After nearly two weeks of an unprecedented tent city occupation outside Toronto police headquarters, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor John Tory continue to remain silent on the police killing of Black people. So Black Lives Matter-Toronto took their demands directly to them.
On March 31 activists hosted a vigil outside Kathleen Wynne’s home, leaving a wreath and photos in honour of Andrew Loku—who Toronto police killed and the SIU have refused to investigate. As Yusra Khogali, co-founder of Black Lives Matter-Toronto explained, “Both the SIU and the Toronto Police Services work under provincial jurisdiction. Sooner of later, Wynne will have to answer to her constituents. In light of her silence, we decided to come to her and remind her of the faces of those victimized by institutions under her watch. Their blood is on her hands.”
Then on April 1 about 100 members and supporters of Black Lives Matter-Toronto packed Toronto City Council chambers calling for a complete overhaul of Ontario's Special Investigations Unit (SIU), and calling for the officers responsible for the killing of Andrew Loku to be named.
City councillors Mike Layton and Kristyn Wong-Tam put forward a motion calling for the Province and the Minister responsible for Anti-Racism "to ensure police services and investigations are fair and transparent." The motion was adopted unanimously. Activists then unfurled banner-size copies of the SIU report into Andrew Loku's death, a report that Mayor John Tory says he has not read (the mayor was not at the council meeting). Security guards quickly grabbed the banners, but activists continued to voice the demands of the movement: Justice for Andrew Loku – Justice for Jermaine Carby – Give us the names of the police – overhaul the SIU!
On leaving the council chambers, the protest moved to the mayor's office. The mayor was nowhere to be seen, but activists invited John Tory to come and meet with them at Toronto Police headquarters, where for almost two weeks BLM Toronto has maintained an unprecedented tent city protest covering the entire front of the building. Support actions have involved thousands of people, and everyone who rides the 506 streetcar has seen the brilliant display of signs, flags, banners and art across the front of police HQ.
A statement on the Black Lives Matter TO Coalition facebook page stated: "#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 at the hands of those who should be protecting us…One of our key demands is specifically seeking a complete overhaul of the province’s Special Investigations Unit, to be done in consultation with families of victims of police violence, the Black communities throughout the province, and the community at-large."
* visit #BLMTOtentcity at 40 College Street
* follow Black Lives Matter-Toronto on facebook
* donate to Black Lives Matter-Toronto by e-transfering to BLM.TO.Solidarity@gmail.com
Join the conference Ideas for Real Change: Marxism 2016, including the session “100 years since the Black Panthers” with Norman Otis Richmond, prominent Black activist in Toronto and former member of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers in Detroit. Register today and join/share on facebook.