#ArtTransforms July 16, 2020

SKETCH’s Open Letter Follow-Up

By SKETCH Team

SKETCH responds to Toronto City Council’s June 29th decision on Motion to Defund Toronto Police Budget by 10%

On June 29th, Toronto City Council:

  • Voted to increase the Toronto Police Service budget (which is ultimately determined by the province of Ontario through the Police Services Act)
  • Passed the motion to equip all police officers with Body-Worn Cameras
  • Failed to pass a motion to work together with Black, Indigenous and People of Colour community-led organizations to develop an alternative to emergency response involving the police
  • Passed the motion to request the City Manager to report on the implementation of a Mobile Crisis Assistance Intervention Service that would deploy unarmed, medically trained crisis intervention assistance personnel, based on the “CAHOOTS” model from Eugene, Oregon.

See here for a full description of the decisions that the City Council has adopted.

SKETCH Working Arts supports the advocacy, platforms and calls to action from Toronto Prisoners’ Rights Project, Black Lives Matter – Toronto, Defund.ca and NoPrisons.ca to defund the police and invest in arts, education, increased mental health services, housing initiatives, income security, harm reduction services, accessible rehabilitation, mutual aid, conflict resolution services, transformative justice, and other community-based support systems. 

Defunding the police and investing in community-based programs is one step in the direction of the larger goal of abolition in policing (and prisons!) For more on policing abolition, please check out this great infographic created by Critical Resistance.org.

Next steps:

  1. Sign Not Another Black Life’s petition to email your Councillors to demand immediate defunding of police and reinvestment into programs which support BIPOC communities and keep everyone safe. 
  2. Follow on social media and donate to the work of Toronto Prisoners’ Rights Project, Black Lives Matter – Toronto, Defund.ca and NoPrisons.ca.
  3. Watch Progress Toronto’s panel discussion on Defunding the Police here.

Petitions and Initiatives for Justice:

  1. Justice for Regis Korchinski-Paquet. Join the public memorial and 1st Annual Regis Korchinski-Paquet Walk for Justice on July 25, 1pm at 100 High Park.
  2. Toronto SIU accountability, Justice for Regis
  3. Justice for Chantel Moore – Petition to pressure the Edmundston Police Force to criminally charge the officer (whose name is yet to be released) with a count of second-degree murder. (CW: the petition page contains a photo of Chantel Moore – which her family has asked DO NOT be shared): 
  4. Petition to ban carding in Canada
  5. Petition to ban the use of tear gas in Canada
  6. Demand a police use-of-force database in Canada
  7. Latinx, Afro-Latin-America, Abya Yala Education Network (LAEN) #PoliceFreeSchoolsONWide Campaign
  8. COVID-19 RESPONSE & RECOVERY MUST ENSURE MIGRANT RIGHTS
  9. Sign-on to support the Criminalization and Punishment Education Project advocacy for Accommodations for Indigenous prisoners at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre 

Templates:

  1. Defunding Toronto Police
  2. Demand wellness checks be removed from police jurisdictions 
  3. Justice for Chantal Moore email template to gov
  4. Call for Canada to immediately implement 231 calls for justice and UNDRIP
  5. Support All Prisoners Now – COVID-19 federal prison measures, 5 demands
  6. COVID-19 RESPONSE & RECOVERY MUST ENSURE MIGRANT RIGHTS – Email organizational endorsements to info@migrantrights.ca  

SKETCH has sent the following advocacy letters:

  1. Joint Platform A letter to Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council, and Economic Development and Culture of the City, advocating for increases in funding to for Black Artists, Administrators, initiatives and organizations, sent June 16.
  2. To our community and to Mayor John Tory supporting the defunding of the Toronto Police Service budget, prior to June 29th Council meeting to vote on the Motion, sent June 25.
  3. Endorsement of Toronto Prisoners’ Rights Project Forum on Community-led Safety/Alternatives to Policing on June 20 on social media on June 19.

SKETCH will continue to write letters where it can for campaigns that will have impact. It will consider best how it can support community-led strategies first.

SKETCH COMMUNITY UPDATE (as of August 14, 2020)

Thanks to all who participated in Creating Against the Odds! Our online experiments offered May, June and July. Thanks to everyone who made those experiments during these challenging times.

SKETCH studios at 180 Shaw Street will remain closed to public access until further notice. We are forced in this time of pandemic to rework and consider our sustainability given public health priorities and resources. We will keep you posted on new designs in September.

Connect here for wellness supports.

We've launched our Equity at SKETCH Web page to be in dialogue with you about our Equity goals.

Black activists and communities everywhere are working hard to lead all society to call out and authentically address the violent impacts of White Supremacy in policing, justice, education, health, community and in all systems and infrastructures across Turtle Island (North America). Anti-Black racism is deeply embedded in every fabric of our society. This, as well as our violent colonial legacy of Indigenous erasure, constant gender discrimination and violence, and the violence and mistreatment of those in the disability community, are pervasive pressing truths that we need to face and address, daily, to make change in real ways. We need boldness, energy, honesty, deep listening and accountability, to generate sustained action and inversions of power in the immediate, medium and long term.

What can a community-engaged arts organization in Toronto like us do, to take up its role in this critical renaissance of justice? Join us in learning together with us, what this means.

SKETCH is deeply committed to supporting, learning from and amplifying the brave and creative leadership of young Black Artists and Activists. Check out Art in Pandemic and be inspired by the incredible work of young artists creating during this time.

We call on the Arts Councils to create a Black Artists Fund to support Black Artists and Black Arts and Culture Organizations, recognizing and investing in their leadership in arts and culture, and in building fair and inclusive communities.

Follow us at @SKETCHToronto, and reach out if you have any questions at info@sketch.ca.

Please support us to be a just, accountable and vibrant arts platform for young people on the margins! We need your help now more than ever!

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