VoiceIsNeeded4b-Blog

To celebrate my birthday, I’m asking for donations of ANY denomination ($1-$1000) to be made to one or more of these Black Community Support Organizations:

Black Youth Helpline: Donations | Instagram | Website

WellNest Therapy: Donations | Instagram | Website

The Healing Collective: Donations | Instagram | Website

Black Women in Motion: Donations | Instagram | Website

Black Legal Action Centre: Donations | Instagram | Website

ALSO! Sara Elgamal has created an email template to defund the police budget and reallocate to community-led health and safety initiatives. Please take a moment out of your day to send one or more emails out to the government officials listed below. THANK YOU.

2020 Toronto Police Budget – Call For Action/Defunding Email Template

Dear [City of Toronto elected official],

I am writing to you today to express my outrage regarding the Toronto Police Service budget of $1.076 billion from the total $13.5 billion 2020 operational budget for the City of Toronto (an increase of 4% since 2019). This astronomical police budget costs the taxpayer more than firefighters, paramedics, libraries and public housing combined. Following the recent horrific death of young Black and Indigenous woman Regis Korchinski-Paquet, I call upon our elected officials to ensure a transparent investigation into her death and start divesting from the systematically violent Toronto Police Service immediately.

I am asking that you, as an elected official, pledge to do the following:

1. To never again vote to increase the Toronto Police Service budget.

2. To propose and implement a TPS budget cut of, at the absolute minimum, $276 million or just 10% of Mayor John Tory’s estimate of a $2.76 billion budget shortfall – what he called  “one of the greatest financial challenges the city has ever faced” – as we struggle to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

3. To prioritize the expansion of community-led health and safety initiatives over future financial investment into the Toronto Police Service.

In the face of cyclical police violence happening throughout North America right now, there is no better time to commit ourselves to change. We have seen that investing in body cameras, civilian reviews or de-escalation and implicit bias training doesn’t work. What we need in Toronto is leadership that can initiate a reduction in the immense police violence that targets our most marginalized people, toward the eventual abolition of police and prisons. In order to do this, I call on you and the City Council to reduce funding in these ways:

– Withhold pensions and don’t rehire cops involved in excessive force cases

– Require cops to be liable for misconduct settlements

– Reduce the size of the police force, and stop sending armed/uniformed cops on mental health-related calls.

An increased police presence, which includes TTC inspectors and enforcement officers, does not keep us safe, rather it directly threatens the lives of our most vulnerable communities (BIPOC, the LGBTQ2S+ community, unhoused people, street-based sex workers, people with disabilities, people experiencing poverty, etc). Instead of investing in policing, our city must prioritize alternatives like education, increased mental health services, housing initiatives, income security, harm reduction services, accessible rehabilitation, mutual aid, social workers, conflict resolution services, transformative justice, and other vital community-based support systems. These initiatives must support our most vulnerable communities and centre the experiences of Black, Indigenous, and people of colour in Toronto. We should look to and learn from organizations like Black Lives Matter TorontoBlack Legal Action CentreToronto Police Accountability CoalitionPASANToronto Prisoners’ Rights ProjectMaggie’sShowing Up for Racial Justice, and so many more.

Our city can lead the way in defining public safety through community not cops, where Black, Indigenous and people of colour are free from police oppression. I am asking you to create a better future for all residents of Toronto by divesting from harmful policing and investing in life-affirming services.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

[Your postal code]

PHONE SCRIPT:

(fyi – calls are prioritized and more effective. leave your number to get a call back)

Hi there,

My name is _________ and I am calling to express my outrage regarding the astronomical Toronto Police Service budget of $1.076 billion. Following the recent horrific death of young Black and Indigenous woman Regis Korchinski-Paquet, I call upon you to ensure a transparent investigation into her death and start divesting from the systematically violent Toronto Police Service immediately.

Please pledge to do the following:

1. To never again vote to increase the TPS budget.

2. To commit to defunding the TPS budget as we are in “one of the greatest financial challenges the city has ever faced” due to COVID

3. To prioritize the expansion of community-led health and safety initiatives over investment into the police

An increased police presence, which includes TTC inspectors and enforcement officers, does not keep us safe, rather it directly threatens the lives of Black, Indigenous and people of colour. Please commit to investing in community, not cops.

