Wynne speaks with Black Lives Matter leaders amid Queen’s Park protest
Joshua Freeman, CP24.com
Published Monday, April 4, 2016 1:43PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, April 4, 2016 8:44PM EDT
A loud group of protesters managed to draw out Premier Kathleen Wynne at Queen’s Park Monday after marching on the legislature to demand systemic changes to combat racism.
Protesters with the Black Lives Matter movement started at Toronto police headquarters on College Street and then marched on to Queen’s Park.
The group is angry about what they see as systemic racism in the province, particularly in policing and the Special Investigations Unit, the police oversight body responsible for looking into police use of force. They cite examples such as the shooting of Andrew Loku, a 45-year-old father of five who was shot by police in the hallway of his apartment building last July. The SIU cleared the officer in the case, but protesters have demanded that his name be made public.
“We’re in mourning today. We’re mourning the loss of our community members and a system that does not care about black life,” organizer Yusra Khogali said in a statement.
Coming out to speak with 100 or so protesters around 12:30 p.m., Wynne said she would meet with the movement’s leaders if they provided contact information to set up a meeting, but said she would not meet with them on the spot to address their specific concerns.
“What I know is that up until this point I haven’t had a formal request from you. I want to meet with you and I want to get this right,” Wynne said. “The reason we’re setting up an anti-racism directorate is that I believe we still have racism in our society.”
One of the organizers shot back that the province has “anti-black racism.”
After Wynne acknowledged that there is anti-black racism in society and agreed to meet with the group in the future, she returned to the legislature amid cheers and chants from the crowd.
But speaking further with CP24 at the protest, Khogali said it took Wynne too long to respond.
“It’s a shame that it’s been two weeks before she directly engaged with us,” Khogali said. “The fact that it’s taken two weeks for her to come out to us is disgusting. She is a politician who is accountable to us.”
The group has been camped out outside police headquarters for two weeks to make their voices heard. They have also demanded a meeting with Wynne and have even held a protest outside her private residence.
In their release Monday, the group said they have dropped a banner outside police headquarters giving local and provincial decision-makers 300 hours to respond.
“The community deserves to hear from you in 300 hours. Or you will hear from us,” the group said.
Last week Toronto City Council passed a motion asking the province to review the SIU in terms of how it deals with racialized people.