June 26, 2020 14 min to read

Violence; at the hands of the Canadian State

Category : Uncategorized

Civil unrest, massive protests, and the call for a significant defunding and abolishment of the police have erupted across the world in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by the biggest gang in America. A collective realization to dismantle a justice system built on systemic racism. 

George Floyd, standing on the shoulders of giants, represents years of systemic genocide against the Black population of America. Furthered by legislation that safeguards the State from actions of violence. Black, Brown and Indigenous people are often targeted and at the mercy of the State, where a regular traffic stop can become fatal. 

The use of force by law enforcement is often justified, while the working class are persecuted with over-aggressive use of force, and jailed for years. Individuals living in precarious situations are unable to fight a justice system built solely to protect the wealthy segment of the population. These over-aggressive tactics of intimidation are not solely limited to the American Police; Canada is an institution built on systemic racism.

Local Canadian Police, RCMP(Royal Candian Mounted Police), CBSA(Canadian Border Service Agency) and CSIS(Canadian Security Intelligence Service) are all institutions that carry a dark history. 

Ejaz Ahmed Choudry, a 62-year-old Pakistani Muslim, was shot and killed in his apartment after an ambulance was requested. June 2020.

Chantel Moore, a 26-year-old Indigenous Tla-o-qui-aht Woman, was shot and killed by the Edmundston, NB Police. They were called to do a wellness check. June 2020.

Rodney Levi, a 48-year-old Indigenous Metepenagiag First Nation man, was shot and killed by the RCMP who were responding to a mental health crisis. June 2020.

D’Andre Campbell, a 26-year-old Black male,  was shot and killed by Toronto Police when he called 911 requesting to go to the hospital. April 2020.

Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year-old Black woman, died when the Police were responding to a “domestic situation”. Police were responding to a health crisis. 

Civilian oversight of the Police was established in Canada to safeguard people against corrupt Police officials. The intention was to provide justice for people that have been historically discriminated against by the unbalanced justice system.

In Ontario, the SIU (Special Investigations Unit), was formed in 1990, after numerous fatal shootings of Black men since the 1970s. This resulted in the Black Action Defence Committee to push for the establishment of the SIU, the first civilian oversight body of the Police established in Canada. The SIU has since been involved in police cases across Ontario where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault. 

Previous prosecutors for the Crown have been the choice to oversee the SIU as the Executive Director. These individuals, for a majority of their career, have been working alongside the Police to prosecute many individuals. The oversight is entrusted to the director and its team of “experts”. (Crown Attorney named next director of SIU – The Canadian Press 2013)

A study, conducted by the CBC in 2017, described details of fatal shootings by the Police force in Canada. Indigenous communities (5% of the population) and Black communities (8% of the population) account for a majority of the fatal encounters documented. (Deadly Force – CBC, 2017)

The Ontario Human Rights Commission states a Black person living in Toronto is 20 times more likely to be shot. 

In 2017, 380 investigations were launched, resulting in only 18 charges. 

An investigation, in 2017, of the GTHA (Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area) Police, found that 59 Police officers were convicted of crimes. 54 of whom were still on the force, assuming active duty. Convicted offences included – Driving over 80, Impaired Driving, Sexual Assault, Attempted Murder, and Assault. (Convicted Cops: A closer look, Avery Haines & Roshni Murthy )

In 2018, the SIU investigated 416 cases, which resulted in only 15 charges being laid.(SIU Annual Report 2018)

The SIU’s findings, in many cases, justify the use of force exercised by the Police. In the SIU’s 2018 annual report, the following situations were used as examples of justified use of force that led to no charges, or action against the Police that were involved.  

Ex1. An officer shot a person six times, from 30 feet away. The officer involved stated that they were fearful for their life. 

Ex2. An officer, who was unable to switch from a loaded weapon to a taser in time, decided to shoot the victim three times point-blank in the chest. 

Ex.3 A civilian was arrested for a DUI, and later at the hospital during CT scans and X-rays, was found to have multiple fractures in the face and a dislocated shoulder. 

In all cases, the officers involved were found to be using a legitimate use of force. The SIU and the Ontario Police Services Act are in place only to safeguard the Police. The SIU is a limited body that brings about little justice.

Police forces across the nation are calling this recent wave of murders a failure of the system. Manitoba’s first Black Police chief stated that first responders are usually the Police, even if the request is a medical emergency. (A much better approach, Ryan Flanagan, June 2020)

His statement not only accepts the responsibility of a failed system, but it also assumes that Police are not trained to deal with a mental health crisis or trained to de-escalate. The argument does not absolve the Police of the murderous culture they engage with and commit daily.

Meanwhile, the RCMP and individual members of the Canadian State believe that systematic racism does not exist. The RCMP has repeatedly engaged in violent actions on this country’s indigenous population since its inception; stealing children from their homes to be placed in residential schools. The RCMP has been called numerous times on peaceful protesters. Videos surfacing now detail the violent attacks on Indigenous bodies. This culture has existed since settler-colonists thieved Indigenous land. 

