Members of the OPSEU Workers of Colour Caucus attended the Black Lives Matter demonstration on March 26 at Toronto Police Headquarters.
The demonstration is part of the ongoing tent city protest against racist police violence. Black Lives Matter organized the demonstrations after Ontario’s Special Investigation Unit (SIU) announced that it would not criminally charge the officer that fatally shot and killed Andrew Loku—a refugee from South Sudan.
“We are outraged that yet again an officer has so callously taken a life. This time he took the life of Andrew Loku and he did so with absolute impunity,” said Peter Thompson, Chair of the OPSEU Workers of Colour Caucus. The decision of the SIU not to indict the police officer responsible for Loku’s death is about anti-black racism. It’s about the fact that black lives are considered dispensable and of less value.”
Black Lives Matter has also brought attention to the lethal shooting of Jermaine Carby who was pulled over by Peel police in 2014.
“The fact is that racialized communities know all too well that we are seen as a threat, and we are routinely perceived as criminal for simply living our lives,” said Elizabeth Ha, Vice-Chair of the Workers of Colour Caucus.
“We cannot afford to allow racist police violence to be tolerated and practiced. It is unacceptable that the lethal use of force is justified and that black lives are not seen to matter.”
“Black lives have historically been treated as disposable and this continues today. Members of racialized communities are disproportionately targeted by the police for scrutiny in practices like carding and racial profiling. We are more likely to work in precarious employment and we are the targets of discriminatory legislation like the anti-terrorism bill,” said Thompson.
The OPSEU Workers of Colour stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and many other labour organizations and community agencies.
“This is about combatting the key issues that undermine all our collective rights,” said Thompson. “Whether in our workplaces, unions or communities, we stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. We demand that black lives are worthy of life, value and meaning. We must condemn all practices, especially systemic practices, that support inequality, violence against racialized communities, and an unfair criminal justice system.”
The OPSEU Workers of Colour call on Mayor John Tory, Chief Mark Saunders, and Premier Kathleen Wynne to take immediate action to implement Black Lives Matter Toronto's essential demands:
- The immediate release of the name(s) of the officer(s) who killed Andrew Loku.
- Charges to be laid against the officers who killed Mr. Loku.
- The immediate and public release of any video footage from the apartment complex where Andrew Loku was murdered.
- The adoption of the African Canadian Legal Clinic’s demand for a coroner’s inquest into the death of Andrew Loku.
A condemnation of Toronto Police’s excessive use of force and ongoing intimidation tactics against Black Lives Matter Toronto protesters.
- An overhaul of the province’s Special Investigations Unit, in consultation with families of victims of Police violence, the Black community, and the community at large.
- A commitment to the full elimination of carding by police officers, which includes: the deletion of all previously recorded data, reframing of regulations to prohibitions, consistent implementation policy amongst different police boards, and concrete disciplinary measures for officers who continue to card.
- The immediate release of the name(s) of the officer who killed Alex Wettlaufer, and charges to be laid accordingly.
Black Lives Matter is also asking for donations via interac email transfer at firstname.lastname@example.org. The security answer is: tentcity.
What: Black Lives Matter Toronto Tent City
When: The Protest continues…
Where: Toronto Police Headquarters, 40 College Street
Vice-Chair, OPSEU Workers of Colour Caucus
Chair, OPSEU Workers of Colour Caucus