Segun Akinsanya

I spent my teens running with street gangs. They gave me a sense of power and belonging that I couldn’t find anywhere else. Then I got into a knife fight in a Coffee Time bathroom—and the other guy wound up dead

Iwas born in December 1987 in Lagos, Nigeria. My parents gave me a traditional Nigerian name: Oluwasegun Olufemi Akinsanya. Oluwasegun (Segun for short) means “God will help me conquer,” Olufemi means “God will have mercy,” and Akinsanya translates as “warrior who gets revenge.” When I think about my name now, I believe it meant my destiny was written: that I would go down a dark path, fail, and find redemption. I’m still working on that last part.

When I was two, our family moved to Canada and settled in rural Quebec—all trees and open farmland. My dad, Johnson, was a chemist who got his degree at the University of Waterloo and later ran a water filtration business in St. Bernardin. My mom, Mosunmola, pursued a nursing degree. Our house was huge, at the end of a long, winding driveway. We had to drive to a nearby farm to pick up our eggs, and our neighbours had two cows that I called John and Deere. For our first few years in Canada, it all went well. I won math awards at school and learned how to play chess with my sister. My dad would make me write essays when I got home—education was very important to him. He wanted me to become a doctor.

Everything changed one weekend in February 1996. My three older sisters and I were home alone when we heard a knock at the door. My sister Morayo answered and found a police officer looking for my dad. He whispered a few words to her, and she dropped to the floor and started screaming. “Mommy’s dead, Mommy’s dead.” It turned out my mom had been driving through a snowstorm on a nearby road—she couldn’t have been going more than 10 kilometres per hour. Another car hit her from behind and knocked her into a ditch, killing her instantly. I was eight years old.

Over the next few years, I acted out at school. First I kept getting detention. Then I was being sent to the principal’s office. Once, when a group of older boys on the school bus called me nigger, I started throwing punches at them. I came home with a bloody lip, and soon, for one reason or another, I was in trouble for fighting practically every week.

By Grade 7, we had moved to an apartment in Toronto, near Victoria Park and O’Connor, so my dad could be closer to a woman he was dating. One day, I walked down a huge grassy hill to the basketball court behind a nearby housing complex. I was trying to make friends, and that was where everyone went after school. I saw a few guys from my class, and when they asked me if I wanted to hang out, I said yes. One guy socked me hard in the nose—and then everyone joined in. They didn’t stop kicking and punching me until I was crying on the ground. Suddenly, everything was fine, and we were back to doing kid stuff. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was an initiation into the crew.

Segun Akinsanya
BOYHOOD The author’s family immigrated to Canada from Lagos, Nigeria, in 1987. Mosunmola and Johnson are shown here with their children, Titi, Abi, Morayo and Segun (in his father’s arms). (Image: Courtesy of Segun Akinsanya)

A few months later, I noticed a man hanging around the neighbourhood. He was a tall, quiet guy—he seemed ancient to me then, but I realize now he was probably in his 20s. We called him Mr. T. He used to give us $5 here and there, or buy us a Big Mac for lunch. He was nice to us. He took care of us. So when he asked me to help him out one day, I jumped at the chance. He gave me and my friend a brown paper bag, and told us to stand outside a convenience store and hand it off to another guy. I didn’t look inside the bag, but I knew it was full of drugs.

We loitered outside the store, and the owner came out to shoo us away. I argued a bit, but eventually I left—and went straight to Mr. T to tell him what happened. He walked back with us to the store and told us to wait outside. Then I watched him go inside and bash the owner’s head on the counter casually, like it was nothing. After a few minutes, the owner came out and apologized to us. It was like magic. One second we were nobody, and the next we had the power. A few weeks later, a bunch of friends and I were caught stealing some yo-yos from another corner store, and the cops brought me home. My dad was so disappointed. Neither of us knew then that it would turn out to be the first of many times I’d end up in the back of a police cruiser.

Cops always talk about getting young black men off the streets. Stopping us before we take that first step. But they have it wrong. Nobody takes a first step into gang activity. Toronto police use the term “gang” to describe anything from four boys playing dice on the corner to a full-fledged Hells Angels crew. I don’t like the word. What they’re really referring to is a group of people banding together—opportunists without opportunities. There are an estimated 6,000 kids involved in gang activity in the GTA, but these groups are a lot smaller than many people think. And they’re not organized into intricate hierarchies like you see on TV. Most of them are based on where people live, particularly in low-income neighbourhoods or community housing complexes. Lots of these crews don’t even think of themselves as gangs—they’re just a bunch of guys trying to get by.

I entered that world in the summer before Grade 9, when my family moved to a townhouse near Morningside and Lawrence. My dad was still running his business in Quebec, and he was travelling so much for work that I barely saw him. I felt like I didn’t have anyone in my life. The summer before high school began, I met a kid my age—I’ll call him Michael—at the local community centre. (I’ve changed his name and a few others to protect their anonymity.) I was in awe of Michael. His pants were perfectly baggy, creased and tucked into his socks. His parents had good jobs, and he would always have the new Air Force 1 Nikes. We hung out all the time, smoking weed and playing Cee-lo, a dice game. By the time I started school in September, I was smoking and gambling every day.

I quickly discovered that Michael’s older brothers were associates of the Galloway Boys. The gang formed in the late ’80s, and over the next three decades was involved in drug trafficking, gun running and prostitution. I wanted to be just like them, so I started wearing gang insignia—including blue bandanas, the Galloway trademark—as a way to let the world know I was part of it, too. I used to walk around with a baseball bat to intimidate people. I didn’t even need to use it: just holding it was enough for me to feel powerful. I didn’t want to be that good guy doing his homework in the corner. He was invisible. I wanted people to see me. And for the first time, they did. I was popular.

One day, I was walking down the street with Michael and another friend when we saw a kid with a nice CD player. So we snatched it, pawned it, bought McDonald’s for dinner, and saved the rest for dice. That night, at home, a cop came knocking on my door—the kid had reported the theft, and Michael and our other friend had snitched on me. I was the new guy in the neighbourhood, the lowest on the totem pole. It was my job to take the fall for them. I got house arrest and one year’s probation.

It was my first criminal charge. I should have been terrified, but back then, it didn’t faze me. It was a street stripe—it helped boost my reputation. Guys were more afraid of me, less likely to start a fight. And we were always fighting. If you didn’t retaliate, you were a punk, a baby. Guys would even flash guns on school property. Once, I was at a party in Cataraqui, a housing complex near Warden and Danforth. We were outside smoking a joint, when about 30 guys from a rival gang showed up, and one had something in his hand. Just as I registered that it was a gun, I heard a pop. I ran as fast as I could, jumped over a fence into a field and sprinted all the way back to Warden station. Only then did I realize my shirt was ripped and I was bleeding. I’d been grazed by the bullet.

I skipped school one day toward the end of Grade 9 to play dice with three Galloway Boys in one of their basements. Within an hour, I’d lost $1,700. I’m sure they set me up. I didn’t have the money, so every day for the next month, when I saw these guys at school, I’d give them a payment of something, anything I could scrounge together. They didn’t even have to threaten me; I knew what happened to people who didn’t pay back what they owed. They’d get beaten, robbed, sometimes even shot. I would do whatever it took to clear my debt.

