The brutal murder of George Floyd by racist police officers in Minneapolis is another tragic example of White Supremacy and Anti-Black racism. Jane Finch Action Against Poverty (JFAAP) strongly condemns this racist killing and abhorrent violation of the basic human right to life.
The concept of human rights for Black, Indigenous and other Racialized people is only a malicious fiction in many of our communities. Black, Indigenous and other racialized people continue to be viewed as less than human, as “rights” are violated on a daily basis. The United States and Canada have not only never dealt with their history of enslavement and colonization in any meaningful or substantive way, but they in fact have consistently advanced to this present day racist and white supremacist policies and practices in North America and the Global South in newer forms and shapes.
In the videos shared on social media and in witness accounts, a handcuffed George Floyd was restrained by officer Derek Chauvin who kneeled on his neck for seven minutes while three other police officers were either tolerant of the murder or assisted in killing him. George Floyd said that he could not breathe. He asked them to stop. Bystanders were pleading for them to stop. The police did not and chose hatred and dominance over George Floyd’s safety. This was a blatant disregard for human life, dignity and so-called “rights” he had as a human being.
This heinous act is more serious than the charges of third degree murder and manslaughter that were eventually laid against officer Chauvin. These charges must be upgraded. The other three responsible officers must also be immediately charged and made to answer for the part they played in this murder. They too failed George Floyd, not just the officer pressing the knee.
This unacceptable and insulting response is part of the systemic racist structures that Black people experience at the hands of White Supremacy daily. This is intentional and structural violence and police brutality that reinforces Anti-Black racism.
We, in Canada, are not immune from this toxic culture of police violence and racism despite having a “Charter of Rights and Freedoms”:
Between 2000 and 2017, 699 police officers were involved in fatal interactions with the public. Canada’s national police force, the RCMP, was responsible for the most (176), followed by municipal forces in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. The vast majority of officers faced no charges. 49 incidents are still under investigation, and only 11 resulted in the laying of manslaughter charges according to data provided by the CBC. Out of the 460 fatal incidents, only three murder charges were laid against police officers, and all were second-degree.https://www.pivotlegal.org/17_years_of_police_violence_in_canada.
In Canada’s major cities most victims of police killing and violence have been Black, Indigenous and other Racialized people, and also people with mental health issues. Victims include those targeted by deliberate police violence, as well as a lack of appropriate, responsible and accountable policing strategies. Black, Racialized, and Indigenous people struggling with mental health who reach out to police for help are most vulnerable. This week, in the High Park area of Toronto, a mother lost a daughter when Regis Korchiniski-Paquet fell to her death from a balcony, following a suspicious police intervention. The family rightly believes that her death was preventable.
In the Jane-Finch Community, one of the poorest and most diverse neighbourhoods in Canada, we have a long history of police violence. There is a strong sense that our community is under siege, in a constant state of police surveillance and militarization. The neighbourhood has always dealt with police violence including harassment, violent arrests and violations of human rights. The practice of illegal and degrading strip-searches at police stations following arrest is well-documented. (see R. v. Tashanna Mullings, 2019 ONSC 2408, Ontario Superior Court of Justice and R. v. Shawn Coutain, December 5, 2019, Ontario Court of Justice (1000 Finch Avenue West Courthouse, Toronto) regarding strip-searches.)
JFAAP stands in solidarity with the families of George Floyd, Ahmaud Abrey, Breonne Taylor and, here in Toronto, the family of Regis Korchiniski-Paquet, along with friends and all those in struggle on the ground who have and are currently resisting Police Violence in all its forms in Minneapolis, across the US, Canada, in Jane-Finch and all over the world.
- Transparency and swift accountability in all cases of injury or death involving police;
- That those responsible in the killing of George Floyd be arrested and held to account;
- That police stop repressing and arresting protesters asking for justice and equality; and
- That police stop arresting reporters who are trying to cover the protests.
We support the Black Lives Matter’s demands:
- Acknowledgment and accountability for our pain and injustice;
- Divestment in the police force; and
- Investment in the health and prosperity of our communities.
We are exhausted, but still determined.
We are hurt and angry, but still united.
We will never stop.
In solidarity: Jane Finch Action Against Poverty (JFAAP)