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toronto police protest

Protesters swarm Toronto Police Headquarters to call for defunding

Hundreds of people are gathered outside Toronto Police headquarters this afternoon to demand that the force be defunded as TPS Board members conduct their fourth and final virtual town hall.

Created by the board as "an opportunity to hear directly from the public on matters concerning police accountability, reform, and community safety priorities," the virtual town hall has been streaming since 9 a.m. Thursday morning.

Around noon, however, members of the public could also be heard outside the police headquarters building on College Street.

"No justice, no peace, abolish the police!" chanted protesters carrying megaphones and colourful signs.

Representatives from a whole host of advocacy organizations were lined up to speak to the crowd, including Che and Alex from Not Another Black Life, Ravyn Wngz from Black Lives Matter-Toronto and Suzanne Shoush of Doctors for Defunding Police.

While peaceful, protesters are particularly passionate in light of Toronto city council's recent vote not to cut the Toronto Police Services budget for next year, despite mounting demand to do so.

They're also dissatisfied with the city's proposed solutions (such as the use of body cameras) to the problem of police violence against people of colour and people with mental health conditions.

"Our politicians are not listening. The era of violent policing in response to poverty, mental health, and lack of community investment must end," reads a description for the event, hosted by the No Pride in Policing Coalition (NPPC.)

"But Toronto City Council is clinging to its history of police violence, and voting to increase police budgets and surveillance, while other cities defund police and re-invest in communities."

"Even worse, the Toronto Police Services Board is holding consultations after city council has already voted to increase the budget," notes NPPC, referring to the virtual town hall series. "We will not be fooled, and we will never alter our demands to defund, disarm, de-militarize, and abolish the Toronto Police."

The group's demands remain as follows:

  • No to body cams and no to expanding the police budget
  • Defund the Toronto Police budget by 50 per cent and invest in meeting community needs
  • Demilitarize the police
  • Remove cops in schools
  • Reduce the scope of the police
  • Document Police Violence
  • Decriminalize poverty, drugs, HIV and sex work
  • Dismantle special constables and TTC fare inspectors
  • No police "$ transfers to criminalizing, psychiatrizing institutions"
  • End anti-trans violence and the two-gender binary
  • Create alternatives to policing
Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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