More Toronto residents followed Black Lives Matter protest than death of Andrew Loku, poll says
Protesters with the group Black Lives Matter-Toronto are seen blocking the Allen Expressway at Eglinton Avenue on Monday, July 27, 2015. (Eugene Eliseev)
Chris Herhalt, CP24.com
Published Friday, August 7, 2015 11:00AM EDT
News of a recent protest that temporarily blocked Allen Road reached more Toronto residents than the death of a mentally-ill black man at the hands of Toronto police, a new poll suggests.
Early last month, 45-year-old Andrew Loku, an immigrant from South Sudan who suffered from mental health issues, was shot dead during an encounter with police. The province’s Special Investigations Unit is probing the incident.
The poll, conducted on Aug. 4 by Mainstreet Technologies, found 27 per cent of respondents have been following news of that incident very or somewhat closely, while 73 per cent of respondents were either not following the story closely or not aware of it at all.
When asked whether they were aware of a July 27 protest by Black Lives Matter Toronto, which blocked Allen Road at Eglinton Avenue in both directions to raise awareness of deaths of black Ontarians at the hands of police, 32 per cent of respondents said they followed the story very or somewhat closely. But 47 per cent said they weren’t following the story closely and 21 per cent were not aware of the protest at all.
“I think it speaks volumes that more are following the story of the Allen Road closure than the death of Mr. Loku,” Mainstreet Technologies President and CEO Quito Maggi wrote in a statement.
When questioned about their perceptions on Toronto police and racism, city residents are clearly divided.
The poll found 49 per cent of residents are “very confident” or “somewhat confident” that the Toronto police treat all citizens equally, regardless of race, while 45 per cent of respondents were “not too confident” or “not at all confident” that police treat all citizens equally.
Five per cent of respondents said they weren’t sure.
The split reflects a growing concern in the city that the recently suspended police practice of “carding” or “street checks,” where people are stopped by police and questioned despite not being suspected of a crime, has disproportionately targeted the city’s black and brown residents, especially young men.
Half of respondents said the situation in Toronto for racial minorities is the same as it was five years ago, while 13 per cent of respondents said the situation is better, 17 per cent said it was worse, and 20 per cent were unsure.
The poll found that 63 per cent of the 2,415 residents polled approve of Mayor John Tory’s performance, while 24 per cent disapprove of his performance and 13 per cent are not sure.
The poll used interactive voice response and has a margin of error of 1.99 per cent plus or minus, 19 times out of 20.