Call to Action Against White Supremacy and Police Violence
On May 27, 2020, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year-old Afro-Indigenous woman, suffered a horrific death during an interaction with Toronto police. Just eight days later, Chantel Moore, an Indigenous woman from Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, was killed by New Brunswick police during another police interaction, dubiously referred to in the media as a “wellness check.” These devastating incidents are the latest in the countless acts of state violence targeting Black and Indigenous people in Canada, and are part of a broader longstanding history of white-supremacist colonial oppression. These incidents also occur in the context of a long history of fatalities in encounters between police and people experiencing mental distress.
We are outraged and grief-stricken over these egregious injustices, and so many others. To our Black and Indigenous community members: we cry, rage, and stand with you.
As an organization committed to the dismantling of oppressive systems, the Law Union strongly urges its white and non-Black/non-Indigenous members to reflect deeply on privilege, positionality and complacency, and commit to taking action against anti-Black/anti-Indigenous racism and lethal policing of people in mental distress. As Dr. Angela Davis generously teaches us, “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be antiracist.”
Taking action can take many forms, both short and long term. In the short term, it involves exerting pressure on governments and institutions to take these tragedies seriously, as the details of what happened will not come to light unless we demand them collectively. It involves contacting elected representatives and civil servants to demand transparency and accountability. It could mean attending (safely) a protest. We highlight the demands brought forth by the organizers of the protest in Toronto on May 30th: an independent investigation into the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, oversight of the SIU, and charges brought to the officers involved. It could also involve direct economic support for the families of Chantel Moore (https://gf.me/u/x656jt), Regis Korchinski-Paquet (https://gf.me/u/x489am) and/or groups on the front lines fighting for justice for Black and Indigenous peoples, and other peoples of colour (e.g. https://blacklivesmatter.ca/donate/; https://www.blacklegalactioncentre.ca/;
In the long term, crucially, taking action must include an unwavering commitment to the deliberate and constant deepening of one’s understanding of the oppressive structures that systematically privilege whiteness and ableness in our society, and the essential concurrent commitment to rip these structures down at every opportunity. One resource can be found here: https://www.shanisilver.com/home/2020/5/27/anti-racism-resources-for-my-white-friends-amp-readers
Let us take care of each other. Let us transform our anger and grief into solidarity and courage in the fight for Justice and a better world.
The Law Union of Ontario