Soon, I was robbing people with my friends from the neighbourhood. You know those subway rats, who loiter at Kennedy, Vic Park and Main stations? That was us. We’d target anyone with money or nice stuff—stereos, headphones, shoes, glasses, anything we thought we could pawn. It was easy: there were enough of us to just swarm somebody and pounce. We’d flash a knife, maybe grab them or push them around. Sometimes we just threatened to beat them up; other times we went through with it. Most people never screamed or resisted: they just handed over their stuff. The police only got involved if the TTC collector saw what happened and reported it. I used my take to pay back my gambling debt.

My family didn’t stay long in Scarborough. My dad married his girlfriend, and just before I started Grade 10 we all moved to Whitby, where I attended Father Leo J. Austin, a Catholic high school. As a kid from Galloway, I had instant cred. I told my new friends about all the stuff I’d done, all the people I’d robbed. To kids in the suburbs where this stuff rarely happened, I seemed cool. Before, I was a follower, but now people turned to me as a leader, and I liked it. There weren’t any power players in Whitby. The guys I met were looking for somebody to follow. Everyone was always turning to me, asking me what to do. They called me Young’un.

One night, a bunch of us were at a house party in Whitby, and a beautiful girl came in on the arm of a guy from another school. My friends decided they didn’t like that she was dating him—it was like, “How did he get her?” They wanted to do something about it, but they needed my say-so. So we jumped the guy. Later, over MSN messenger, he said he wanted to fight me. Galloway thinking popped back into my head: I knew I couldn’t back down. The next day, I skipped school with my friends. I was so popular by this point that half the school left with us. I was like the Pied Piper—a whole line of kids snaked behind me, eager to watch the fight. When I got to this guy’s school, he came out shaking, but I was revved up. I saw his fear. “You can either fight me or embarrass yourself,” I told him. He backed away, and I knew it was over. He’d chosen humiliation. I told him to take off his pants and left him outside in his boxers. Then, my friends told him he needed to pay me $50 twice a month for the trouble he’d caused.

He called the police and exaggerated the story—in his version, I’d pulled a knife and threatened to kill him. The next day, I was arrested at school, and charged with extortion, possession of a weapon, threatening death and violating my probation. I was sentenced to three more years of probation and 150 hours of community service. My dad was furious. He grounded me and forbade me from hanging around with those “street boys,” as he called them. It didn’t matter. He was still working and travelling a lot, and I took advantage of that. As soon as he left, I was gone—back out with my friends, smoking weed, causing trouble. My three older sisters—straight-A students, all of them—were sad about my behaviour, but they weren’t surprised. It seemed normal to them that a young black guy would act that way.

After six months in Whitby, my school’s vice-principal suspended me for the rest of the semester for being drunk at school—he said I was a bad influence on my peers. While my sisters were preparing for university, I was starting Grade 11 at Durham Alternative Secondary School, or DASS, in Oshawa. It’s where kids go when they’ve been kicked out of the regular school stream. At DASS, we only went to school for half a day. Most of us took two classes, max. If you took three classes, you were a nerd. They didn’t teach us much—mostly cooking and crafts. We had to take English and math to earn a diploma, but the academic expectations were much lower than at a regular school. I spent a lot of my time there gambling, smoking weed and trying to hook up with girls. I hated it there. It seemed like a place they dumped kids the system had given up on.

I was walking home with some new friends one day when I spotted the kid I’d stripped and embarrassed—the one who reported me to the police. I told my friends who he was and how he’d lied about me to the cops. They ended up chasing him down the street to his house, where he ran inside. When I got home, I saw a police cruiser outside of my house. My heart sank. I ended up pleading guilty to violation of probation and was sentenced to 30 days at Brookside, a juvenile detention centre in Cobourg.

The day I was released, my dad and sisters were supposed to come get me. Three or four hours passed, and nobody showed up, so I took the bus home. When I got to my house, I found it all locked up, with an eviction notice posted on the front door. I broke in and realized my family hadn’t been there for a while: the heat was off and the fridge was full of rotten food. I couldn’t reach my family, and I just snapped. I stole the keys to my dad’s van, which was still there, and used it to go visit some friends. We decided I needed to hustle to make money, so we planned a string of robberies—we stole drugs and around $2,000 in cash from three or four drug dealers.

I slept at my abandoned house and crashed with friends for about a week before my oldest sister, Morayo, finally called me. She said my dad’s diabetes had gotten bad and he was too sick to work, so he’d gone to live with one of our aunts. Then my sisters had moved out. They figured I’d be fine. Segun can take care of himself, they thought. My sister Abi, who was studying health management at York, agreed to let me move in with her at her apartment near Jane and Finch. No regular schools would take me, so I enrolled at Monsignor Fraser, another alternative school. Just like DASS, it focused on life skills instead of academics. I was back to cooking breakfast for class credit.

When I first started running with gangs in Grade 9, it was so I could be cool, so I could fit in. By the time I became involved in gang activity near Jane and Finch, it was because I didn’t see another option. I thought maybe, if I made some quick money, I could become a real estate mogul. I started selling drugs, mostly weed and coke, some ecstasy. I even tried cooking crack. My friends and I were always planning. Plotting. Smoking weed and thinking about our big hit—the one that would make us enough money to stop. As a small-time drug dealer, I was barely making minimum wage; you have to sell a lot of dime bags to get rich. In the year I was living at Jane and Finch, I only earned about $15,000. I spent it on a 1992 Nissan Altima. I didn’t want to sell heroin, or meth, or large quantities of weed. You have to decide where you draw the line, and when you’re moving hard drugs, you have to be prepared to die—or to kill someone in an instant. I couldn’t do that to my family.

At this point, I wasn’t in any specific gang—I was friends with a lot of different crews. And most of my friends were carrying guns. One day, early in 2006, I was at my friend Tyler’s apartment, and he was cleaning his gun. He asked me if I wanted to hold it. I’d seen a lot of guns. I’d seen people threaten to shoot. I’d been shot myself. But I’d never had my own gun. It was a 20-gauge pump shotgun. When I shoved it down my pants, it went from my hip past my knee. I thought, Now I know why we limp. I asked Tyler if I could borrow it, and he agreed that we could share it. It was just like when I was 14 and carried a baseball bat: it made me feel powerful. Guns are made to take things. And that’s how I used mine. While I never shot it, I always flashed it when I was robbing drug dealers. I thought I was untouchable. I soon realized I wasn’t.

Segun Akinsanya
STREET LIFE The author pictured in 2005, a year before he was convicted of manslaughter in the stabbing death of Danilo Celestino. (Image: Facebook)

On April 20, 2006, I finished an English exam at school and went searching for some weed—it was Bob Marley Day. I met up with some friends at Downsview Collegiate and walked to a Coffee Time at the corner of Keele and Wilson. My friend Nathan saw Danilo Celestino, a 17-year-old kid he knew who he thought might have some weed for sale. When we walked to the bathrooms to make a deal, I went in and Nathan stood outside to guard the door. Before negotiating, Celestino asked me about the people I knew. I was friends with somebody who had beaten his friend with a metal pipe for trying to rob his car. Things quickly got heated between us—we argued about the pipe incident, whose fault it was. I turned to leave. “Fuck this shit,” I said.

