BASICS #16 (Nov/Dec 2009)
by Solomon Muyoboke, Jessica Luke-Smith, Daniel Mayers and Farshad Azadian
On October 8th, 2009, Esplanade youth made a resounding statement to the indignity of police violence, harassment and racism in our community. Some 40 youth made their way to the Youth Forum organized by the Esplanade Community Organization to discuss their issues, experiences and concerns. The event was launched just weeks after the tragic murder of Esplanade youth Kamal Hercules, which left our community reeling with the pain of having lost another young brother.
This pattern of violence in our community illuminated a need for change and inspired the forum. The Esplanade Community Organization developed the forum with the aim of creating discussion among youth around the sources of violence in the community and the direction that an Esplanade youth organization might take in addressing violence – in all its forms.
A central component of the event was a brief legal presentation, to provide youth with the necessary knowledge required to defend themselves against unlawful police procedures and searches. However, as most people who have experienced police harassment and brutality can tell you, knowing your rights is not enough to prevent police abuses, but it is a useful first step in challenging such police power.
For this reason, coupled with a series of neighbourhood issues, a group of working class residents in the Esplanade community have come together to formulate a six point program which outlines the needs, desires and concerns of working class people in our community. These fighting demands, based upon formal and informal surveying of the community, include: a commitment to challenging police brutality; attaining access to affordable and well-maintained housing; preventing evictions that are due to economic reasons and to move forward to ensure the accessibility of childcare and recreation services. The Esplanade Community Organization feels very strongly about its program and is committed to fighting for these six points to create the necessary changes to improve the conditions in our community.
The reality is that as we fall deeper into this capitalist economic crisis, the kinds of individual solutions (getting a 2nd or 3rd job, sacrificing family or health) will no longer be adequate solutions to rising debt, poverty and bills. We need to realize that we are faced with a systemic problem that individual efforts cannot solve. Hence, to get ourselves out of the mess, there is an urgent need for us to start organizing ourselves, as working class people, on a collective basis.
Get involved in your community and email the esplanadegroup[at]gmail.com about your issues, whether they concern housing, repairs, rents, evictions or police violence.