#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.