The thousands marching in honor of Regis Korchinski-Paquet were anything but “peaceful.”
On Saturday afternoon, thousands filled Christie Pits Park in Toronto, to call out ongoing racial injustice and rally around the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet and too many other visible minorities, involving the police and systems of injustice. While the protesters were entirely non-violent, they were anything but “peaceful.”
Yellow Peril Supports Black Power
No Justice! No Peace! Black Lives Matter, proclaimed the signs held by Olly and Andy, an Asian couple allied with the cause.
“We’ve seen what’s happening down in the states,” Olly said. “And we know Canada’s racist as f*@& too.”
The couple declared their solidarity with the Black community: “So we’re out here. Asians are in support of Black Lives Matter.”
“Every person of color in Toronto knows what happens here,” Olly said. “Indigenous people know what happens here. It’s racist. They’re attacking Asians out here too. We got to stand together.”
The empowered resolve to oppose racism was inspiring and the call for unity was echoed throughout the day.
Black Transgender Lives Matter
Rest In Power! Black Lives Matter — Regis Korchinski-Paquet, George Floyd, Tony McDade, read Shyanne’s sign.
“I’m here today because I’m tired of all the injustice that we are seeing,” she said. “Not just in the United States but here in Canada. We need to use our voices and we need to stick together. It’s really important we show up for the people in our community.”
Shyanne expresses the urgency for media coverage on the brutalities against the trans community.
“Tony McDade [was] a trans man that was recently also killed by police,” she said. “And I feel like there hasn’t been as much media attention for them, so I think it’s really important we recognize trans people are also experiencing this violence as well.”
To Shyanne, her activism is intersectional and rooted in the Black community as a unified collective.
“We are here for everyone,” she said. “And we love all of our people. It doesn’t matter how we identify or how we see people it matters that we show up and that we are all in this and we all suffered.”
Nothing will bring back any of the names on Shyanne’s sign. But when enough of us share her sentiments, we will be able to truly say, “Not Another Black Life.”
Not Another Black Life
Not Another Black Life (NABL) organized the day’s protests to demand accountability for several recent high-profile tragedies involving police and white supremacy; as well as many others that didn’t gather widespread attention.
Several protesters ballooned to thousands, making the social-distancing rule not only impossible to enforce but also follow for the well-intended crowd. PPE and other supportive measures, like hand sanitizer and water, were provided for those that couldn’t bring their own.
The Korchinski-Paquet family was not connected to the protest, as they are focused on the legal proceedings; however, a family member did address the crowd to reiterate that the event should remain peaceful.
The meaning was clear as cities across the U.S. were experiencing riots, burning and looting sparked by a graphic video that showed George Floyd, who was Black, pinned to the ground by a white Minneapolis police officer. The video’s effect was visceral to a population that experiences generational oppression and it certainly played a role in the outrage expressed by many that showed up to protest.
The call to remain peaceful was a call to avoid the same violence erupting down south. It was not a call to be at peace.
NABL’s Facebook page expressed solidarity with Indigenous groups who were in attendance with flags raised and drums beating. The massive crowd marched to police headquarters at Bay and College. They moved down Bloor, filling the street for over 4 kilometres.
“All Lives Matter as well”
At the INN24 station, we had an opportunity to speak with Patience Evbagharu, a youth worker who facilitated the event. At the rally, she could be seen passionately expressing herself to the crowd.
“Not just Black lives matter but all lives matter as well,” she said.
According to Evbagharu, her statement is an appeal to our common humanity. She elaborates on her declaration, saying that it’s imperative to tackle the discrimination occurring on a global scale that injures not just Black communities.
“When I think about eliminating discrimination and racism as a whole,” she says. “It’s very important we amplify the fact Black lives matter, because they do. Our Black people are dying, in international communities, and we want it to end.”
“But really, eliminating that barrier and that stereotype that plagues us, the whole world, by acknowledging the fact that we are all souls. We are all individuals of the heart. All lives matter. It doesn’t matter if you’re Black, white, what gender you are, if you are a human being your life should be accounted for.”
Once again, we heard an expression that called for unity and seeing each individual as a soul. This call for peace did not come from peace. There is real suffering happening.
“Until we can actually, all together, understand that all [lives] should be account for, there will never be peace in this world. There will never be peace in our nations because there will never be a common ground. Everybody wants to play defense, but the truth is, we are amplifying and we are hurt. When we say ‘Black Lives Matter’ it is because we are hurt.”
This powerful expression was motivated by suffering, calling for real foundational level solutions to the racism and discrimination infecting our culture and society.
“I don’t want our intentions to get lost in our actions. I want to make it clear that black lives matter 101 percent! But you know what really matters? All lives, you know what I mean?”
Toronto’s protesters were entirely non-violent but they were not at peace. They were deeply unsettled by a system they see as working against their interests. They were not at peace, they were in pain; in search of answers and solutions. They were looking to find a way to heal, they were looking for justice and reconciliation.
The answers and solutions may not come easy, but what is clear from the display of solidarity on Saturday; they are determined, they expressed love and they have community. It will be fascinating to witness what we all resolve to create together.
Pointing inwardly, Patience said, “If we want peace, it starts with each and every one of us, no matter where we’re from.”
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