FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 24, 2016
A Statement of Solidarity with Black Lives Matter Toronto Coalition and #BLMTOtentcity
On Sunday March 20th 2016, Black Lives Matter Toronto (BLM TO) organized a peaceful protest at Nathan Phillip’s Square in response to results of Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit which recommended against charging the officer who shot and killed 45 year old Andrew Loku in July of 2015 and imposed a reduction of days to the yearly 2-day Afrofest event. Protesters relocated to Police Headquarters at Young and College and set up tent city urging the city to respond appropriately to the ongoing disregard for all Black lives in the city of Toronto. Police responded aggressively in the presence of elders and children, where physical violence ensued. BLM TO is currently holding strong with the support of community members who donated much-needed food and supplies in keeping the team strong and vibrant.
Independent Jewish Voices – Toronto (IJV-Toronto) is the local chapter of IJV Canada, which is a national human rights organization whose mandate is to promote a just resolution to the conflict in Israel and Palestine through the application of international law and respect for the human rights of all parties. IJV supports the right of those who criticize and challenge the current laws and policies of the State of Israel, including through the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. As a community dedicated to transparency in action and who stand in solidarity for the rights of Palestinians oppressed by Israel and its government, we stand in solidarity with BLM TO who locally battle daily systemic anti-black racism.
We urge Mayor John Tory to act on his proclamation for the Day of the Elimination for Racial Discrimination and to “reaffirm [their] commitment to building safe and inclusive societies” in a meaningful manner by hearing the demands from BLM TO for:
• The release of the name(s) of the officer(s) who killed Andrew Loku;
• Charges to be laid against the officers who killed Mr. Loku;
• The immediate and public release of any video footage from the apartment complex of Andrew Loku on the night he was murdered;
• An apology to the family of Andrew Loku and monetary compensation;
• An overhaul of the Special Investigations Unit, with adequate consultation from families victimized by police violence, the Black community, and the community-at-large;
• A reversal to all city-mandated changes imposed on Afrofest, including its restoration to a 2-day festival.