Laura Mae Lindo,the chair of the Official Opposition Ontario NDP Black Caucus, has called for ” a complete overhaul of police oversight ” in the province.
Lindo, MPP for Kitchener Centre, made this appeal last week after Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) cleared all police officers of wrongdoing in the death last May of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year-old Black woman.
Korchinski-Paquet fell to her death from from her 24th story apartment balcony in Toronto. Several police officers were in her home at the time of the incident.
Her death sparked protests in the city and calls to change the way police deal with people in mental health crisis.
In a statement, Lindo said ” when Ms. Korchinski-Paquet was having a mental health crisis, her loved ones called 911 because she needed help.
” But Regis didn’t get the help she needed, and today her family was denied closure and justice by a police oversight process that simply does not work for Black, Indigenous or racialized Ontarians.
” In fact, community leaders, legal experts, judges and Black Ontarians have been saying for decades that this process lacks the accountability, independence and transparency to be effective.
“We stand with Regis Korchinski-Paquet’s family during this unimaginably painful time.”
Lindo said “while we can’t know the depths of their anguish, we share in it, just as we share in their fight for justice for Regis and far too many other Black, Indigenous and racialized Ontarians whose lives have been taken or destroyed by systemic racism in policing and the justice system.
“It is critical to remember that Regis’ death and the SIU’s findings today, are not isolated incidents, but part of a longstanding pattern in this province and this country, going back centuries. The only way to truly break this pattern and get lasting justice is to fundamentally change these broken structures. ”
“We have to reimagine, ” she said, ” how we keep people, especially racialized folks and those living with mental illness, safe.
” That begins with making meaningful investments in mental health supports across the province and transferring responsibility for mental health calls to alternative first responders, who are equipped to do the work of de-escalating and providing people in distress urgent care.
” It also includes a complete overhaul of police oversight so Ontarians can have confidence that police are being held meaningfully accountable to the public and communities they serve.”
Members of the Ontario NDP Black caucus are Laura Mae Lindo (Kitchener Centre), Jill Andrew (Toronto—St. Paul’s), Rima Berns-McGown (Beaches—East York), Faisal Hassan (York—South Weston), and Kevin Yarde (Brampton North).