By Gerald V. Paul
Chanting “From Ferguson to Toronto, racist police have got to go,” Toronto’s Black community locked down Yonge and Dundas last Saturday in solidarity with Brampton’s Jermaine Carby who was shot and killed at a traffic stop in September and America’s Eric Garner, Mike Brown and protestors in Ferguson, Missouri.
“This isn’t something that is just local to the United States; it is an issue that affects people here as well. We can stop this,” said Sandy Hudson, a speaker and one of the demonstration organizers.
She said she wants City Council to implement some of the recommendations that have been made about how they can drop the racialized effects of the way policing is currently done in the city.
Two hundred people were part of the peaceful demonstration and protest against police brutality and anti-Black racism organized by Black Lives Matter, Toronto.
The protestors laid down on the street for four-and-a- half minutes to represent the four-and-a-half-hours Brown was left on the road after he was shot by police in Ferguson. The officer who shot Brown is reported to have said “hands up”, to which he responded “don’t shoot”.
They spray painted the now universally known slogan “We Can’t breathe” in the middle of Yonge and Dundas intersection and laid down 11 Black roses for the 11 times Garner said “I can’t breathe” as a New York City policeman had him a chokehold.
Black Lives Matter is now an ideological and political term not only for the demands to end the routine extrajudicial killings of Black people but to end the devaluation of Black life in all its forms.
The young people including university and college students on Saturday were on a mission, chanting from Nathan Phillips Square to Yonge and Dundas:
“Racist carding we say no;
“Profiling has got to go;
“Where racism persists, we will resist;
“No justice. No peace. No racial police.”
As leaders called out “Hands up”, protestors responded with “Don’t shoot” and “I Can’t Breathe”.
Others chanted “Black people united will never be defeated.”
When leaders prompted “(Black bodies) under attack, what do we do?” the crowd shouted “Unite and fight back.”
In the U.S., protests have been occurring throughout that nation, including New York City and the issue has reached the White House where President Barack Obama has called for a special investigation.
Throughout the protest, police were co-operative and allowed the protestors to exercise their right to demonstrate, despite blocking the streets.
Activist Chris Ramsaroop, of Trinidad and Tobago heritage, and Sonia Jung said that a new generation of young Black leaders have ignited a movement, awakening Canada, the U.S. and the world to state violence against Black people.