Black Lives Matter Toronto releases policing reform demands

The activist group posted 27 demands online during a Juneteenth sit-in protest to call for the defunding of the police


Black Lives Matter-Toronto has released a list of 27 demands to transform policing in the city, including a 50 per cent budget cut, disarming officers and scrapping Emergency Response Teams.

The activist group posted the demands online as members took part in Friday’s Juneteenth sit-in protest outside police headquarters and south of College along Bay, which was organized by the group Not Another Black Life.

At the same time, the Toronto Police Services Board held a virtual public meeting during which a plan to discuss crisis calls, police reform and anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism was delayed to a special town hall meeting scheduled for July 6.

After activists painted the slogan “Defund the police” in pink letters along the street, BLM-TO member Syrus Marcus Ware read out demands, which called for a reinvestment of police funding into other city and community services.

“Immediately we demand a redirect of a minimum of 50 per cent of the $1.1 billion TPS budget towards the communities they have devastated by investing in secure, long-term housing for street-involved and unhoused communities, investing in food security programs, public transit, public health, public libraries and community-led anti-violence initiatives,” Ware said.

As thousands gathered outside police headquarters at College and Bay, BLM-TO posted the list of demands online via the site defundthepolice.org.

The list of demands includes removing police and school resource officers from schools ending policing of public transit, bylaw infractions and noise complaints scrapping stealth cars and plain-clothes operations an end to carding the decriminalization of drugs, HIV and sex work the establishment of an emergency service for gendered violence a new civilian transportation safety service and a civilian conflict resolution service.

The sit-in demonstration moved south down Bay and lasted six hours. Many in the crowd wore masks and wrote slogans and messages in chalk along the street. Musicians performed on the back of flat-bed trucks and speakers blasted music as marchers transformed major intersections into dance circles.

The protest coincided with Juneteenth, the oldest national commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

Not Another Black Life previously organized a protest after the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a Black woman who plunged 24 storeys from her High Park apartment building while police were in her unit.

Her death followed the police killing of unarmed Black man George Floyd in Minneapolis, which sparked weeks of anti-police brutality protests in the United States and led to renewed calls to defund and redirect police funding in major cities across the continent.

Juneteenth Sit-in Black Lives Matter protest

Samuel Engelking

Juneteenth Sit-in Black Lives Matter protest

Samuel Engelking

Juneteenth Sit-in Black Lives Matter protest

Samuel Engelking

Juneteenth Sit-in Black Lives Matter protest

Samuel Engelking

Juneteenth Sit-in Black Lives Matter protest

Samuel Engelking

Juneteenth Sit-in Black Lives Matter protest

Samuel Engelking

Juneteenth Sit-in Black Lives Matter protest

Samuel Engelking

Juneteenth Sit-in Black Lives Matter protest

Samuel Engelking

Juneteenth Sit-in Black Lives Matter protest

Samuel Engelking

Juneteenth Sit-in Black Lives Matter protest

Samuel Engelking

Juneteenth Sit-in Black Lives Matter protest

Samuel Engelking

Juneteenth Sit-in Black Lives Matter protest

Samuel Engelking

Juneteenth Sit-in Black Lives Matter protest

Samuel Engelking

Juneteenth Sit-in Black Lives Matter protest

Samuel Engelking

Juneteenth Sit-in Black Lives Matter protest

Samuel Engelking

Juneteenth Sit-in Black Lives Matter protest

Samuel Engelking

Juneteenth Sit-in Black Lives Matter protest

Samuel Engelking

@nowtoronto

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