This culture of power dominance and violence is also employed by many private security contractors across the city. They engage in physical abuse, sexual misconduct, and fraud to safeguard their jobs. Downtown hospital security guards have physically assaulted homeless people and thrown them out to the streets. Mall security guards from Scarborough Town Centre, Yorkdale, Square One and Eaton Centre, have all engaged in racially motivated group attacks.  (Mall Security Guard Kicking, Kneeing, suspect – Josh Dehas)

The Tamil community is no stranger to police and state brutality. Many living in Canada have faced Sri Lankan state brutality with the same types of tactics, oppressed by the colour of their skin, and heritage they hold.

The Satyagraha, 1961

What started with the continued colonization by Imperial forces, has turned into an illegal occupation of Indigenous Tamil land—the consequences leading to the largest open-air prisons in the world. The prevention of terror act, an act passed in 1979 by the Sri Lankan state criminalized a whole population. Many Tamil’s were brutally killed and assaulted at the hands of the Sri Lankan Police, State, and colonial powers.

Criminalization transcending geographical boundaries, policing and criminalizing the behaviour of a global Tamil community. (Deconstructing the Prevention of Terrorism Act – K.Saravanamuttu)

In August 2019, Nishan Durraiappah, a Tamil born in Sri Lanka, was promoted to Chief of Police for Peel Region. In a period of selective amnesia, while upholding the model minority myth, the Tamil community relayed messages of support for their newfound hero.

“Congratulations”

“Thanks for keeping the community safe”. 

“You can bring change”.

With appreciation came an apparent problem.

The so-called progressives and elites in the community upheld and praised institutions, like the Peel Regional Police.

The lending of legitimacy to flawed institutions is deadly. Elites continue to ignore the violence and employ a beggarly attitude with the Canadian State. Elites continue to strive to influence and reform racist institutions. 

D’Andre Campbell, a 26-year-old Black man, was shot in April 2020 by Peel Police. 

Ejaz Ahmed Choudry was shot five times in the back by the Peel Police in June 2020. These so-called progressives expressing solidarity with Black and Brown lives are the same individuals that congratulated Officer Durraiappah. 

Solidarity is to help organize a campaign directed at Chief Durraiappah to provide immediate answers for the deaths of D’Andre Campbell and Ejaz Ahmed Choudry. The same people that contributed notes of congratulations, the same people that have a direct connection with the chief, have the duty to assist during this time. The flakiness and opportunistic nature of the so-called elites in the Tamil community are detrimental and life-threatening. Offering only sympathy and empty words of support. 

Making them complicit in the violence perpetrated against regular working-class Canadians daily. 

D’Andre Campbell was killed on April 6, 2020. Gary Anandasangaree, a Tamil Member of Parliament for Scarborough Rouge River, 10 days later had the former Toronto Chief of Police Bill Blair on for an interview about COVID-19. 

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair in July 2013

While Blair was the Chief of Police, 24 people were murdered at the hands of the Toronto Police. Blair introduced TAVIS(Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy) – the carding program that facilitated the harassment and arrests of hundreds of people of colour. Blair was entrusted with creating the Cannabis Act to legalize marijuana and is set to make millions off an investment made into cannabis. Whilst jailing mostly men of colour for possession of cannabis when he was police chief. 

The Tamil community hasn’t forgotten the violence the Toronto Police, RCMP, CBSA, CSIS levelled against Tamil refugees in this city.

Growing up in Canada to Tamil refugee parents, fostered a constant battle of competing notions of identity. Tamil parents made a choice to flee across the world to provide their families a life without fear, a fear instilled by the government of Sri Lanka. Parents are forced to work immediately after arriving, leaving children to navigate their sense of self. Starting school with a Tamil name in a low-income neighbourhood had teachers mispronouncing names and bullies shaming them for their differences. Words that are pronounced differently instead of being teaching moments are ostracized. Tamils flocked to gangs for protection, refuge and family. 

In the 1990’s it was the Toronto Police Tamil Task Force that terrorized, hunted and stigmatized a generation of Tamil brothers and sisters. Locked up, deported, brutally beaten, while heads cracked like eggs on to the pavement. The task force was consciously unaware of the social situation that years of oppression at the hands of the Sri Lankan state were creating, as families were separated by oceans and blood. This was a crisis, unhinged with intergenerational trauma that required social services, not police intervention.

The Tamil community also felt the name “Tamil Task Force” itself was highlighting and contributing to stigma. 

