Thousands march to urge accountability, police reform in Peel

BY CLOVER STERLING AND ALEX GREGORY

No justice, no peace. Thousands gathered in Mississauga’s Celebration Square on Sunday to march in a peaceful protest, pushing a call to action that Peel Police should start wearing body cams to stop inequality and racism. It was a day of unified hearts and minds with one mission: to gather people of all ages and cultures, coming out to show their support; everyone wearing masks and observing social distancing as much as they could.

They marched around the city making their voices heard that everyone should stand up for what is wrong and also what is right. Marching around Mississauga’s City Centre, residents chanted calls to action in unison to acknowledge recent In a speech to the large crowd gathered, the President of Sheridan College’s Black Students Association, Stephanie Garricks, spoke about the need for community action.

“Racism doesn’t stop at police brutality,” Garrick told the crowd of thousands. “While we appreciate the effort, it takes more than posting on social media to make a difference… you have control of your immediate surroundings.” “The next time your parents, friends and coworkers make a racist joke, you shut them down.

When you hear someone use racial slurs, you shut them down,” Garricks continued. victims of police action, including 29 year-old Regis Korchinski Paquet, 29 who fell to her death recently while in the presence of Toronto police, and 46 year-old Minneapolis resident George Floyd, whose death in custody on May 25 resulted in a firestorm of protests and action throughout 21 cities in the U.S. Signs reading “Black Lives Matter,” “No Justice, No Peace,” “I Can’t Breathe” and “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” were on full display as the marchers walked, gathering followers as they protested. Upon arriving at the Marilyn Manroe buildings at Hurontario and Burnhamthorpe, the protesters stood in solidarity for eight minutes and 46 seconds to honour Floyd’s memory.

“When your organization refuses to include black people in their executive team, you speak up. When a black person is refused a promotion when they are clearly qualified, you say something. When you are told that you cannot date a black person, you stand up for your partner,” Garricks added. Calls for demonstrable action and police reform have swept through the country, with major organizations urging lawmakers and politicians to do more to protect Black residents.

“Police maltreatment and brutality and systemic racism must come to an end,” Paulette Senior, the president and CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation, told Peel Weekly News earlier this week. “We feel outrage, anger, and deep frustration. There have been numerous studies, investigations, and inquiries about what needs to happen with too many unfulfilled recommendations.

This is not enough. It has long been clear that we need communityled police accountability and oversight, performance measures based on how the most marginalized community members are served and protected, and financial consequences for poor institutional performance, in addition to criminal consequences for institutional perpetrators.

Instead of committing billions of dollars to police and prisons, we must prioritize proactive community-based crime intervention and prevention efforts that are proven to work.” During her speech on Sunday, Garricks added that it is important for participants to educate themselves, their friends and their children as to make a difference in their community. “We are not asking you to not see colour, because all that does is negate the struggles that black people have faced because of the colour of our skin… we are Black and we are proud, but we are also in danger right now and have been for centuries.

We recognise that all lives matter, and that is why historically we have stood by all other oppressed groups, including the LGBTQ+ community. We need you now more than ever to make permanent change.” Ulysses Mangual, a resident of Mississauga, also expresses his concern for the current state of the world during Sunday’s march. He emphasized that he too has faced racism living in the United States, and moved to Mississauga for a safe change of the “unhealthy fear of police.”

However, Mangual said, he realized racial inequality also existed in Canada. To support his point, he raised the issue of a timeline of events using statistics, which shows systemic racism exists all over Canada – including Mississauga. The problem is right on our doorstep, said Mangual. “We don’t want Mississauga to become another Minneapolis. We don’t want Mississauga to become another Ferguson.

We don’t want the issue of police brutality, that turns our city on its head and has us rioting. We don’t want these problems,” Mangual said, reading from an open letter he sent to Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie’s office. “What we want is accountability, (and) what we need is a civilian and community oversight of our police departments.” The march came as Peel Police prepares a report, set to be delivered on June 26, which will examine the implementation of bodyworn cameras for officers. The Board “welcome(s) opportunities to strengthen police accountability while ensuring greater community safety and well-being,” said Peel Police Services Board Chair Ron Chatha. Mangual also urged Crombie to put more investments into “our community programs, our youth programs, our mental health programs, so that our at-risk youth and adults can find the help they need, and so we are not sending police officers to do what mental health professionals are doing.”

Agatha Cananon, a resident of Mississauga, told Peel Weekly News, said Participants march outside Mississauga City Hall Sunday afternoon during a planned march. (Submitted) the city is, “So diverse, (and) it’s so important for everybody to be aware of what’s happening. I think that because the volume in the city is so high marching around, it is so important that people see it, so they cannot be ignorant to what’s happening.” Leon, a protester from Brampton, said, “We all have friends of different races, and if you have a minority friend, it should impact you too. I’m hoping that this brings more awareness and more transparency within Peel Police.”

About the author

Asia Metro Editor

Surjit Singh Flora
editor@asiametro.ca

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