Black Lives Matter - Toronto responds to Mayor Tory's public forum announcement with cautious optimism and confusion

TORONTO, April 20, 2016 /CNW/ - Black Lives Matter organizers are encouraged but perplexed by Mayor John Tory's recent commitment to a public forum. After almost one year of insisting Mayor Tory consult the public on anti-Black racism in policing through emails, protests, a highway shut down and occupying Toronto Police Services' Headquarters, Mayor Tory has invited Black Lives Matter – Toronto to attend a public forum on "Racial Equity".  The event is described as a discussion on areas including "social development, youth engagement, poverty reduction and policing." Though Black Lives Matter – Toronto is interested in attending, they are not sure the meeting will be focused enough to address the issues of anti-Black racism in policing they have been raising.

"Had we taken those private meetings Mayor Tory earlier offered, this wouldn't be happening now, so on one hand, I'm encouraged," said Rodney Diverlus, co-founder of Black Lives Matter – Toronto. "But I am not sure why the city would be reticent to having a focused discussion on anti-Black racism in policing. Avoiding the issue is anti-Blackness in itself."

In contrast, provincial decision-makers have committed to having at least four two-hour long public meetings on anti-Black racism in policing in the City of Toronto. In a logistical meeting with the Minister responsible for anti-racism Michael Coteau, the province committed to discussing anti-Black racism, the Special Investigations Unit, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, carding, Toronto Police Services and other measures in place to keep police officers accountable to the public. The province also announced a coroner's inquest into the homicide of Andrew Loku.

"I'm hoping that Mayor Tory eventually gets it completely right," said Alexandria Williams, co-founder of Black Lives Matter – Toronto. "Although it took the Mayor over a year of us writing emails, shutting down highways and living outside to get to even this point, so to be honest, I'm not holding my breath."

Members of Black Lives Matter – Toronto are tentatively saying they will attend the meeting, pending more information on its format and focus.

Black Lives Matter-Toronto is the Toronto chapter of #BlackLivesMatter, an international organization and movement fighting anti-Black racism all over the world.

SOURCE Black Lives Matter - Toronto

For further information: For inquiries, contact: Sandy Hudson at info@blacklivesmatter.com or 416-722-8842; Rodney Diverlus at info@blacklivesmatter.com or 647-456-8476


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