November 20th, 2015
URBAN ALLIANCE ON RACE RELATIONS
CALLS FOR SOLIDARITY WITH MUSLIM CANADIAN COMMUNITY
Urban Alliance on Race Relations (UARR) stands in solidarity with the Muslim community in Canada and wholeheartedly opposes recent attacks directed toward our fellow Canadian Muslims.
UARR condemns all acts of terrorism. We are all grieving the loss of life due to recent terrorist attacks in Beirut, Paris, and elsewhere. Unfortunately, events overseas have resulted in a rise of incidents of Islamophobia within our own communities in Canada.
On November 14, 2015, the only Islamic Center in Peterborough, Masjid Al-Saalam, was burned in an act of arson that is currently being investigated as a hate crime. Although there were no injuries or fatalities, community members were gathered at the Islamic center merely an hour before the fire.
On November 16, 2015, a Muslim woman was attacked and robbed in Toronto while picking up her children in the Flemingdon Park area. Reportedly, two assailants assaulted her and called her a terrorist.
The most recent act of Islamophobia occurred today: November 19, 2015. Two more Muslim women were verbally assaulted on a TTC subway. The latest incident involved three suspects: two men and one woman who made racists and derogatory comments toward the Muslim woman. The suspects fled the scene once a witness activated the emergency alarm system in the train.
UARR President Nigel Barriffe has urged “community members and faith groups to stand united against intolerance of all forms and demand our political leaders to take swift action in addressing Islamophobia in our communities.”
The UARR was established in 1975 by a group of Torontonians concerned about the increasing hate- motivated violence against African and South Asian Canadians in Toronto. Our mandate is to work to maintain stable, peaceful and harmonious relationships among our diverse ethno/racial communities in Toronto through research, public education and community engagement involving both the public and private sector.
On December 10, 2015, International Human Rights Day, UARR and community partners are hosting an evening public forum called, “What Can We Do About Religious Profiling?” For details and RSVPs, visit our website or Facebook page: http://www.urbanalliance.ca, https://www.facebook.com/UARRinToronto
For more information please contact:
Nigel Barriffe, President at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 416-427-1192
Jaafar Dirie, Project Coordinator at email@example.com or call 416.703.6607 ext 2
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press conference by the African Canadian Legal Clinic (ACLC), Urban Alliance On Race Relations (UARR), Black Votes Matter (BVM), the Coalition of the Black Trade Unionists (CoBTU), Black Lives Matter (BLM), Dr. Rinaldo Walcott, Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair of the Social Justice and Cultural Studies Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto Department of Sociology and Equity Studies in Education (UofT)
Held on September 1, 2015 in the press room at the office of the ACLC.
Nigel Barriffe, Board Chair, Urban Alliance on Race Relations:
The Urban Alliance on Race Relations joins the African Canadian Legal Clinic, the Anti-Black Racism Network, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, and Black Lives Matter in opposing the ongoing practice of ‘street checks’ or ‘carding’, as the practice is known in Toronto. It is our position that the practice of randomly stopping individuals and collecting their information in a police database is an expression of systemic discrimination and racism in our society, a practice which particularly targets young black and brown men. As the African Canadian Legal Clinic lays out in their Legal Opinion, the practice of carding has “led individuals to lose employment and educational opportunities due to these interactions appearing on police record checks; has institutionalized and justified the criminalization of the African Canadian community; has eroded individuals’ and the community’s collective sense of security; and has detrimentally impacted African Canadians’ sense of human dignity, and created a chilling effect on the community’s engagement with the legal system. The practice is arbitrary, unreasonable and discriminatory. On the basis of experiences members of the community members have had with carding for many years, we support the ACLC’s position that ongoing carding violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Ontario Human Rights Code. The Ontario Government should heed the extensive research and commentary documenting the discriminatory impact of carding and call for an immediate end to the practice.
For 40 years, the Urban Alliance on Race Relations has worked to address racism in society, working proactively with the broader community. In 1975 a group of concerned Torontonians came together to discuss the rise in hate motivated violence against African and South Asian Canadian in Toronto’s public spaces. Today, we persist in this work, examining the institutional racism that continues to face people of colour and other groups experiencing discrimination. Less than 2 months ago, many of the same community members that are present here came together to express sadness and outrage at the death of Andrew Loku at the hands of police, a black man suffering from mental illness, who was shot within two minutes of interaction with police. Like Sammy Yatim two years previously, Andrew Loku’s death demonstrated excessive police use of force against racialized and stigmatized community members, resulting in tragic death. These instances, like carding or police checks, only undermine the community’s trust in police, so that they are seen not as protecting the public, particularly those who are most vulnerable, but as a threat to them.
As a practice, carding is another example of excessive use of power and authority by police and its negative effects are especially felt by people of colour and in large majority by young black and brown people. The Urban Alliance for Race Relations joins in solidarity with the other community groups represented here to call for its immediate end.