Thank you,

[Your name and phone #]

SEND THIS TO AND CALL:

Mayor John Tory (Police Board) ) |  mayor_tory@toronto.ca

Councillor Michael Ford (Etobicoke North, Police Board) | councillor_mford@toronto.ca

Councillor Stephen Holyday (Etobicoke Centre)  |  councillor_holyday@toronto.ca

Councillor Mark Grimes (Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Economic & Community Development Board) | councillor_grimes@toronto.ca

Councillor Gord Perks (Parkdale-High Park) | councillor_perks@toronto.ca

Councillor Frances Nunziata (York South-Weston, Police Board) | councillor_nunziata@toronto.ca

Councillor James Pasternak (York Centre) |  councillor_pasternak@toronto.ca

Councillor Anthony Perruzza (Humber River-Black Creek) |  councillor_perruzza@toronto.ca

Councillor Mike Colle (Eglinton-Lawrence) | councillor_colle8@toronto.ca

Councillor Ana Bailão (Davenport) | councillor_bailao@toronto.ca

Councillor Joe Cressy (Spadina-Fort York, Economic & Community Development Board) | councillor_cressy@toronto.ca

Councillor Mike Layton (University-Rosedale) |  councillor_layton@toronto.ca

Councillor Josh Matlow (Toronto-St. Paul’s) |  councillor_matlow@toronto.ca

Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam (Toronto Centre) | councillor_wongtam@toronto.ca

Councillor Paula Fletcher (Toronto-Danforth) |  councillor_fletcher@toronto.ca

Councillor Jaye Robinson (Don Valley West) | councillor_robinson@toronto.ca

Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong (Don Valley East) | councillor_minnan-wong@toronto.ca

Councillor Shelley Carroll (Don Valley North, Economic & Community Development Board) | councillor_carroll@toronto.ca

Councillor John Filion (Willowdale) | councillor_filion@toronto.ca

Councillor Brad Bradford (Beaches-East York) | councillor_bradford@toronto.ca

Councillor Gary Crawford (Scarborough Southwest) |  councillor_crawford@toronto.ca

Councillor Michael Thompson (Scarborough Centre,  Economic & Community Development Board) | councillor_thompson@toronto.ca

Councillor Jim Karygiannis (Scarborough-Agincourt) | councillor_karygiannis@toronto.ca

Councillor Cynthia Lai (Scarborough North, Economic & Community Development Board) | councillor_lai@toronto.ca

Councillor Paul Ainslie (Scarborough-Guildwood) | councillor_ainslie@toronto.ca

Councillor Jennifer McKelvie (Scarborough-Rouge Park) | councillor_mckelvie@toronto.ca

Find your councillor here: https://www.toronto.ca/city-government/council/members-of-council/

WHO ELSE CAN I CONTACT ABOUT THE TORONTO POLICE BUDGET?

*note: the City Council members vote on the TPS budget, but Premier Ford & MPPs have a say over OPP budget and provincial funding that gets directed to local police. Your MP can speak to RCMP funding.

DOUG FORD, PREMIER MPP | premier@ontario.ca

SYLVIA JONES, ONTARIO SOLICITOR GENERAL | sylvia.jones@ontario.ca

YOUR LOCAL MPP!

YOUR LOCAL MP!

ANDREA HORWATH, LEADER OF THE OFFICIAL OPPOSITION, NDP MPP | ahorwath-qp@ndp.on.ca

STEVEN DEL DUCA, LEADER OF ONTARIO LIBERAL PARTY | info.leader@ontarioliberal.ca

ADDITIONAL TPS BOARD MEMBERS:

  • Telephone:  416-808-8080
  • Email: board@tpsb.ca
  • Attention: Jim Hart (Chair), Marie Moliner (Vice-Chair), Uppala Chandrasekera (Member), Ainsworth M. Morgan (Member)

York Residents – Defund York Regional Police template HERE.

Hamilton Residents – Defund Hamilton Police template HERE.

Ottawa Residents – Defund Ottawa Police template HERE.

Peel Residents – Defund Peel Police template HERE.

Further resources:

Note: An earlier version of this letter called for suspension of “paid administrative leave for police under investigation” — this has been removed on advice from lawyers because it is illegal in Canada to not pay someone on administrative suspension, and it’s illegal to impose an unpaid disciplinary suspension without a paid administrative one first while investigating.