Call to Action on Anti-Black Racism and Police Violence
Anti-Black racism is a public health crisis. Anti-Black racism is a queer and trans crisis. Police violence is a community crisis.
The recent deaths of George Floyd in Minnesota and Regis Korchinski-Paquet in Toronto—along with the subsequent responses from police, government, and community—highlight the ongoing reality of violence that Black people face in both Canada and the United States. They are another example of how certain people in our society can be maimed or killed as a result of interactions with the police, with little consequence or justice. They are further examples of how our communities are not being served by police—along with D’Andre Campbell in Brampton, Abdirahman Abdi in Ottawa, and Andrew Loku in Toronto.
Queer and trans folks are no stranger to police violence and indifference. There is a long history of police targeting queer gathering spaces—from the bathhouse raids in 1981 to the Fruit Machine to the harassment in Marie Curtis Park. We remember also police inaction in the deaths of Sumaya Dalmar and Alloura Wells in Toronto, and in the disappearances and deaths of Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi, Majeed Kayhan, Soroush Mahmudi, Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, Dean Lisowick, Selim Esen, and Andrew Kinsman. There are many others who have been harmed or let down by this system.
Every day in Canada, Black people face higher levels of violence at the hands of police through brutality, surveillance, and incarceration. In 2018, the Ontario Human Rights Commission documented that Black people are 20 times more likely to be killed in a shooting by the Toronto Police Service. In 2016, the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent highlighted “Canada’s history of enslavement, racial segregation, and marginalization” and its roots into anti-Black racism in Canada, leading to institutional racism, low employment rates, poor health, and disproportionally high incarceration rates of Black Canadians. We see and hear time and again that policing in Canada isn't a source of safety and security for Black people.
In spite of this clear documentation of the problem, few changes have been made.
It is essential for queer organizations to fight against racism and white supremacy in any way we can. While we recognize Pride month and celebrate a history of queer resistance, it is necessary to remember that our Pride celebrations began as riots against police brutality and against governments and a society that were complicit in our suffering. The rights and privileges that some of us enjoy today are a result of direct action and protest. This is as true of the decriminalization of homosexuality, as it was in the fight to secure HIV treatment during the AIDS crisis.
When acts of injustice go unchecked, we permit injustice to continue. We are complicit in the suffering of others. It is not enough to highlight that this injustice exists—we must take meaningful action to change it.
We stand in solidarity with Black people in calling for action to end police violence and anti-Black racism. In Canada, this can be achieved through:
1. Establishing an independent inquiry into the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet.
2. Creating real civilian oversight for police forces across Canada.
3. Restricting the use of force by police officers.
4. De-militarizing police forces and restricting the use of military-style weapons by police.
5. Properly funding community health and social services to alleviate poverty and improve the social determinants of health. This will also lead to a reduction in crime.
6. Defunding police services and redirecting that funding to non-violent community safety and emergency response measures.
7. Creating a dedicated mental health crisis response services separate from the police.
8. Investing in programs targeted at improving the lives and financial security of Black people and rooted in Black liberation.
As organizations, service providers, healthcare practitioners, and individuals engaged in serving the community—queer and trans and those living with HIV—we cannot be complicit in this injustice.
Ending unrest requires that we end the conditions that led to it. The fight for justice must continue until we are all free. Unequivocally, we join together to say that Black Lives Matter.
Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights
Action LGBTQ with Immigrants and Refugees (AGIR)
AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia
AIDS Committee Newfoundland & Labrador
Black Women United YEG
Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network
Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity (CCGSD)
Community-Based Research Centre (CBRC)
The Enchanté Network
ENSEMBLE Services Greater Moncton
Fierté Fredericton Pride
Fierté Sudbury Pride
Gay Men's Sexual Health Alliance (GMSH)
Halifax Sexual Health Centre
Health Initiative for Men (HIM)
HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario (HALCO)
Montréal LGBTQ+ Community Centre
Ontario Harm Reduction Network (OHRN)
Planned Parenthood Newfoundland and Labrador Sexual Health Centre
The Pride Centre of Edmonton
Rainbow Resource Centre
REZO, health and well-being of gay and bisexual, cis or trans men
Sexual Health Nova Scotia
Two-Spirited People of Manitoba
Why We March LGBT
The Youth Project
Ty Best (Ty Best Designs)
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