Suddenly I felt like I’d been punched in the head, twice. He’d stabbed me in the back of my neck, close to my cerebellum. I turned around to see he was holding a knife with a dragon handle. It was covered in blood. I don’t remember what happened next, not really. I remember him coming at me with the bloody knife. We fought, and I got the blade. I ended up stabbing him three times; I learned later that one of the cuts sliced his aorta. He staggered outside the Coffee Time and crumpled on the ground.

Nathan came running into the bathroom and told me we had to go. I remember looking in the mirror. I had on a white Mickey Mouse hoodie—it was now red, soaked through with blood. Nathan shouted at me to move. I splashed some water on my face, grabbed the knife off the ground and ran. At that moment, nothing was registering. I was in shock—I couldn’t believe what I’d done. As I ran away up Wilson, I saw a cop driving down to the coffee shop. We made eye contact as she drove by. Then I was gone.

I dumped my bloody hoodie in the park, then raced to a friend’s house. I didn’t want to go home. I turned on CP24, where the incident had made breaking news. They were reporting that Celestino had been rushed to the hospital. For a moment, I was hopeful: maybe he’d be okay. I kept watching the news, feeling sick to my stomach as I waited to hear more about Celestino. My face was soaked in sweat, and I could barely breathe. After a few minutes, my friend called and told me he’d heard Celestino was dead.

I didn’t want to believe it—I knew my life was about to change forever. I went to the park and sat on a bench, trying to figure out my next move. For a few days, I waited. Even though I knew I’d have to turn myself in, I wanted to put it off as long as possible. I went to class. I took my exams. But I couldn’t think about anything other than what I had done. Four days later, I found out the police had security footage from the Coffee Time before the fight. My time was up.

My lawyer believed the Crown would charge me with manslaughter. I was shocked to find out that they’d slapped me with second-degree murder, which means they thought the act was premeditated. I was facing a potential life sentence. The court sent me to Maplehurst Correctional Complex in Milton for a few months, and then to the Don Jail while I waited for trial.

The Don was just as bad as I’d always heard: grey, rusty and overcrowded. The other prisoners mostly left me alone, because my charge, second-degree murder, gave me a certain amount of respect. I was lucky that my cellmate liked me—he was happy to have someone he could play chess with. He was also violent: he’d been fighting so much that the warden had sent him to solitary for a few weeks before I got there. He wasn’t back in the cell for long before he retaliated against another inmate—the guy was supposed to sell drugs for him but stole them instead. People smuggle all sorts of things into jail: heroin, coke, oxy, weed, hash, anything. I even heard about people smuggling gun parts into the Don, stuffing them up their asses. My cellmate used his pull with the guards to get the inmate he was after, who was a drug addict, transferred to our block. He and some of his friends yanked the guy out of his cell shortly after, and beat him, badly. They pissed on the guy, then took paper towels and rolled them into wicks, lit them and burned him all over. By the time they dumped him back in his cell, he was covered in blood. He lived, but barely. All of us in the range were confined to our cells for a week.

I’d been in custody for 13 months when 15-year-old Jordan Manners was shot dead at C. W. Jefferys near Jane and Finch. The public was clamouring for a crackdown on street violence. My crime had made all the papers, and the Crown wanted to make an example of me. If I went to trial, they said they’d get my friends to turn on me. There was a good chance I’d be convicted. Or I could take a plea: they were willing to settle for manslaughter, with a five-year sentence, including the time I’d served awaiting trial. That meant I’d be in prison two years and 10 months, max. I didn’t want to risk a life sentence. I pleaded guilty.

The hearing was surreal. I think about it every day. All of the victim’s friends and family—his parents, his brother, his cousin—filled up one side of the courtroom. The other was packed with school kids who were there on a field trip to learn about the judicial system. Celestino’s family read victim impact statements. His mom sobbed through her words, talking about how her son had hoped to start a career as a computer technician and how he’d volunteered to help with Pope John Paul II’s Toronto visit in 2002. His dad, who’d moved the family to Canada from the Philippines, lamented how hard he’d worked to make sure his kids would have a future.

I did my time at Fenbrook, a medium-security prison in Gravenhurst that’s now part of Beaver Creek. It looked like a big college campus. There were five ranges around a circle, and in the middle, there was a soccer field, community centre, gym, library, programming room and barbershop. There was even a grocery store and a wood shop where you could build furniture. It didn’t seem so bad at first.

I relied on the same old power structures. I used my conviction as a street stripe. But as the weeks went by, I fell into a depression. My dad was still sick, so he couldn’t visit me very often, and my sisters were busy with school. I was all alone. At one point, I remember talking on the phone with an old girlfriend and telling her I felt like I’d died. Like the old me was gone. I was still just thinking about myself.

One day, after I’d been in jail for about a year, my dad came to visit. I hadn’t seen him in a few months, and his health had improved. It seemed like everything had changed between us—for the first time, he treated me like a man, not a wayward kid. He walked outside with me, his hands behind his back, telling me he could help me change, but only if I wanted to. At the same time, I started meeting every few days with a priest who worked at the prison. We’d talk for hours about my past. The mistakes I’d made. The person I wanted to become.

Throughout all this, I’d been attending anger management sessions as part of my sentence. One day, I was talking to my facilitator, who was giving us exercises for controlling our frustration. When he told me to count to 10, something bubbled up inside me and I just lost it. I thought, He doesn’t even know why I’m angry! He doesn’t know what led me here. At that moment, I realized that neither did I. I needed to sit down and think about what I had gone through. Many young men in jail had faced the same barriers as I did. If I figured out where I went wrong, maybe I could help myself and others like me.

For the next six months, I became obsessed with writing a manual based on my own experience—a book that would help kids avoid getting into trouble. I conducted written surveys, asking fellow inmates what happened to bring them to incarceration. I was looking for common threads. And I found them: peer pressure, single-parent households, racism, low incomes, getting shunted around the education system, precarious housing. We were all just living up to our own stereotypes. I wanted to break the cycle.

I made a decision: as soon as I got out, I would look into launching programs for marginalized kids. I turned my manual into a curriculum that I could teach once I was released. It outlined three levels of criminal activity. There are the kingpins, who commit robberies and kidnappings, who are involved in drug and gun smuggling, and embody a “kill or be killed” mentality. There are the Scarfaces, who deal some drugs, steal cars and have a sense of invincibility. And there are the soldiers, who follow the crowd, commit minor thefts and buy drugs for personal use. I developed a curriculum to give kids the training they’d need to make better lives for themselves. They’d meet with reformed criminals and survivors of violence to learn about the impact on both perpetrators and prey. They’d learn leadership skills and take career-aptitude tests. They’d spend time with prisoners and ex-cons to see how they live and reintegrate back into society. I counted down the days until I could get out of prison and begin teaching my program. For the first time in my life, I was filled with hope and purpose.Segun Akinsanya

AFTER PRISON The author working with kids at Bright Future Alliance; at Currant with colleagues Nahum Mann and Presley Durga. (Images: Bright Future Alliance courtesy of Segun Akinsanya; Current by Luis Mora)
I made parole in February 2009, at age 21, after two years in prison. When Abi came to pick me up, I did a backflip in front of the jail. I remember looking back at the gates thinking, Wow, I was in there. As we drove along the rural roads near the jail, my brain was on autopilot: I’m free, I’m free, I’m free. We stopped for a Subway sandwich, and she bought me a new pair of shoes. That day, I moved in with my dad in King City, north of Toronto. It was my first time living with him since he got sick when I was 16.

