On May 27th, 2020, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29 year old Afro-Indigenous woman died during an interaction with six Toronto Police Services (TPS) officers. On August 26th, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) released a report claiming that there were no reasonable grounds to believe that any of the officers committed a criminal offence in connection with the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet. This is not an isolated incident. For too long, police officers’ violent actions have been left unchecked by so-called civilian investigations and review boards. As directed by our membership, the Federation is united in solidarity with Black, Indigenous and Racialized students calling for justice, and the call to defund the police and remove cops from our campuses.
Police violence disproportionately affects Black, Indigenous and Racialized people. This systemic mistreatment spans from the criminal justice system to the education system. There is an urgent need for racial justice across all of our institutions. In cases of police brutality, there is a common practice of suspending violent and racist officers with pay, which contributes to a further cycle of protecting and perpetuating racism. At the same time, the SIU – made up of primarily past and present police officers – has a history of protecting officers, rather than holding them accountable. The 2019 SIU annual report identified that out of 363 closed cases, only 13 led to charges. From their inception, police forces have existed to police racialized bodies and protect property while criminalizing poverty. Rather than provide community support, policing exacerbates issues that are tied to a lack of investment in crucial social services.
The Federation joins the call to defund the police and redirect funds towards community-based social services and ensure that wellness checks are met with care by mental health crisis workers. Together, we must take action to end the disproportionate violence faced by Black, Indigenous and Racialized people at the hands of Toronto Police Services and all forms of police.