By: Nooria Alam
On the afternoon of July 16th protesters from the Black Lives Matter Toronto Coalition disrupted the Toronto Police Service’s monthly board meeting, demanding answers directly from the Mayor as well as the Chief of Police in the aftermath of the death of Andrew Loku at the hands of a Toronto Police Officer a week earlier.
“Every day, black bodies face violence in this city. Every single day,” said Rodney Diverlus, a BLM organiser. “Mayor Tory and Chief Saunders, what is the response to the community for the slaying of Andrew Loku and the continued violence against Black people in this city?”
Loku was a 45-year-old refugee from South Sudan and father of five. On Saturday July 4th, police officers responded to a call from the tenants living a floor above Loku. They found him remonstrating with his noisy neighbours, and instead of de-escalating the situation, officers shot him three times.
Diverlus’ questions were initially met with silence from Tory, Saunders, and TPS Board Chair Alok Mukherjee. But after being faced with pressure from the protestors, Tory and Mukherjee attempted meager responses, stating that “investigations take some time,” and that measures to be taken are “in the process of being implemented fully.”
Mukherjee also explained that “de-escalation tactics are very much on list of priorities for us,” to which a female protester replied: “A list of priorities is not good enough! Somebody has been murdered.”
Mukherjee’s claims that the TPS is “fully committed” to the implementations of recommendations that help combat the issue of police violence are baseless. The murder of another young black man on the early morning of July 25th in Toronto’s Entertainment District is clear evidence of what this “commitment” actually looks like in practice.
Tory and Mukherjee’s vagueness, ambiguity, and a lack of concrete solutions in response to the continued violence committed against Black people and those with mental health issues are deliberate. They claim to be committed to eliminating racism and violence within the TPS, pretending that the TPS itself cannot exist without being racist and violent. Too many people have lost their lives at the hands of police, and the city has done and will do nothing to stop it.