I was still committed to my youth program, which I named Bright Future Alliance. For the first few weeks, I was on the computer every day, emailing philanthropic organizations, community centres and social justice workers about my idea, and I carried my 60-page program manual with me everywhere in a briefcase my family bought me. After a few months of cold calls and knocking on doors, I hooked up with an organization in Markham called Pathways, which later changed its name to 360 Degree Kids. They gave me the opportunity to run my first program: a martial arts class for youth ages 14 to 25. From there I was introduced to the Remix Project, a United Way partner that does programming for marginalized youth in underserved communities in the GTA.

At first, I kept in touch with a lot of my old friends. I thought I could maintain those relationships while still moving forward. My buddy Nathan brought a few girls to see me in King City one day. The whole time driving up, he’d bragged about what I’d done—he thought it would impress them. By the time they got to my house, he’d finished the story. They were horrified: they called me a murderer and took the bus home. It was heartbreaking. I wanted to move on—to be defined by something good—and Nathan was glorifying his association with me to gain credibility in the ’hood. I was more careful after that. I needed to cut those ties.

My first big break came in December 2009 from one of my mentors at the Laidlaw Foundation, which supports youth-run projects. One of my grant applications was successful, and they gave me $5,000 to run a pilot program. They said, “Let’s see what you can do.” It wasn’t much, and yet it was everything. I dropped to my knees and cried. I used the money to start a life skills program on Tuesdays and Thursdays for kids in my old neighbourhood at Vic Park and Eglinton. Around the same time, I enrolled in U of T’s bridging stream at Woodsworth College. I’d received my high school diploma in prison, but the course would help me get into university.

Soon, Bright Future Alliance received two more Laidlaw grants, for $25,000 and $35,000, which we used for our education programs. I was teaching in schools and running event-leadership seminars. Then came a $10,000 City of Toronto grant, from the Identify ’N Impact Investment Fund. Then a $5,000 Telus grant. I used it all to expand my programs: I was teaching kids how to transcend stereotypes and build their social capital.

But while my business was growing, I was struggling to keep the rest of my life afloat. I needed to make money—all my grant funding was going toward keeping my programs alive. For the longest time, I couldn’t find work. Interviewers liked me until I told them I was on parole for manslaughter. I applied for one job at a call centre, and as soon as it was done, the interviewer asked me when I could start. When I told him my backstory, he went to speak with his boss, then said he’d get back to me. He never did. And that’s how it always went. There were times I was broke. I was on and off welfare. I wasn’t eating very much. And I was depressed. I thought I’d never be able to escape my past.

After two years, I was appointed to a provincial advisory board called Stepping Stones, designed to help young people with their social and emotional development. Through that experience, I met members of the African Canadian Legal Clinic, an organization that works to address racism in the court system. They put me forward for a job opportunity with the clinic’s Youth Justice Education Program, which had received $2 million in funding to hire eight young men who would work with at-risk youth. In March 2012, I got the position—my first paying job. When my new boss called to tell me, I just cried on the phone.

The job gave me the boost I needed. It was so strange being on the other side. Some days, I was required to go to court with my team. I sat at the front of the courthouse with the lawyers—for once, I wasn’t one of the accused. We even travelled to Ghana to learn about the slave trade; it was my first time on a plane. The legal clinic paid off my student debt so I could start my BA in human geography at U of T. They also gave me a gym pass and medical benefits. I got a side gig selling branded credit cards at the mall, and I finally had enough money to buy myself a new car.

A few years ago, I teamed up with two other entrepreneurs: Nahum Mann, who ran a program called Youth Nation, and Ameen Binwalee, who founded Out of the Box, an organization for marginalized kids. We joined forces to form a co-op called Currant. We received a $25,000 Ontario Trillium Grant from the Youth Opportunities Fund to start a trades program, and participated in a two-day celebrity basketball game and artist showcase at Maple Leaf Gardens, which raised another $25,000. Around that time, someone from a charity called Working Women Community Centre reached out, inviting us to come work out of the Victoria Village Hub, a community space at Vic Park and Eglinton. It wasn’t cheap— $2,500 per month—but we took it. (Working Women was eventually able to help subsidize our rent.) We turned it into a workspace where we offer resources for local entrepreneurs. I work with amazing people who inspire me every day. Together, we’re helping others contribute to the health of their communities and giving those on the fringes a chance to succeed. In February, for example, we’re holding an event called the 6 Social at the Royal Conservatory of Music, designed to help kids improve their lives by using social media and technology.

At age 28, I wouldn’t say I’m “successful” in any conventional sense of the word. I’m struggling emotionally and financially—the work isn’t easy, and neither is life. I wish Danilo Celestino didn’t have to lose his life so I could find mine. But my career gives me a larger purpose. People always ask me if I’d change what happened, and I say no; you can’t change the past, but you can create your future. I’m alive today so I can share my story and heal. It’s been a long journey. My whole life I’ve wanted to be part of something bigger, but I always sought that out in negative ways. Now I’m part of something important and productive. I’m defined by something good.

129 thoughts on “My life in street gangs

  1. This is great work. It would also be helpful if you can give hints to highschool students – how to stay safe from gangs like those. How to not get picked on, abused or worse

  2. I read your whole story and It was very touching and inspiring. Sucess is only psychological, defined by everyone’s unique peceptions of life and what makes it “good”. In my books, you are the most successful person I’ve read about this year. How you have turned your life around is so impressive and admirable that I almost got all teary and emotional about your story. I will always remember you as the guy who went from carrying around weapons intimidating people to carrying around a briefcase knocking on doors to get funding so that 90 page manual can be passed along….amazing.

  3. That’s so awesome to be remembered like that. You put one hell of a smile on my face! Thank you soooo much!

  4. Cristian, I would love to! Although that such a complex conversation. My email address is on my website if you want to continue this conversation.

    Thanks for reading!

  5. I am in conflict. You see if it was about just you, your violence,
    your drugs, your tragedy and 360 degrees life turn around I would cheer. But
    you took someone’s life; Danilo Celestino (“DC”) that person could have been
    your story of DC turning his own life too. Man that is a hard pill to swallow. Living
    with that memory every day. That must hunt you. That must be tough. I still
    want to wish you to be strong, stay strong, and do not fall again. Please do
    find ways to honor DC’s life too. Do not forget, he gave his life so that you
    can live yours. Give DC and particularly his family something in return. Like a
    program named after him. Thanks.

  6. Thank you for sharing your story. I am sharing it with others. As a mother of a young black man I feel for what our sons face and how society in turn treat the reformed. I pray you remain on this path and I hope it leads you to even the alternate schools to motivate the young people attending ….showing them all is not lost.

  7. Thank you so much for sharing this story. I live in Brooklyn and I have a friend who works with marginalized youth at the YMCA in Bed-Stuy. I’m going to share your story with them. It’s people like you that make the world a better place. Thank you for everything you do. Never stop chasing the light.

