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Black Lives Matter Sudbury calls on city hall to take action in new letter
Hundreds of people marched in downtown Sudbury on Wednesday to show their support and fight for change. June 3/2020 (Alana Pickrell/CTV News)
In a letter issued Monday afternoon, Black Lives Matter Sudbury and the Laurentian University Graduate Student Association highlighted a number of governance and policing changes they say are needed to address systemic racism and white privilege within the city’s policies.
The first – the use of body cameras for all police officers, where they cite media reports and a study conducted at the Arizona State University’s Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety that found "cameras improve the tone of interactions between officers and the public and provide a valuable piece of evidence for prosecutions — and not just for citizens pursuing complaints against police."
"When you think about, it’s about accountability, and it seems nonsensical to have policing without that level of accountability," said Darius Garneau, Director of Policy and Development for Black Lives Matter Sudbury.
The organizations then points to a provincial study that shows northern Ontario’s high rate of hospitalization and medication use due to depression and mental health issues, as the need to adequately fund “culturally responsive, community-centric, mental health and wellness services.”
"I don’t think they (police) have the training to conduct wellness checks[…]the messaging 'defund the police' is often taken out of context, the Black Lives Matter movement looks different all across the world, depending on where you are, the policing situation is different,"said Garneau when asked about alternatives for the funding.
"Here in Canada we use that same messaging of 'defund the police'…I think that that training could come from within the community and it could be a really great thing for Sudbury, not just the Black community but the network of social workers we have and mental health professionals."
Lastly, the letter calls for additional civilian oversight of policing services in Greater Sudbury through a review of the Greater Sudbury Police Services Board, which they say should include people of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, Persons of Colours) backgrounds in order to address systemic racism.
"Black Lives Matter Sudbury calls on the City of Greater Sudbury and the Province of Ontario to look at all available options to appoint Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Colour to the Police Services Board in order to ensure that the primary civilian oversight of policing services in Greater Sudbury reflects the diversity of its population," the organizations wrote in the letter.
"It’s imperative when you’re going to be policing different types of people that those different types of people are involved in that process," said Garneau.
"Because there are barriers. There are cultural differences, there are racial differences and part of combating that systemic racism is building that understanding."