In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrations have taken place around the world in response to police brutality and systemic anti-Black racism in the United States.
This weekend saw a wave of police brutality in response to protests and demonstrations following the death of George Floyd, a Black man, who died after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck, suffocating him, according to an independent autopsy report. Floyd’s death follows a slew of cases of Black people killed by police, including Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and also of Ahmaud Arbery, where one of the white men charged is a former police officer.
For Canadians, it can often feel overwhelming to watch what’s happening in the U.S. from afar. But anti-Black police violence and discrimination happens here too.
The B.C. Civil Liberties Association and the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs compiled police data in the province from 2008 to 2017 and found that, despite First Nations people making up two per cent of the population, they accounted for 15 per cent of police stops. And while Black people make up just one per cent of the population in the province, they accounted for five per cent of police stops.
Black people made up only 8.8 per cent of Toronto’s population in 2016, a 2018 report from the Ontario Human Rights Commission found they were involved in seven out of 10 cases of fatal shootings by police between 2013 and 2017.
Last week, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a Black woman, died under mysterious circumstances; police were in her Toronto home when she fell to her death from the balcony of her 24th floor apartment. Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit, which examines death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault involving police, is investigating the case.
There are specific organizations or resources Canadians can engage with closer to home. Because Canada has a racism and police brutality problem too, whether we’re good at acknowledging it or not.
Black Lives Matter regional chapters
Black Lives Matter was originally created in the U.S. by Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi and Alicia Garza as a call to action for Black people after the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. It’s grown into an international movement, with chapters around the world working to oppose anti-Black racism and police brutality in their local communities.
Here are links to some regional chapters of Black Lives Matter across Canada. If you’re interested in contributing money, many chapters accept donations, while others are looking for volunteers or support in other ways.
Black Lives Matter Toronto: Canada’s largest BLM chapter. In their own words, they aim “to forge critical connections and to work in solidarity with black communities, black-centric networks, solidarity movements, and allies in order to to dismantle all forms of state-sanctioned oppression, violence, and brutality committed against African, Caribbean, and Black cis, queer, trans, and disabled populations in Toronto.”
Black Lives Matter Vancouver: The Vancouver chapter of BLM, that works “to draw attention to our largely invisibilized communities, celebrate people of colour and work in solidarity with other Black Lives Matter chapters across North America.”
BLM Vancouver did not organize Vancouver’s protest Sunday night, which saw over 3,500 people come out. However, they gave their blessing alongside information to keep it safe for everyone.
It’s a good reminder that it’s important to take cues from the people you’re trying to support, especially if you are a white ally. There can be dangerous misinformation and disinformation circling (this was not the case in Vancouver). Before you attend a protest or event, know who the organizers are and how you can keep yourself and those around you safe.
For more details, please see a full list of even more ways you can help here via Huffpost Canada.