(Photo: President of UARR, Nigel Barriffe, declaring enough is enough.)
On Sunday, July 5th, Andrew Loku was killed at the hands of the police within two minutes of their arrival to a social community housing unit subsidized by the Canadian Mental Health Association. Mr. Loku had been carrying a hammer and was distressed. He was not a threat, as a helpful neighbour was present helping him calm down. Mr. Loku had been complaining about constant noise from a resident who lived above him. All he wanted was to sleep.
Mr. Loku was suffering from mental health issues. He was a child soldier survivour from South Sudan. His country has been involved in Civil War since 1983. Mr. Loku has a wife and 5 kids who live in South Sudan. He came to Canada as a refugee, with a plan to bring his family to Canada. He graduated from George Brown College in the Construction program.
Mr. Loku is not the first case of an innocent life taken at the hands of the police. Nor he is the first Black man to be killed at the hands of the police.
This morning the Urban Alliance on Race Relations joined Across Boundaries, the African Canadian Legal Clinic, Canadian Mental Health Association, Black Lives Matter-Toronto and the Anti-Black Racism network to speak once again about the over-representation of African Canadians with mental health issues killed by the police.
This conversation is not new. In 2013, in response to the death of Sammy Yatim, then Chief of Toronto Police, Bill Blair, issued an Independent Review of the Use of Lethal Force by the Toronto Police Services (better known as the Iaccobucci Report). In this report was a call for better police training, oversight and a mobile crisis team to support the police when responding to people in crisis.
Yet, two years later another life is taken. Enough is Enough.
Our sincerest condolences to Mr. Andrew Loku, his family and his friends. We all should live in a society where we should not be afraid to exist because of the colour of our skin and the state of our mental health. Black Lives and All Lives Matter.
Executive Director, Jason Merai
To contribute to a crowd source fund for Mr. Andrew Loku, please follow this link: http://toronto.cmha.ca/news/andrew-loku/#.VaA30cZViko