Families of five people injured or killed by Peel Regional Police met with mayors from the region in Malton last week to demand an end to police violence.
The families of Jamal Francique, D’Andre Campbell, Ejaz Choudry, Chantelle Krupka and Michael Headley spoke with Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie and Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown at Malton Community Centre for more than two hours.
The Malton People’s Movement, a group that supports the families of those killed or injured by police, livestreamed the meeting, which was not open to the media. MPP Deepak Anand, who represents Mississauga-Malton, also attended.
Derek Francique, whose son Jamal was fatally shot by police in January, told reporters these families want answers.
“We are calling out the mayors of Brampton and the mayor of Mississauga to stand up and give us answers to why these aggressions have been happening and why they haven’t taken a different approach,” Francique said.
Francique sobbed as he spoke of the loss of his son. He said Jamal, 28, was unarmed and alone in his car in Mississauga when police shot him.
Krupka, who was wounded when she was shot by police on Mother’s Day back in May, said the group is calling on its elected representatives for solutions.
“We are here to demand justice. We are here to demand answers. And we are here to demand that the mayors take a stand on what is really a crisis that’s happening in our communities,” she said.
Scrutiny around police practices and oversight has surged in recent months. Back in June, hundreds of people rallied outside of Peel Police headquarters after Ejaz Choudry was shot and killed after his family called a non-emergency line when the 62-year-old was having a mental health crisis.
At last week’s meeting, family members demanded that area mayors lobby the provincial government to make changes at Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which investigates incidents involving police where civilians are injured or killed, or where there is an allegation of sexual assault.
Knia Singh, a lawyer with Ma’at Legal Services, spoke to reporters outside of the meeting and called on politicians to take action.
Singh represents the family of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, who died falling from her high-rise balcony in Toronto while police were in her apartment. The 29-year-old’s death sparked widespread community reaction and online attention when family members took to social media in the immediate aftermath of the incident, claiming she was pushed by police. The SIU subsequently cleared police of any wrongdoing.
“When are those elected representatives going to step up in the face of tragedy? When are they going to step up and acknowledge this is a problem that’s systemic and has continued for far too long?” Singh asked.
The mayors said they went to the meeting to listen
Both Crombie and Brown expressed concern about the incidents before the meeting and later agreed to meet with the group again to talk about how they can work together for change.
“My heart goes out to the community and we really want to help them heal,” Crombie said.
“This is part of a broader consultation. Obviously, the community is in a lot of pain. There have been a number of incidents,” she added.
“For me, this is a listening exercise. This is their opportunity to speak with us.”
Crombie said the group asked both her and Brown not to invite Peel Police Chief Nishan Duraiappah to the meeting.
“We’re here to listen today to see how we can be helpful,” Brown said. “We’re here to learn and better understand some of the concerns of the community. I am certainly concerned about the tragedies we’ve had recently. It’s shaken our community.
“Obviously, we have to do a better job of making sure everyone is safe.”
Brown also said reform is needed. “I come from this with the standpoint that we do a poor job in Canada and Ontario in responding to mental health challenges,” he said.