Toronto rally calls for reforms to police, changes to Pride

Calls for police reform and changes to the way Pride celebrations are carried out echoed across Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square on Sunday as hundreds attended a rally and teach-in.

The event, organized by the group No Pride in Policing Coalition (NPPC), demanded the defunding and abolishment of police services across the country.

“We are supporting the Black Lives Matter’s proposal of cutting of the funding the police by 50 per cent,” said Beverly Bain, a spokesperson for the group.

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Bain said NPPC wants to see those funds redistributed to various communities for safety initiatives as those communities see fit.

Current proposals for police reform by Toronto City Council don’t go far enough, she said.

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“The 10 per cent … that (some city councillors are) advocating to be cut will mean nothing in terms of the larger scheme of things,” she said.

Gary Kinsman, also with the group, added: “The 10 per cent cut is actually no cut at all to the police budget. It basically brings the police budget to where it was a few years ago.”

NPPC cites Regis Korchinski-Paquet, the Toronto woman who fell to her death in May during an interaction with police, as part of the reason for its action. It also mentions Ejaz Choudry, who was shot and killed by Peel Regional Police during a wellness check on June 20.

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The group also insists on less “corporatized” Pride celebrations, with a return to its protest roots.

Payton Daye-Fraser, who attended the rally, said she was there to support Black lives and the LGBTQ community.

“Canada has historically oppressed certain groups of people and acknowledging that is the first step toward making that right,” she said.

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Another attendee who only provided his name as “D.C.” said he believes there is systemic racism in the police. He said he hopes the rally helps raise awareness of what he sees as the common interests and goals among marginalized communities.

“In the end, this discrimination — whether it’s homophobia, sexism, racism, ableism, transphobia — its root is as human begins we treat each other different out of fear, out of prejudice,” he said.

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