  8. You are such an inspiration. I hope you are able to share your story in the schools; it really needs to be heard!

  9. Thank you for sharing this! In my work as a child advocate I encounter so many young men caught up in the same world you were in. Working hard to bring about change I our communities – addressing racism, poverty and the like. Thank you for the inspiration Segun! Will be sure to share your story with the youth I encounter!

  10. Segun, the moment I met you back in 2010 at 360kids, I saw a kid with great talent. Thank you for your courage in sharing your story, and for helping kids! Keep moving forward.
    Michael
    360kids

  11. When I started reading I thought how will this story end. You have been through so much and still you’ve made it your journey to help youths to not make the same mistakes. Your story is very inspiring, I’m glad that you’ve found your purpose. The story hasn’t ended, you still have a lot of good work to do helping others; I wish you all the best. You are truly an inspiration.

  12. I will remain on this path and continue to create opportunities for those who don’t have it! Thank you for your kind words!

  13. Kajiba, you are right and I am actively looking for ways to honour (D’C”) in a large way. I appreciate your thoughts and the memory does not haunt me. It fuels my work in some sense I feel (D’C) is with me in spirit guiding this journey.

    All the best…

  14. Very well written and awesome story. I’ll make my little cousins read it. Hopefully it’ll teach them something.

  15. Wow… What an amazing story and journey. Keep pushing and doing great work for the community. Every negative situation is a chance for redemption.

  16. Brave of you to expose such a past and experiences, this young generation we’re facing in the GTA is struggling to see how their lives really matter.. And you can help them see the light with this experience of yours. An amazing read, honestly didn’t expect to find it so interesting, you’re quite the blessing I hope those that read this or hear of your experiences can learn from them too, keep pushing Segun! All the best.

  17. Not sure if you are as good of a speaker as you are a writer, but you should go around and talk to teens at high schools in TDSB. Accountability is one of the hardest things to teach young children today, yet you are a very interesting character that seems to exemplify it in your writing. I’d bring you into my classroom, but my students are a bit to young for the dialogue. Good luck with you future, keep working hard!!!!!!!!!

  18. Working in a jail as a C/O there’s no greater pleasure for me, in a ‘world’ of such negativity, as having a young Inmate, who asked me for a favour; to change up his class because he and his teacher didn’t mesh well. He asked if I could speak to the head of the education dept. in the jail to see if I could get his class changed. I asked him if I did this, what he would do for me. He said I will get my grade 12 with honours. I was walking through A&D one day and this young kid was waiting in a holding cell to be released and bused back home. I hear “MISS! MISS! I am glad I got to see you. I wanted to thank you for switching that class for me. I got my grade 12 with a 94% grade average. You WON’T be seeing me back here every again!” Thirteen years later, I don’t remember the young man’s name, but I am hoping, as you, Segun, he has found his way in the world and is just as successful in life as you have become. Congratulations!!

  19. I am happy you have moved on to helping others avoid the mistakes you feel you made. This was an interesting story as I live in the neighborhood you lived in and this type of story keeps me wanting to show my children as much love, support and attention that I can in some hope that they follow the “right ” path. Please continue the good work you do and perhaps reach out to those in the Jane/ finch community and show them there is a way out.

    With regards to Mr. Celestino, it is a shame that a life was lost. But it could have just as easily been you instead of him. His path was also flawed but at least we didn’t lose both of you.

  20. We met once, Segun. You helped my daughter move. Before you came to my home, I knew a bit about your back story from my daughter, who clearly thought very highly of you. I was so excited to meet you and about the ventures I’d heard you were about to undertake and knew you were destined for great things. Now here I am reading your story in my favorite publication. No one gave their life for you–glad you understand that. Through great tragedy, you have been given the opportunity and unquenchable desire to change the world…and you are with humility, gratitude and respect. You are a class act, my love. I am so proud of you. God bless you.

  21. I call BS. All the commenters here are lauding the author for the great things he’s done. What about those who stuck with the minimum wage job, played it straight and struggled all their lives? Are they getting 5 figure grants to “tell their story?” Yeah okay, the time was served, but somehow it seems the “queue has been jumped” (as the Brits would say.) It’s a sad statement about our society when killing humans and going to prison is more glamourous, entertaining and rewarding than a life of hard, and possibly tenuous, work. Would a story about a Coffee Time worker or non-unionized sanitation engineer elicit such positive comments? I could only hope.

  22. Segun,

    Your story is amazing, and yet, unfortunately, not very uncommon. I’m a teacher in the TDSB and would love to have you share your story with my boys to men group. I’m in the process of printing out this article to share with them next session. If you do guest spots, please don’t hesitate to hit me up.
    Blessings King and thank you for sharing.

    JW

  23. thanks for sharing your story, as someone with a sibling who traveled a similar path I can relate in many ways. Glad to see your succeeding now, as is my sibling btw!

  24. I hope so also Brenda. The way you make him sounds it reminds me of me! I remember getting my education in jail on my own terms was a catalyst for me.

    Thank you for sharing and your kind words!

  25. I read your story in hopes to educate myself on how to facilitate my 14yr old son on how not to continue to go down the dark path that he is. I’m hoping that what I have learnt from your experience I can share with my son before it’s too late. Gang life is not as glorious as today’s kids are perceiving it to be. Glad you made it through to the other side alive to tell. Thank you for sharing.

  26. I am not sure if this story makes me happy or sad — I am also not sure that my judgement on this story and it’s merits really matter. What I am sure about is that people need to read about someone changing their circumstances, rising above past decisions or indiscretions, and working towards something better for themselves and those around them.

    I was more than slightly taken back by the poster who talked about the un-glorified life of a non-unionized coffee shop worker, and their plight. Their fate is only sealed by the confines of their ambition, self-motivation and will to move past their current circumstance. If you are not working on yourself daily, you are helping someone else achieve their dreams — when you do both, you are contributing and creating a life you want. You cannot have one without the other, though you can leave yourself in a constant cycle of not moving forward. Working on you, and your specific set of challenges and setbacks will set a course towards something better and more meaningful. Being angry that someone has or is taking action in their own life is not a cause for creating a moral high-ground. Though, I do believe that there is an over glorification with the ideas of danger, violence, and bad behaviour; those ideas are sellable, unfortunately (… and not leaving our society any time soon. The author is not responsible for making them that way, but does have to take responsibility for perpetuating the stereotype). What, I do hope is that this narrative becomes less of a story that can be glorified by things like “cool teenage behaviour”, “I did this to be popular”, “…we left some guy in his boxer shorts” and more about the work being done to help those who are more susceptible to living this lifestyle. That stuff may help you relate to the youth, but it’s appalling for an adult to read.

    With that said, it is also difficult to define who or what is deserving. From my vantage point, everyone deserves something, and people who take action (regardless of circumstance) are usually the ones who benefit most. There is a distinction between simply working long hours, and working towards a goal that make your working hours different. Both require an overall commitment, and both have frustrations and injustices — but.. only one has the opportunity for a better future. When making that change, your working hours aren’t any less, but the type of work you will differ. We each are given the same 24 hours. Everyone is equal on that front, what you do with those hours, what you focus on, and how you execute… that is up to you. Good luck, Segun. I wish you well.

