Anti-Black Racism and Policing in Toronto
Anti-black racism and policing involve the oppression of the black citizens as a result of their origin in various fields of the society. The mentioned group of population has been a victim of increased policing and unfair treatment in the justice system over the years. It is a more pronounced issue in the United States than it is in Canada; however, the cases of discrimination the black individuals are quite common in Canada as well (Wun, 2014). In Toronto, the problem under consideration has been traced back to the time when the white settlers arrived on the territory, and although have been changing over the years to eliminate anti-black racism, it still exists (Goode & Nicolazzo, 2016). Despite the fact that, the black community is a victim of unfair treatment, they rarely speak out. Thus, movements are a major force in the fight against the discrimination (Sexton, 2015). Therefore, the given paper will focus on the anti-black racism and policing in Canada, the people involved, the organizations or movements that are focused on the issue and discussion of their actions.
The Issue Context
Anti-black racism and policing affect all the groups of the black population in Canada, the youth, men, and women (Wun, 2014). The black people account for 2.5% of the country’s total population (Wun, 2014). Nevertheless, they demonstrate a high rate of unemployment and most of them live in abject poverty. Moreover, they face unfair treatment in all spheres of life ranging from the court proceedings to the discriminative attitude and actions inside prisons, during the arrests and police stops.
The police view the black citizens as dangerous to safety, and as a result, in Toronto, black neighborhoods are subject to extra policing. The police officers have in various situations used excessive force against the black individuals, and occasionally, killed them as they have failed to put on “race lens” when dealing with the African-Canadians.
The black population suffers from the racial profiling on the part of the police. It is evident from actions and statements of Mayor Rob Ford who suggested that people gun crimes were associated with the black population and proposed to deport those convicted of them (Gardner, 2014). To continue, empirical studies have revealed that most shootings in Toronto affect black people (Gardner, 2014). A research carried out in 1995 showed that a half of the black school boys interviewed felt that the police treated them badly compared to the representatives of other races (Owusu-Bempah, 2016). Further investigations discovered that over a half of the black population who took part in the survey faced police brutality in the form of assault, threats, and arrests (Goode & Nicolazzo, 2016). The Toronto Star started publishing articles as a part of the race and crime series that further revealed more evidence of racial profiling among the African Canadians and that fact that they were more likely to be stopped by the police or face unwarranted searches (Owusu-Bempah, 2016).
All in all, the increased oppression of the African-Canadians is alarming. Their brutal killings by the police are on the rise despite policies that have been put in place to fight the issue. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that deals with matters involving police killings and injuries, has acquitted many officers involved in the incidents; nevertheless, most of the policemen go unpunished (Gardner, 2014).
Black Lives Matter Toronto
One of the organizations that has started in response to police shooting the blacks and avoiding the punishment is the one called Black Lives Matter Toronto. There were several occurrences that resulted in the founding of the coalition. In November 2014, Darren Wilson, a Fergusson police officer was acquitted after he shot and killed Michael Brown (Clare, 2016). Before the incident, Jermaine Carby was shot in September 2014 by the police (Clare, 2016). The man was accused of having a knife that prompted his killing (Clare, 2016). The shooting of Loku, outside his apartment by the police was another case that led to the appearance of the Black Lives Matter in Canada (Gomes & Khan, 2016). After the investigation, the SIU announced that it would not press charges for the murders of Carby and Loku. Consequently, the movement was started to protest against the killings of the mentioned people calling for justice for the victims.
Black Lives Matter aims at dismantling all forms of anti-black racism, liberation of the blackness, supporting healing, affirmation of the existence of the blacks, creation of freedom and encouragement of self-determination among the black community. The movement is headed by three co-founders who are responsible for decision-making (Gomes & Khan, 2016). The funding of the group is raised through donations. The actual budget of the movement is, however, not made public. Black Lives Matter targets all black people in Toronto who make up to 8.5% of the total population (Alagraa, 2015). They fight for the rights of the youth, women, men and the children aged between 4 and 10 (Alagraa, 2015). All in all, oppression of the black population is their main point of advocacy (Alagraa, 2015). They also call for justice with regard to people who are victims of unfair treatment in Toronto by authorities (Owusu-Bempah, 2016). The movements use public demonstrations as well as grassroots mobilization as its tactics.
