Longtime Toronto-based political proactivist Kenneth Jeffers says the escalating violence in Toronto’s Black community demands ” different and more creative ways of addressing this debilitating problem.”
” The same old, same old is not working,” he warned.
Jeffers was speaking at the official signing last Saturday of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Somali Mothers, many of whom lost sons to gun violence, and the Toronto Police Services Board.
The MOU is rooted in the mothers of Mending a Crack in the Sky initiative and the Toronto Police Service “working collaboratively to address and prevent escalating gun violence within the Somali community.”
Jeffers, a former member of the Toronto Police Services Board, said the primary
objective of the MOU is to establish ” a new model by adding and practicing new ways of managing the issues that are consistent with this new environment to ensure that the entire community of Toronto is safe.”
He noted that it is not a coincidence that in almost every major North American city , ” Black youth are disproportionately the major perpetrators and victims of violence.
” Is this a normal situation? Tragically, it is considered by many as such.
” Has anyone bothered to ask Black youth if they feel safe in their communities and what kinds of measures by both the community and the legislated protectors of all communities, the police, need to take to make them safe.
” Or is it normal that there is no need to involve them because they would not know ? Where are our researchers when we need them? These Somali mothers have every intention of pursuing and addressing this through the MOU. The mothers know that getting at the truth largely depends on who asks the question . They intend to.”
Stressing that new approaches must be implemented in dealing with gun violence in the African Canadian community, Jeffers said that this problem demands that ” we explore and implement solutions that are African-centred coupled with the reality of our North American social, economic and political environment.”
Jeffers went on to point out that Black people who were historically and systemically oppressed ” needed healing to be an integral part of contributing to positive change.”
“So-called counselling as the primary method of addressing the dysfunctions in the African community is not enough, ” he said.
” The history of systemic atrocities inflicted on people of African descent globally, demands first and foremost, a healing process which in my view and experience must be an integral part of counselling our young people,” he added.
The Midaynta Community Organization of Toronto noted in a news release that it will provide all the necessary training and professional support to assist the Somali Mothers and will work with the Toronto Police Services Board and the Toronto Police Service “in achieving measurable and sustaining outcomes that ultimately lead to a reduction in violence.”
This initiative draws on and is aligned to the Toronto Police Services Board’s business plan The Way Forward, which was developed after extensive consultations with several communities across Toronto, the release said.
“I am really excited that this partnership [between the Somali Mothers and the Toronto Police] will serve as a model for other Black community organizations in establishing new and innovative approaches to community-police relations,” said Mahad Yusuf, executive director of the Midaynta Community Organization.
Jim Hart, Chairman of the Toronto Police Services Board, said the Board is committed to working with the Mothers and ” supporting their valiant efforts in addressing the significant issues of gun violence within the Somali Community,”
” We are extremely hopeful about this working agreement and the potential for increased community safety that it promises,” he added