  27. Amazing story brother, honestly learned alot by reading this it’s crazy how life changes so much I will definitely remember this success story as it will help me and motivate me to achieve my goals in life as well, I needed this. Thank you so much

  28. It’s a story about redemption and hope, not a story about the glamorization of prison and a life of crime…maybe read the story before making ignorant comments

  29. Segun, it’s may.

    your story is amazing. We all make mistakes. As long as we learn from them and better ourselves, that’s what counts. I am very proud of you. Wish you all the best in your journey and may God continue to bless you. Keep up the good work ! Xo – May

  30. great story man, kudos to you for taking initiative. i know hard it is to be achieve things when the system is out to make failures out of us, but we gotta take it in stride. anyways good for you man, keep up the positivity!

  31. Please share with him the life is not real and worthless. I just lost my friend the other day. Life is to precious to be a stat!

    Thank you and good luck!!

  32. Everyone has the choice to change their circumstances. That’s what this story is about. If you’re stuck in a job you hate, do something about it. Go back to school or study a trade to expand your experience. Maybe a story about a minimum wage worker that was unhappy and changed their life would get a great response. That’s a totally different topic. This story has a positive message. It seems like you might have missed that.

  33. Yes if a Coffee Time worker or non-unionized sanitation engineer decided after 20 years of the same lifestyle living paycheck to paycheck wanted to make a change in there life by starting a business and asked the government for a grant with a good business proposal I’m sure it would be approved! No ones life is easy.
    Segun lost his mother at the age of 8. Not everyone knows how to handle death.. Especially your mothers at that!
    Maybe if Segun had received the same support he eventually gave back to his community and youth after his trails and tribulations he wouldn’t be in that position.. That’s the silver lining this article is presenting throughout his adolescent becoming a man.

    And please do tell me once you figure out how to spell (glamourous) glamorous***..
    What is glamorous entertaining and rewarding living a hard life and possible tenuous work..
    What in that is glamourous … I mean glamorous??? You said it yourself Tenuous… meaning;

    adjective

    1.thin or slender in form, as a thread.

    2.lacking a sound basis, as reasoning; unsubstantiated; weak:

    a tenuous argument.

    3.thin in consistency; rare or rarefied.

    4.of slight importance or significance; unsubstantial:

    He holds a rather tenuous position in history.

    5.lacking in clarity; vague:

    He gave a rather tenuous account of his past life.

    Now to clarify myself.. I don’t agree with his wrongful actions, I’m not saying this is a life for anyone to live. But if a Tenuous Lifestyle is what you believe in living then its better Segun had shot and killed you rather than Danilo because he to had a aspiring life to live he was just caught up in a bad situation. And you.. well clearly your already dead.. your barely living waiting retirement .. just go buy your plot/grave from now!!!

  34. Wow, what an incredible story based on sorrow, misguidance, sadness and change. Thank you for sharing and allowing us to see the raw emotion in your journey. I am sad for your past but thankful you have turned your life around for the positive. Things may be hard and a struggle at times now but no greater than the internal struggle you faced for those four days after the stabbing. Keep on sharing and helping shape and change the lives of kids and keep leaning on your family for support. Thank you for sharing.

  35. Maybe all those minimum wage people who are unhappy in their situations should get off their butts and go hustle: starting businesses that service humanity, knocking on doors, navigating the granting system, networking instead of jealously, bitterly whining about it like you are.

  36. Military School. Missionary/volunteer trips to impoverished countries. Or, if you’re not rich, lots of love, attention, discipline, coaching and counselling. I’m sure there are a lot of resources for free counselling. Moving to a nice suburb helps too (yes I know it didn’t help in the writer’s case, but that’s because his father lost control of his family/wasn’t present). Basically it’s going to be a long hard road to get him past this, but it can happen. Just put in the time and effort.

  37. I appreciate your comment. I hope your not too appalled by my childhood behaviour. I will contiune to take responsibility and grow as a person.

    Thank you for your wishing me good luck!

  38. I will keep working hard and finding ways to share my story with the youth going through similar struggles.

  39. Thank you so much. I would be nothing without my family. I will keep sharing in hopes to impact others!

  40. You said you wish that Celestino didn’t have to lose his life but yet you also mentioned People always ask me if I’d change what happened, and I say no; you can’t change the past, but you can create your future. Danilo Celestino’s is part of your past don’t you wanna change that part? I can see that you are a changed man but I don’t see remorse in the story.

  41. I see remorse in the way Segun has made the most of the opportunities he’s been provided. He’s worked hard and while he can never bring that murdered man back, his story and his example might be a deterrant to some and an model example to others. It might convince them not to get involved in gangs. It might inspire them to reach their potential. Yes, one man’s life was loss and that is a tragedy because that person had potential as well. Segun’s story is inspiring thousands though and that counts for something. That is better than remorse, to me.

  42. It takes money to move to “a nice suburb” and surely if the writer could do it, s/he would. Also, life is not perfection in the suburbs. I grew up in the suburbs and am raising my son here now. There are struggles here as well.

  43. In what part did you see that? Im not here to argue im only speaking the truth. I am happy to see he improved himself but not once he mentioned that he was sorry.

  44. I am sorry you feel that way. The reason why I can’t change the past is because the exchange is my life. I was not ready to die in that room which I almost did, it was a matter of centimeters from death to be exact. I would love to change the past and bring my mother back if I had the chance but I can’t and I don’t want to. I don’t think about what I can’t change so I say no I would not change the past. What I will do is create a future one that can help others, help me find peace and inspire the rest of the world to do the same.

  45. Sounds like the school board needs to change the way it programs for kids. One of the key messages I took from Segun’s story is that kids need a real education to help them turn their lives around. Not glorified babysitting in the schools they end up in. Academics is key. Have realistic, high expectations for them. Give them a sense of self-respect and purpose by providing them with the knowledge, tools and connections they need. They can become caring, responsible adults. Segun’s proven it can be done.

  46. Segun, your story captivated me from beginning to end however, that last line – “I’m defined by something good” – is what really stuck in my mind. I teach at a high school in the Jane and Finch corridor and I can honestly say, “being defined by something good” is sometimes the hardest thing for my students to find. So much is working against them, and to find the good in all the negative, is not an easy task. I’m glad you were able to find the good and I’m glad you are able to tell your story. If you see this comment, I’d like to know the best way to contact you to set up a possible school based initiative/presentation (using social media to my advantage here). All the best!

  47. Why be such a hater? What are you “calling BS” about? You don’t even have the right context. Are you “calling BS” on his story? He’s not talking about 5-figure grants to tell his story. He’s getting grants to implement positive community programs and services. Did you even read the story and grasp its true meaning? He drew a beautiful path for you about the circumstances that led to his devolving into such a heinous act – even if it was in retaliation for someone initiating the violence against him. Of course, we can’t condone murder – but the true value of the story is redemption and repenting. Lighten up, dude. Show some empathy.

  48. I knew you personally… you were a “snake” “stick up/set up” kid…. even in the streets you didn’t really follow the rules… but honestly all that is the past and it is insane/amazing to see a man who acted with such disregard for his own life and others change his life for the better… I hope it is genuine (which it sounds like it is).. Keep empowering the youth and doing what you do.. More people need to step up and mentor the youth for the better

    One Love

  49. I am not sure how much you knew me to say I was a “snake”. Although there could be a lot of reasons why you feel this way so I respect your opinion. I do appreciate your comment and will continue to empower others. I hope we can connect and talk reach out.

