Raising a voice against racism

Thousands gathered in front of the Superior Court of Justice Tuesday to demand an end to racism and racial profiling

Thousands gathered in front of the Superior Court of Justice Tuesday to demand an end to racism and racial profiling


“Hands up! Don’t Shoot!”

This was one of the many phrases chanted by a raucous crowd of people of all backgrounds who packed Toronto’s University Ave. to show solidarity for the events of Ferguson, MO.

Thousands gathered in front of the Superior Court of Justice building on Tuesday night, across the street from the United States consulate, to display their anger and disappointment in the justice system, as well as speak out against police brutality and racial profiling as a dozen police officers looked on.

“I don’t think black teens should be shot just because of the colour of their skin and their identity,” said Javon Samuel, one of the attendees at the protest.

At the protest, black people killed in police-related violence in Canada and the U.S. were honoured with calls for change and a moment of silence.

The protest took place one day after the grand jury in Missouri’s St. Louis County decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the death of Mike Brown, who was killed on Aug. 9. Crowds of protesters took to the streets around the country from Ferguson to New York City.

For some who attended the protest, it was an opportunity to learn more about the trials black people face everyday. Shelley Burke, an attendee at the protest, brought her nephew so he could learn about racism.

“I feel like at 15 he’s kind of insulated. He finds that racism is over and I just want to show him that it’s not,” said Burke.

“As a black male that he [should be] aware of what’s going on because he’s the future too. I explain racism to him. He can’t believe something so illogical and yeah, it is illogical, but it’s there and you need to be aware of it.”

Burke was among many who brought young people to the protest. There were several children of all backgrounds taking part with their parents. Burke says she hopes that people will learn something from the protest.

“ You tell your children to tell the truth and everything will be okay [but] the system itself tell lies and they get away with it. There’s a huge disconnection,” she said.

Many at the protest carried signs with slogans saying the justice system has failed them and are urging for people to start changes.

Some, however, like Michael Oliphant, are pessimistic that protests will change anything.

“I’m always skeptical of these kinds of events,” he said.

Oliphant does hope that the “rising pressure that white supremacy seems to be exerting on non-white people, especially black people” will make more people stand up against racism.

Burke, unlike Oliphant, said that something good could come out of the protests in Toronto and all over the U.S.

“I think tonight was for me, very powerful that everybody came together and I hope from this is the start of something,” she said.