Black Lives Matter protestors talk about their two-week protest—and when it might end

Black Lives Matter protestors talk about their two-week protest—and when it might end

Black Lives Matter Toronto (Images: Giordano Ciampini)
 

Since March 20, Black Lives Matter activists have occupied a makeshift camp outside the main entrance to Toronto Police headquarters. The uproar began after the police Special Investigations Unit decided neither to press charges in the July shooting death of Andrew Loku nor release the name of the officer responsible. The protest group’s leaders say they won’t leave until they see some sign that Toronto’s city government is taking their demands seriously, but individual demonstrators have their own private lists of concerns. Here’s what some of them had to say on Friday, when asked what would have to happen before they’d consider going home.

(Image: Giordano Ciampini) (Image: Giordano Ciampini)
 

Chrys Saget-Richard, 23-year-old Ryerson student
Number of days spent protesting: 13

“I hope to make change in the education system. I want to see a full reform. We’re being pushed out of schools. That’s a cycle, and it has serious repercussions. I will stay as long as it takes. If the community wants to stay longer, we will stay here longer.”

(Image: Giordano Ciampini) (Image: Giordano Ciampini)
 

Naila Lalji, 40-year-old volunteer programming coordinator
Number of days spent protesting: Three

“I do a lot of work on social justice issues, particularly in the Jane and Finch area. That community continues to have a lot of issues around police brutality against mostly black men. I don’t think this protest is going to cause fundamental change, but I do think the police should at least address the demands of Black Lives Matter.”

(Image: Giordano Ciampini) (Image: Giordano Ciampini)
 

Alexandria Williams, 27-year-old vice president of campus life for the York Federation of Students (and one of the founders of Black Lives Matter Toronto)
Number of days spent protesting: 13

“They need to meet our demands. So we will be here as long as the community is comfortable and safe being here. And the thing is, it’s not like we’re asking for a lot. If you get a parking ticket, you’ve got your officer’s name. You see them in court when you show up. But if they kill someone you don’t get their name. That doesn’t make sense. They are waiting for us to tire out. But two weeks later we’re still playing music and saying, ‘Fuck the police.'”

(Image: Giordano Ciampini) (Image: Giordano Ciampini)
 

Kevin Lunianga, 23-year-old flight attendant
Number of days spent protesting: One

“In Canada, issues around anti-blackness are often shrugged off because the policing problems here aren’t as bad as they are in the US. We need to shift that thinking. Only once people believe that race is an issue in Canada can we begin to create change.”

(Image: Giordano Ciampini) (Image: Giordano Ciampini)
 

Troy Jackson, 45-year-old performer
Number of days spent protesting: One

“I have family in the police services and the RCMP. But all police, including my family members, need to be held accountable for their actions. We need an overseer who is not police-involved. For me to stop protesting, there needs to be an overhaul of the SIU. It needs to be public. The police should not be policing themselves. Whoever thinks that’s smart probably works for the police services.”

(Image: Giordano Ciampini) (Image: Giordano Ciampini)
 

Christina Griffin, 28-year-old union organizer from Los Angeles
Number of days spent protesting: Five

“For BLM Toronto I want the same thing I want for all the Black Lives Matter groups: for our demands to be met. Because that’s the only way our communities will get justice.”

(Image: Giordano Ciampini) (Image: Giordano Ciampini)
 

Paul Farfratis, 25-year-old social worker at St. Stephen’s Community House
Number of days spent protesting: One

“I want the police to be more involved in low-income communities, because it’s more likely that they’ll go into a low-income community than a middle-class area. The police should figure out a way to partner with smaller services that help youths. That way young people can have a chance to get to know officers better, and the officers will also get a chance to meet these kids.”

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