    Thank for your realness. Always Love

  50. You see people, African immigrants adjust and integrate into Western civilization, they just have to go through several years of crime, kill a White man and draw heavily from social assistance. It’s a tiny price to pay for diversity, and his delightful genetics being propagated in Canada.

    Now he gets to be a media darling telling his profitable black victimization story. Isn’t multiculturalism great for everyone besides White people? But who cares about them, Whites are evil, he even learned about slavery in Ghana, so he knows for sure.

    King Gezo said in the 1840’s he would do anything the British wanted him to do apart from giving up slave trade:

    “The slave trade is the ruling principle of my people. It is the source and the glory of their wealth…the mother lulls the child to sleep with notes of triumph over an enemy reduced to slavery…”

    Of course Whites are never thanked for actually stopping slavery. Worldwide. For moral reasons alone, going to war (with Islam, the largest slavery in all of history) and sacrificing their own lives to do it. Also, Islamic slavery is never mentioned, or that you could still buy Whites slaves as late as 1908 under the Ottomans.

    No, the evil White man must pay, do penance, and absorb delightful African immigrants to the point of negation. Only through genetic nullification can the White man atone for the original sin of being White.

  51. Not really, he should be grovelling. How much did he get int he way of grant money and social assistance? Now he’s sainted by the media for living the kind of life we ALL do without having to kill a White man first.

  52. Why is this guy being lionized for NOT killing people? I do that every day – believe me when I say that acting like a normal, well adjusted human being is nothing to write articles about. This is absolutely disgusting.

  53. Why do we owe a “reformed” killer who isnt even a part of our community anything? Anything at all? The fact of the matter is, you’re only here for the religious ecstasy of being Holier Than Thou to all us plebes who are 1) white, 2) well behaved, 3) gainfully employed who 4) do not get articles profiling our lives.

  54. its amazing how black people can (sometimes) stop committing violent felonies if you throw money at them

  55. He might require a continual stream of money to continue not to kill. Worth every penny! I suggest at least a million Nigerian immigrants a year, with their high fecundity rate, we’ll never run out of Nigerian imports and pretty soon, Toronto can look just like Lagos. Image the vibrancy, the cultural enrichment, the petty tribal wars, and the enticing, colourful headdresses.

  56. “Mistakes”? Is that how you refer to dead men: “mistakes”?

    Why do I have to share a cit with people who place so little value on human life?

    I’ve yet to hear an argument as to WHY you’re all here? You contribute NOTHING to the life of my city. Nothing. You’re lionized for stopping yourself from killing people. This is supposed to be an achievement?

    Someone explain to me, without using restaurants as an example (I can make my own curry and kebabs, thanks), why I or my people who BUILT Toronto benefit from having you here, at all.

  57. This is Western civilization now. White taxpayers funding their own displacement through mass immigration while bribing them not to create crime and supporting their reckless breeding habits.

  58. I really don’t care. It’s white peoples fault for destroying any opportunity for black achievement. You pay with your life. More whites will have to die until you give us back what you took from us.

    We used to be kings. Now all we get is bling? Are you fucking serious with dat shit?

    Pay up.

  59. It’s not the fault of blacks. Whites made them do it. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a white cop HOLDING A GUN TO THE BLACK MAN’S HEAD forcing him to kill a white person.

    I have seen cops that were in the KKK force young black children who were getting their lives together TO SMOKE CRACK AT GUNPOINT. Then they made them slaves. It’s not surprising some black people get pissed off by that.

  60. I can’t speak for the TTC87 person above, but as far as I’m concerned, you’re a snake in that you:
    1) kill
    2) take my tax money to enrich yourself
    3) you do 2) because it makes the StuffWhitePeopleLike posters/readers around here feel good about themselves and how they’re so much better than the people “in the sticks.”

  61. I am glad this young man has been able to turn his life around. When Jews first came to this country, not all of us wound up doing honest work in the financial sector and Hollywood. Some of us turned to organized crime. It’s not easy being banned from every country club in the nation, but I sincerely believe that blacks, Jews and people of color in general will overcome these white animals and build a nation where ALL people are safe.

    We need to make these privileged jerks pay and admit to their privilege. Like Bernie says, America still has not apologized for slavery.

  62. Ok so can every racist in this thread please show me facts and statistics to prove your accusations against black criminality. I would love to see if any such facts exist.

  63. I wish I had the black privilege to get paid for murder. Alas, I’m just a wage-slaving, taxpaying white guy.

  64. What an amazingly positive story and proof that all we need to do is pay Africans 6 figures not to be murderers. Think of how lucky we are that they are willing to settle of so little considering how badly we treat them for no reason at all. Its sort of a bummer someone had to die and all but I know the mans murder was worth it to give Segun here a cushy life and where he can bask in his newfound celebrity status amongst wealthy upper middle class liberals. Me and my SJW friends will spend many hours fawning over this success story and we will all feel really smart and morally superior to White proles who wishe they had a country where being murdered by Africans wasn’t something that had to be worried about.

  65. Well if this black man is a moral exemplar among his people, he should be sent among them to elevate them, rather than lecture the white race, which doesn’t require their role models to learn that murder is bad after committing murder.

  66. Paying blacks not to murder is not a long term solution as long as we neglect to pay them for not having a string of illegitimate, welfare dependent children. The costs of not murdering will simply rise exponentially.

  67. “I skipped school one day toward the end of Grade 9 to play dice with three Galloway Boys in one of their basements. Within an hour, I’d lost $1,700.”

    That sums up the author of this article. Growing up, I knew absolutely no White kid that had such low impulse control and short time horizons (and I knew kids that had lost a parent too). We keep importing people from Third World cultures with the genetics stacked against them, and then are surprised they turn to crime.

  68. I would have shipped this guy’s worthless dindu ass back to The Congo the first moment he cost taxpayers a nickel. Why can’t White people have their own ‘safe spaces’ away from self entitled, low impulse assholes like this? Can anyone seriously offer any benefits of multiculturalism? When out nations were White, there were safe, prosperous, had no social problems and lead the world in every metric. Now all we do is blather endlessly about racism and equality. We used to go into space, now we pay blacks not to kill people.

    I think we need a White country.

  69. Well, crime is not categorized by race in Canada, because they’d have to do a whole lot of double talk to hide the discrepancies.

  70. The editors at Toronto Life must have had orgasms reading this life account. They don’t know anyone like this in their tony North Toronto neighbourhoods and at their kids’ private schools, so it must have been just so heart-warming to have a huggable thug tell his life story of taxpayer-assisted redemption.

    I love having the mainstream media play us all for fools.

  71. Each year, in the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), the Bureau of Justice Statistics asks a nationally representative sample of up to 75,000 Americans what crimes they were victims of, and who the perpetrator was.

    From 2004–2008, black Americans, who made up <13% of the population, committed about 30% of aggravated assaults, 60% of robberies (muggings), and 35% of rapes & sexual assaults.

    Hence, blacks are about 3.6 times as likely as whites to commit aggravated assault, 13 times as likely to commit robbery, 4.6 times as likely to commit rape & sexual assault, and overall about 4.0 times as likely to attempt violence and 5.7 times as likely to succeed.

    These multiples are actually too low because the NCVS counts nearly all Hispanics as “white,” which artificially increases “white” crime rates.

