By TOM GODFREY
Hundreds of vocal Toronto residents joined fellow protesters in the U.S. in rallies against the police killing of young unarmed Black men by staging a die-in last weekend at Yonge and Dundas Square.
About 300 demonstrators laid across the intersection for four-and-a-half minutes to symbolize the four-and-a-half hours Michael Brown was left lying on the road after he was shot by officers in Ferguson, Mo., that sparked U.S.-wide anti-police protests.
The Toronto protesters are calling for charges to be laid against a Peel Regional Police officer for the death of Jermaine Carby, who was shot and killed at a Brampton traffic stop last Sept. 25.
Carby’s mom, Lorna Robinson, said she is seeking answers and is hoping charges will be laid against the officer who shot her son. That case is still under investigation.
The demonstrators, mostly young Blacks and Whites, chanted “Black lives matter” and “Hands up, don’t shoot” as they marched from City Hall.
Many wanted Dr. Alok Mukherjee to remain as chair of the Toronto Police Services Board despite calls for his resignation by the police association stemming from a controversial posting on Facebook.
Toronto mayor John Tory was officially slated to take his seat on the high-profile Board that met last Monday. Calls for Dr. Mukherjee’s resignation was among many of the issues to be discussed at the meeting.
Sandy Hudson, an event organizer, said the U.S. situation affects Blacks here who are regularly carded and subjected to racial profiling by police officers.
“This isn’t an issue that is not only prevalent in the United States, it is an issue that affects people here as well,” said Hudson. “We can stop this.”
Protester Cathy Smith Uffen noted that Toronto cops on bicycles led the protest, while in the U.S. cops who attended the protests there were reprimanded.
Members of Black Lives Matter Toronto, who organized the event, said they were also protesting against a New York City cop who was not charged by a grand jury for the chokehold killing of Eric Garner, a father of six.
The final minutes of Garner’s life was captured on video. It showed him being pinned face down on the sidewalk by four officers, during which he repeatedly said “I can’t breathe.” His statement has become a chant for demonstrators.
The downtown protest was part of a North American-wide day of action against U.S. police and the treatment of Black youth. There was a huge demonstration led by civil rights leader Al Sharpton in Washington, D.C.
The group was formed in 2001 after Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in Florida. George Zimmerman was acquitted in the death of the 17-year-old.
They have posted a list of demands online asking the U.S. government to lay charges against the Ferguson cop who killed Brown and to stop supplying surplus military weapons to local police forces.
Officials of Black Lives Matter are also calling for the release of the names of all U.S. cops who were involved in incidents where Blacks were killed in the last five years to determine if charges can be laid.
They also want fewer funds allocated for police services and more to help the poor.