loku, a refugee from South Sudan living in an apartment complex for people with mental health issues. Less than a minute after arriving on scene, police killed him.
Working with the family and friends of Andrew Loku, Black Lives Matter-Toronto delivered the following demands to Toronto Mayor John Tory and Toronto police chief Mark Saunders:
1. The immediate release of the name(s) of the officers that Killed Andrew Loku.
2. Charges to be laid against the officers who killed Mr. Loku.
3. The immediate and public release of any video footage from the apartment complex where Andrew Loku was murdered.
4. A public apology from the Mayor, Chief of Police and the Toronto 5. Police Department to the family and broader community.
6. The funeral of Andrew Loku to be funded completely by the City of Toronto.
7. Monetary compensation for the family of Andrew Loku for the damages caused by the Toronto Police department.
8. The adoption of all recommendations made by the African Canadian Legal Clinic: A systemic inquiry by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director to guage whether there has been adequate disciplinary action taken against officers who use force against black people living with mental health issues, body cameras to be worn by all police officers, the release of data on number of SIU cases involving racialized people, and racialized people living with mental health issues, an inquiry by the Ontario Human Rights Commission into the disproportionate use of force used against black people with mental health challenges.
9. The adoption of the 84 recommendations in the 2014 report by Frank Iacobucci, aimed at reducing fatal encounters with people in emotional distress.
The Iacobucci report is a product of the outrage to police killing 18-year old Sammy Yatim on a streetcar last year.
Justice for Jermaine Carby
This comes at the same time as the “Special Investigations Unit” has cleared police for their murder of Jermaine Carby. On September 24, 2014 Peel police pulled over the vehicle claiming the licence plate was obscured, even though footage shows it was clearly visible; asked Carby to identify himself even though he was the passenger and not the driver; and shot him multiple times, claiming he was holding a knife. But as Carby’s cousin, LaTanya Grant, one of the family spokespersons for the campaign for justice, explained, “There was no knife found on the scene. Jermaine Carby’s prints were not found on the knife, just his DNA. The knife was given over to the SIU several hours after the event…that alone just shows me that there was no knife.”
The SIU has refused to give the name of the vehicle’s driver to Carby’s family, refused to release the name of the officer who shot Carby to death, and refused to release the name of the officer who produced the knife. The complete inability of police to safely and peacefully interact with people of colour speaks to both their racism and professional incompetence.
Join the Day of Action: Justice for Andrew Loku! Justice for Jermaine Carby! Monday July 27 at 5:00pm, Eglinton Gilbert Parkette | 504 Gilbert Ave, at the parkette across from Andrew’s house. Allies are asked to bring tokens, food and water.
For more info see Black Lives Matter-Toronto