The RCMP/CBSA targeted asylum seekers by detaining many without hearings for months. More than half deported, others have yet to be granted any status. Living in refugee limbo with the threat of deportation being constant. Tamil asylum seekers arrived by boat, the MV Sun Sea, after the end of the war in 2009. Krishna Kumar Kanagaratnam, a passenger on the MV Sun Sea, was killed by Bruce McArthur, had his refugee claim denied before his death in 2015.

The Conservative government at the time was aggressively attempting to ensure a few people were granted status, claiming they did not want an incident like the MV Sun Sea to occur again. Peter MacKay was the Minister of Defense at the time in 2009. 

There has been a recent push by Tamil Conservatives to elect Peter MacKay as party leader. Mckay supported Bill C-51 that gave the Police, RCMP, and CSIS wide-sweeping powers that infringed on private lives. MacKay tried to introduce bill C-13 that would have allowed Police far more jurisdiction to search through your electronics without a warrant. MacKay also wanted to introduce a tax on previous offenders of the justice system. 

Peter MacKay has proven time and time again, that he supports the corrupt institutions of the justice system. MacKay was the foreign affairs minister in 2006 when the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam were banned as a terrorist organization in Canada. At the time not once mentioning the atrocities of the Sri Lanka state. Police oversight would be non-existent, while Police and State would be given broad powers if MacKay had his way. Bill C-51 has not been repealed, Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government only took minor steps to remove parts out. 

Justin Trudeau has no intention of safeguarding Canada’s most defenceless population, by allowing the RCMP and it’s military to terrify, detain and harass Indigenous communities. Elites who work for these institutions have seldomly been held accountable to the people they represent. 

The Tamil community has an obligation and duty to protect our brothers and sisters from violent police brutality. Supporters of the Police will be quick to jump at the chance to organize community meetings with the Police. Time for reform is gone, it’s time for action. 

Interactions with Police in low-income neighbourhoods have rarely been positive as many seem to claim.

Walking home and being stopped because robberies were happening in the area, and the clothing and your wear and your physical appearance make you look suspicious. Detained, harassed and then let go.

Walking and getting harassed by TAVIS Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy and carded. Threatened with arrest if names were not provided.

Witnessing the Police’s use of excessive force on people of colour multiple times. Including times where multiple officers physically assault a person in a “gang-like style”.

Or being arrested while driving. Forced to stand on the side of the road in handcuffs while the Police searched the car for what they stated later, suspicious behaviour. 

CSIS has been connected with the mass wire-tapping and blatant discrimination and harassment against Tamil activists in 2009. Following activists, visiting homes, threatening legal action, threatening with status claims in Canada. In 2009, law enforcement attacked, arrested and beat Tamil civilians who were protesting the death of over 140,000 civilians. 

These fraudulent institutions must be held accountable, the Elites in the Tamil community need to be confronted on their role of cooperation in the genocide of the Indigenous communities, and the murders of countless black and people of colour. 

Vijay Thanigasalam a Progressive Conservative the elected Member of Provincial Parliament for Scarborough- Rouge River, disowned his previously held beliefs and had Maxime Bernier at his campaign launch. Bernier is quoted saying that immigrants live in “ghettos and tribes”.

Bernier is alleged to have ties with neo-Nazi groups, and his racist nature was seen by his public support for Bill 21 that introduced the ban of religious symbols in Quebec. Bernier was called out by NDP leader Jagmeet Singh in the Federal election debates of 2019. Vijay has yet to comment on the social unrest, systematic racism, or Police brutality currently being witnessed across the city and nation. Truly disconnected from the people, his only form of support being #blackouttuesday. Empty and opportunistic.  

The shocking thing is not that this happens every day, it’s the fact that people in our country think murder and abuse at the hands of law enforcement are unique situations.

Wannabe uncle Toms, dancing to the stolen Indigenous heartbeat of mother earth, continue to deceive the community. Roundtable discussions, webinars, and studies directed at the culture of anti-blackness, racism within South Asian communities, have been exhausted. 

Time has arrived to engage with Black activists, indigenous activists, working-class communities to provide immediate action, true solidarity. The police force must be dismantled and reorganized by its communities into programs that uplift the community. The Tamil community has the responsibility to hold it’s elites accountable. 

We have faced violence at the hands of the criminal justice system. The elite of all our communities plays a large part in maintaining the oppressive status quo of the criminal justice system. It’s the working class that suffers, class unity is something we have in common with all communities that are affected.

As Tamils with a broken identity, shattered by colonization and occupation. Culture, heritage, and sovereignty ripped away, forcing Tamils into a melting pot of cultures.  We appropriate and consume; when the calls to action arrive, it can not be limited to a social media post. 

Show Up. Wake Up. The time for offering suggestions is over, the State has engaged in a war against Indigenous, Black, communities of colour, and the working class.

The time to fight is now, death needs to be stopped immediately, not another life lost at the hands of the murder force. Don’t wait until the next death, the next one will be one of us.

Share

Leave a comment

Newsletter subscribe