    In the Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR), the FBI keeps track of what crimes are reported to the police, and who gets arrested for them. From 2004–2008, black Americans accounted for 34% of aggravated assault arrests (vs. about 30% of aggravated assaults), 56% of robbery arrests (vs. 60% of robberies), and 33% of rape arrests (vs. 35% of rapes).

    Overall: 39% of arrests vs. 42% of crimes. Compare them: it all adds up.

    For each type of violent crime, whether you ask victims, read police reports, or check arrest records, you find a similar percentage of blacks. This shows that the police are doing their jobs: arresting criminals, not picking on minorities. Blacks are arrested more often than whites because they commit crime more often . This is true of violent crime, white-collar crime (like fraud and bribery), drug crime, drunk driving, etc.

    The NCVS shows that black criminals target whites . In 2008, for example, blacks committed 83% of single-offender violent interracial (B/W) crimes. Most victims of black violent crime are WHITE.

    Black criminals chose white victims 54% of the time. White criminals chose black victims <5% of the time. Blacks were 32 times as likely to attack whites as whites were to attack blacks; for robbery, 67 times. There were about 19,000 black-on-white rapes in 2008; that’s about 53 every day . The NCVS found ZERO CASES of white-on-black rape. For multiple-offender crimes, the NCVS found ZERO CASES of white-on-black crime of any kind. It did, however, find 142,000 black-on-white crimes, including 89,000 gang assaults, 49,000 gang robberies, and 4,000 gang rapes (about 10 a day).

    “That’s Because Whites Are Richer”

    Good try, but only 21% of black-on-white violent crimes were robberies. The rest were assaults and rapes — presumably with no economic motive.

    “Black Crime Is Caused by Poverty”

    We already know this is wrong, because the black poverty rate is only about 2.7 times the white rate. As we’ve seen, black crime rates are way higher . (By the way, the typical person living in “poverty” in the US has a car, air conditioning, two TVs, more living space than the average European, more than enough food, and access to necessary medical care.) Anyway, race differences in crime rates persist after controlling for socioeconomic status (Lauritsen & Sampson, ‘Minorities, Crime, and Criminal Justice,’ 2000). That’s why the single best indicator of violent crime levels in an area is the percentage of the population that is black and Hispanic, with a startling 81% correlation ( The Color of Crime , 2005).

    The next best indicators are lack of education (with only a 37% correlation), poverty (a 36% correlation), and unemployment (a 35% correlation).

    Control for all three, and the race/crime correlation only drops to 78%.

    In the simplest terms: if blacks had the same jobs, incomes, and educations as whites, the link between race and crime would be almost exactly as strong as it is now.

    It is easy to blame “society” for black crime, but it doesn’t fit the facts.

    Think about it: how can poverty cause rape? What about unemployment causing arson? And why are we concocting implausible excuses for violent criminals, anyway? Who or what are we protecting?

    “Almost All Serial Killers Are White”

    Contrary to that popular myth, Justin Cottrell ( Rise of the Black Serial Killer, 2012) found that blacks have never made up less than 27% of American serial killers in any given decade, increasing over time to a startling 88% from 2000–2010. So blacks commit these crimes at a much higher rate than whites, too.

    What Do These Findings Explain?

    As of 2010, according to FBI data, the five most dangerous cities were

    Flint, MI (57% black)
    Detroit, MI (83% black)
    St. Louis, MO (49% black)
    New Haven, CT (35% black; 27% Hispanic)
    and Memphis, TN (63% black)

    Interesting… Here are the five safest cities:
    Irvine, CA (2% black)
    Temecula, CA (4% black)
    Cary, NC (8% black)
    Murrietta, CA (5% black)
    and Gilbert, AZ (3% black)

    Notice anything? (Noticing things is “racist.”)

    This is, of course, exactly what you would expect from the NCVS, the UCR, etc.

    It’s one more piece of supporting evidence for the one theory that fits all the data: black people are more criminal than white people. “Politically incorrect,” but factually accurate

  72. We need “Mo money for ‘dem programs”. These has been going on for decades to the tune of trillions.

  73. As a Trans* person who has been victimized all my life for my sexual orientation, I have often found that black men were the least accepting and most violent toward me. I have rarely had a problem walking through white areas, but I dare not go into black areas. Black violent crime is a real problem in Toronto, but it’s never addressed for politically correct reasons.

  74. How is he marginalized by getting wads of cash from the government, a slap on the wrist for murder, a free media profile, endless charity from well meaning rubes, and citizenship to a civilization that his people had no part in creating?

  75. As a cis-male who has been victimized in recent years for my hetero-normativity, I too find I rarely have a problem walking through white areas, and I too dare not go into black areas.

    And here I was thinking I’d have nothing in common with queers like you! Canada is a such a wonderful country.

  76. Are you implying that the editors of Toronto Life are liberal retards who value other cultures more than their own and look down on Whites who would have preferred Canada stay like it was in 1967?

  77. I wish every African could be blessed by making and redeeming himself from this same mistake. We’d kill two birds with one stone- a more tolerant society and no more European descended oppressors!

  78. Whether you’re a troll or legit this comment is golden. This is the whole western world summed up to a tee, “I have rarely had a problem walking through white areas, but I dare not go into black areas. Black violent crime is a real problem in Toronto, but it’s never addressed for politically correct reasons.”.People will shake their heads at you for saying this, then look away if not snap at you for being bigoted for noticing the truth.White people are the most gullible, naive and in denial people in the world.

  79. Hi. Are you referring to the school-based alternative programs in the TDSB? And could you confirm, are you supportive or critical of them? Or are you referring to the types of programs that Segun has been part of?

  80. That’s right – it would be too much to ask for a simple expression of remorse. The kid has gotta “move on” with his life.

  81. Geez, have you ever heard of missing the forest for the trees? “One of the key messages I took from Segun’s story is that kids need a real education to help them turn their lives around.” Yeah, we need more educational resources for our Third World thugs.

    “Today, class, we will be learning about hard work and self-discipline. Are you listening, class? Put away those Ipods. Jamal, had over the switchblade.”

  82. Right, my tone. Well, I take it very personally, watching my country become a Third World hellhole, while we debate which educational policies will best serve our inner-city youth.

  83. I take it personally too, and that’s why I do the work I do supporting families with children with disabilities and no level of govt is paying me and I like it that way. Educational policies don’t need to be debated to waste more time but they are there, along with tons more, to ensure that the education system works for everyone and everyone is held accountable, including the students you seem to be referring to. Frustrating thing is, and what makes me angry, is the waste in the system.

  84. There’s no tab to pick up. There’s already funding. Question is what is it being spent on. Follow the money.

  85. What about his victims you degenerate? So if he stops getting paid is he going to murder someone again?

  86. Just be a good, supportive influence on him. That’s FREE!!! Also, keep an eye on him and what he’s doing at all times. Force him to be accountable for his time. There are so many free resources to help youth keep on the right track and rightly so, it’s in society’s best interest. Please use those resources. I’m speaking as someone who’s had a very wayward sibling who is now functional and on the right path.

  87. LOL this is so lame, I can’t even bother. That you took so much time write that doesn’t offend me, doesn’t make me hate you, it just makes me feel sorry for you. Reconsider what you contribute to society.

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