The coalition uses an anti-racist framework where they advocate for equal treatment of the black population. They claim that the statement that Canada is a multicultural democratic society is a myth and refute it by saying that racism exists and the affected groups should not be silent (Alagraa, 2015).
The protests organized by the activists of the movement have raised awareness and spoke for many black people who are oppressed by the system (Alagraa, 2015). Its followers call for reforms that would help to reduce the number of cases of anti-black racism in governance, policing and education system. As it has already been stated, the empirical studies have revealed that anti-black racism is a real problem in Toronto. However, the authorities do not pay the needed attention to the issue that means that the racialization and cases of gun homicides do not stop. Thus, Black Lives Matter has unearthed the oppression that many black individuals face in Toronto (Sexton, 2015).
As a part of their activities, the members of the movement have put forward various demands to the authorities. They ask for the systemic changes that can provide the freedom to the black people in Toronto. Furthermore, they have requested to reveal of the names of the police officers that killed some black individuals, and some of them have already been uncovered. Additionally, it is working to eliminate carding which mostly affects the black Canadians (Zeidman, 2013). They call for the removal of the carding system as it is considered to be biased and the one that targets the black community.
One of the initiatives of the given coalition is a program known as Freedom School that is involved in training young kids aged between 4 and 10 on matters of anti-black racism at a tender age as well as orienting them to the participation in the movement (Gomes & Khan, 2016). The Freedom School consists of a team of 9 workers who specialize in various professions such as curriculum development, arts, and teaching among others (Gomes & Khan, 2016).
Call to Action
Speaking about the activities of the coalition, one can conclude that the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement has led to the development of a force that advocates for the termination of violence against the black people in Toronto. The use of excessive force against the black individuals by the state actors, the carding practice and the heavy policing of the African-Canadian neighborhoods are the manifestation of anti-black racism the organization fights against (Kumsa, Mfoafo-M'Carthy, Oba, & Gaasim, 2014). The activists act as a voice of many silent black Canadians and a force to push for reforms that would eliminate inequalities in the justice system and the policing in Toronto. I agree with the steps that the movement has taken to address the challenges that many black people face.
The Canadian authorities have downplayed the issue of anti-black racism, and the efforts made by the Black Lives Matter have achieved significant gains. Firstly, the movement in collaboration with the community is advocating for reforms to enable the public to hold the police accountable for the actions of violence against the African-Canadians. For instance, the authorities have uncovered the names of the officers involved in the shooting of the 18-year-old (Zeidman, 2013). Furthermore, the actions of the movement and the community have forced the media to increase its coverage of the multidimensional oppressions that the black people face in Toronto that has raised awareness concerning the issue. In addition, the activists organized protests that caught the attention of the city mayor and, eventually, led to the meeting of the town authorities and representatives of the movements (Sexton, 2015).
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It has to be said, that the coalition has unveiled the oppression of the black people in the Greater Toronto Area within a short span of time. They organized the pride parade to push for their demands to be fulfilled that was welcomed by many people who felt that pride had lost its original role and became defined by politicians and corporations. The Black Lives Matter movement is termed by many of its opponents as a reactionary group of mobilizers (Kumsa, Mfoafo-M'Carthy, Oba, & Gaasim, 2014).
However, there are some actions the group can take to make more difference. To start from, it can address the issue of anti-black racism through the inclusion of other advocacy channels such as the law and publications that would ensure that more people are reached. This will help many people facing racialization to access information as well as share their experiences within those channels. I would participate in sharing experiences in the form of articles that educate people on how to combat anti-black racism.
In conclusion, the issue of anti-black racism and policing is widespread in Toronto, and many black Canadians face oppression from the police and the criminal justice system. The Black Lives Matter movement has been created in Toronto to address the problem. The group has achieved some of its objectives as well as become the voice of many discriminated people. To further address the issue, the activists need to include more channels of advocacy so as to involve as many individuals as possible.
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