by Nathaniel Jote, Shafiqullah Aziz, Steve da Silva
Concerned residents and community members gathered at a vigil on Christmas eve for Jermaine Carby, a Brampton man who was shot and killed by Peel Regional Police three months earlier. The gathering rallied about 50 members at the location of Carby’s murder, near Queen and Kennedy, where members of the Justice for Jermaine Carby Campaign along with friends, family, activists, and community members participated in an hour long blockade of the busy Brampton intersection.
Carby’s cousin La Tanya Grant, a lead member of the Justice for Jermaine campaign, stated that the vigil was held, “to bring awareness, to let [police] know that we are not going to stop, that we are going to keep coming in the media eye to demand answers for Jermaine.”
Carby was shot on September 24, shortly after being stopped by police for undisclosed reasons. Witnesses have stated that he had his hands up or was slowly approaching the officer who shot him, claims consistent with the gunshot wound to his inner left forearm which his autopsy indicated.
Grant spoke about his death as a personal tragedy, but also emphasised that it was only one moment in the red record of the Peel Police.
“A young man died and nothing is happening,” said Brampton resident Amuna, who went to highschool with Michael Wade Lawson, the 17-year-old who was also shot and killed by Peel Region Police officers in 1988 in the back of the head by an illegal 38-calibre slug known as a “hot bullet” which expands on contact, banned in Ontario by the Ontario Police Act. Lawson’s murder, and the mass protests it set off, contributed to the creation of the S.I.U. a couple years later.
But nearly a quarter century later, organizers with the Justice for Jermaine campaign see little use for the S.I.U. except to “cover up” police actions, and put families on ice while community anger dissipates. Among the demands of the campaign included, disbanding the S.I.U., which organizers brought up “clears officers of wrongdoing at a rate of 98%.” The campaign is also demanding:
- That the name of the officer who shot Carby be released.
- That the name of the person in whose vehicle Carby was a passenger be released.
- Immediate public disclosure of whether a knife was recovered at the scene.
Police cruisers quickly showed up. They attempted to isolate the vigil by blocking off the roads around the intersection, but met with limited success for some time. While two or three drivers expressed anger at the vigil participants, uttering death threats to organizers right in front of Peel police, many others joined in, and some passersby shouted encouragement.
An inconvenienced driver threatens to the cops that he “run ’em over” if protestors are not removed by the police, while flailing his arms in the cops’ faces. How many people of colour could get away with uttering death threats and aggressively approaching the police? As one protestor mockingly hollered at this perturbed little man, “Hang on buddy, you’ll get to have that eggnog soon enough!” #white privilege #white terror
One protester, who saw Jermaine like a big brother told BASICS, “I was homeless and he gave me a home. This was the kind of person he was… He helped me find a place… Why did they take him from me? He was my older brother and I love him so much, and I will not forget him.”
After almost an hour, the intersection was clear in all four directions but for the police roadblocks. The campaign organizers, buoyed by the strong impression they had made and the solidarity the participants had shown, thanked everyone in attendance. Shortly before the end of the vigil, a CityTV team showed up, but did not speak to any of the participants, and quickly left when it became clear that things were winding down. No other major media outlet was present.
For a video essay of the rally, see the following video