Tuesday, June 2, 2020

TW: Anti-Black Racism, Anti-Indigenous Racism, Police Violence, Gendered Violence, Death

The Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson (CESAR) is united with organizers across Turtle Island (also known as North America) protesting generations of anti-Black racism in the United States and Canada. On behalf of 16,000 continuing education and part-time students at Ryerson, we recommit to the continual work to unite against police brutality, systemic racism and the oppression of Black lives. This requires ongoing and reflective work and a commitment to challenging anti-Blackness at Ryerson University and within our own organization.

Over the weekend, anti-Black racism activists from across the city came together to challenge the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, a 46-year-old Black man who died while being restrained by police officers and one knelt on his neck; Regis Korchinski-Paquet, who fell to her death in Toronto on May 27 after an altercation with police (more information below); Tony McDade, a 27-year-old Black trans man who was fatally shot by police in Florida on May 27; and countless other Black lives.

These deaths followed the recent murders of D’Andre Campbell, a 26-year-old Black man who was tasered and fatally shot in his own home on April 6 by police in Brampton, Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was fatally shot while he was jogging on February 23 in Georgia, Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who was fatally shot in her own home on March 31 by police officers in Kentucky, as well as the racist harassment and abuse from a white Canadian woman that Christian Cooper suffered while he was birdwatching in Central Park, NY, in an incident that was filmed and went viral on the news and social media.

Black lives are being lost due to white-supremacy in the form of state-sanctioned police violence and this is not a new issue. Structural and systemic anti-Black racism is rampant in police services, media coverage and society at large. Police institutions are inherently built on structures of racism, colonialism, patriarchy, and defending capitalism and wealth. Police institutions have not been built to defend or value Black, Indigenous or racialised lives. CESAR condemns the Toronto Police Services handling of the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet and their continued lack of action in substantially addressing anti-Blackness in Toronto policing. Too many lives have been lost due to anti-Black racism and we must create change that recognizes that Black Lives Matter.

Justice for Regis

[Text taken mostly from Toronto Prisoner’s Rights Project]

Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a Black and Indigenous woman, fell to her death last Wednesday after an encounter with the Toronto Police. Historically, the relationship between Black and Indigenous communities and the police has resulted in abuse and trauma in those communities. CESAR acknowledges this relationship, and is committed to ensuring truth and transparency for Black and Indigenous communities. CESAR also acknowledges that the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) being comprised of former police officers presents a conflict of interest for an objective investigation to take place.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) is one of three oversight agencies that can investigate police officers in Ontario. The SIU is the police’s supposedly “arms length” watchdog investigating the murder of Regis Korchinski-Paquet. It is essential that this investigation be unbiased, thorough and transparent. However, 20% of SIU investigators are former law enforcement officers, while their investigators from “civilian” backgrounds include those trained by the Canadian Security Intelligence Services (CSIS). According to their public page, 6 of the 14 SIU investigators stationed at Head Office have a policing background. Real efforts at community oversight over policing would not have violent police officers be investigated by former police or members of state-intelligence agencies. In 2018, The Ontario Human Rights Commission released a report acknowledging that racism is a systemic problem in policing. Systemic racism creates an institutionalized pattern of behaviours and practices in policing that result in situations where Black, Indigenous, and otherwise racialized peoples are singled out for greater scrutiny, abusive treatment, and are at greater risk of being subjected to violence by police officers. 

We call on our supporters to leave a voicemail for relevant decision-makers (see suggested contact list below).

Sample script:

My name is (insert name), and I live in (add city) in Ontario. I am saddened and outraged by the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet. We need an urgent response and an immediate independent inquest into her death. I am concerned that the SIU, an arms-length body that almost always sides with police, is taking on this inquest. I am requesting a fully public and independent investigation so that we can feel confident. The cops involved in this incident must also be immediately suspended and taken off our streets until we receive answers.

Suggested contact list: 

Please consider posting your phone call as a video on your social media to encourage others to take action.

If you’d like to continue raising your voice to call for justice, consider this call to action by the Toronto Prisoner’s Rights Project.

Further Reading

Resources

Across Boundaries: – “Across Boundaries provides a dynamic range of mental health support and services and works within Anti-Racism/Anti-Black racism and Anti-Oppression frameworks.”

TAIBU Community Health Centre: – “TAIBU serves the Black community across the GTA as its priority population with counseling and nutritionist services, among other services.”

Tropicana Community Services: – “Tropicana Community Services, a Toronto-based multi-service organization, provides all youth, newcomers, people of Black and Caribbean heritage and others in need with opportunities and alternatives that lead to success and positive life choices. Our mission is achieved through culturally appropriate programs such as counselling, child care, educational and employment services and youth development.”

Access Alliance: “Access Alliance provides services and addresses system inequities to improve health outcomes for the most vulnerable immigrants, refugees, and their communities.”

Caribbean African Canadian Social Services: “CAFCAN provides culturally appropriate social services that enrich the lives of the African, Caribbean and Diaspora (ACD) communities in the Greater Toronto Area.”

Showing Up for Racial Justice: “SURJ is an international network of groups and individuals organizing white people for racial justice.”

Contact

Maddy Fast, Vice-President Equity, vp.equity@mycesax.ca

CESAR represents more than 16,000 continuing education and part-time education students at Ryerson University. CESAR also represents any full-time students (ie. RSU members) who are taking Chang School courses.