“The tragic shooting death of Andrew Loku should never have occurred. It took place within a police culture that raises troubling questions about policing, mental health, systemic racism and other forms of discrimination. It is imperative that the government take all possible measures to prevent future deaths of this kind. That is the very purpose of the inquest – and the government must move swiftly to implement the jury recommendations and report publicly on their implementation” says Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, Acting Executive Director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
The following is a reprint from Across Boundaries’ Communiqué.
Implement Recommendations of Andrew Loku Inquest: Coalition Asks Province
Press Conference: October 3rd, 2017
At a press conference held at Queen’s Park on Tuesday, October 3rd, a coalition of mental health service providers, supportive housing providers and community activists called upon the Ontario government to implement forthwith the inquest jury recommendations. These recommendations address the urgent need to completely modify and restructure police culture and structure (as testified to by Dr. Kwame McKenzie at the inquest and reflected in jury recommendation number twelve), and the manner in which officers engage in situations involving mental health, race and the intersectionality of same, particularly anti-Black racism.
On June 30, 2017, the Coroner’s jury made 39 recommendations arising out of its consideration of four weeks of evidence concerning Mr. Loku’s death at the hands of police in circumstances involving the intersectionality of race and mental health. While these recommendations do not address the full gamut of changes needed to address the critical issues that arise in this regard, they signal an important start, and should be implemented without delay with the exception of the use of tasers which is controversial.
Seventeen of the thirty-nine recommendations address the issue of policing and race. And in several of its recommendations, the jury chose to specifically address the issue of anti-Black racism.
This province has a long history of non-responsiveness to inquest jury recommendations. A lack of meaningful response to the Loku recommendations by the Government and all responsible agencies quite simply will not be tolerated.
The recommendations are directed specifically at the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Service, the Ministry of Health, the Toronto Police Service, the Toronto Police Services Board, and CMHA.
Coalition members have written to Premier Wynne, requesting a meeting with her and the involved Ministers to impress upon the government the need for leadership in ensuring full and expeditious implementation and to determine how it plans to do so.
The letter to Premier Wynne was released at the press conference.
On behalf of the undersigned:
1. Anti-Black Racism Network
2. Accommodation, Information and Support Inc. (AIS)
3. Across Boundaries: An Ethnoracial Mental Health Centre
4. Addictions and Mental Health Ontario
5. Black Coalition For AIDS Prevention
6. Canadian Civil Liberties Association
7. Canadian Mental Health Association
8. Colour of Poverty – Colour of Change
9. Dream Team
10. Empowerment Council
11. Fife House
12. Houselink Community Homes
13. Human Rights Legal Support Centre
14. Law Union of Ontario
15. Madison Community Services
16. Mainstay Housing
17. Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants
18. Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre
19. Peel Coalition Against Racial Discrimination (PCARD)
20. Reconnect Community Health Services
21. Regeneration Community Services
22. Street Haven
23. Street Health
24. Taibu Community Health Centre
26. Urban Alliance for Race Relation
27. Wellesley Institute
28. York Youth Coalition(YYC)
29. Abdillahi, Idil
30. Chow, Olivia
31. Councillor Mike Layton
32. Councillor Joe Mihevc
33. Councillor Michael Thompson
34. Cressy, Gordon
35. Ewart, Doug
36. Galabuzi, Grace-Edward
37. MPP Peter Tabuns
38. Mukherjee, Alok
39. Roach, Kikelola
40. Singh J.D., Knia
41. Singh, Anne-Marie
QUOTES FROM SIGNATORIES
“Anti-Black racism, for the first time in the history of inquests, was identified and named in the death of Andrew Loku. In the face of historical non-responsiveness to inquest recommendations we urge the Government of Ontario to show leadership in working with the community to implement the recommendations that will not only improve the experiences but more importantly save the lives of individuals from racialized and Black communities living with a mental health or addiction issue and their interactions with the Police.”
– Aseefa Sarang
Across Boundaries: An Ethnoracial Mental Health Centre
“The tragic shooting death of Andrew Loku should never have occurred. It took place within a police culture that raises troubling questions about policing, mental health, systemic racism and other forms of discrimination. It is imperative that the government take all possible measures to prevent future deaths of this kind. That is the very purpose of the inquest – and the government must move swiftly to implement the jury recommendations and report publicly on their implementation.”
– Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, LL.B., LL.M.
Acting Executive Director
Canadian Civil Liberties Association
“Coroner’s inquest recommendations are meant to prevent further deaths. Yet, deaths at the hands of the police have continued, and recommendations made by the coroner’s juries go unheeded. It is time for the province to get serious and take responsibility for ensuring that recommendations, such as those related to anti-Black racism in policing and gathering of data on deaths in police interactions are implemented. Otherwise, public will lose confidence in the utility of these inquests.”
– Alok Mukherjee
Distinguished Visiting Professor
Equity & Community Inclusion, and,
Department of Criminology
“The Jury has presented a thoughtful, broad, comprehensive and timely set of recommendations on how to better protect the public when mental health issues are involved,” said Councillor Michael Thompson, Scarborough Centre, Ward 37. “Toronto’s sociological profile is changing rapidly, and current approaches have fallen behind. Sweeping changes are needed to ensure that policing, corrections and health services are prepared to help and protect people who are dealing with mental health crises, no matter what their backgrounds.”
– Michael Thompson
Chair, Economic Development and Culture Committee
Chair, Invest Toronto
Councillor, Scarborough Centre
About the Canadian Civil Liberties Association
The CCLA is an independent, non-profit organization with supporters from across the country. Founded in 1964, the CCLA is a national human rights organization committed to defending the rights, dignity, safety, and freedoms of all people in Canada.
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