Kingstonians decry police violence

Protesters gather in solidarity with Ferguson to protest police brutality and institutional racism

Protesters gathered in the rain at Market Square on Aug. 20 to protest police brutality.
Protesters gathered in the rain at Market Square on Aug. 20 to protest police brutality.

“No justice, no peace, disarm the police” was one slogan chanted the evening of Aug. 20 by a group of protesters gathered at Market Square.

The protest was held in reaction to the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri on Aug. 9, and subsequent weeks of unrest and protests in Ferguson and throughout the United States.

Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on Aug. 9. Since the shooting, protests have escalated and the militarization of American police forces has been called into question.

Despite heavy rain, the event, held at 7 p.m., attracted around 25 protesters. The participants stood facing the street holding signs and chanting.

The protesters chanted, “No cops, no borders, fuck law, fuck order,” and “No more pigs in our community, no pigs!” Signs held by the protesters included “We demand police accountability”, “Ferguson, MO: the true face of American ‘democracy’” and “Black lives matter”.

The event organizer, Raissa Simone, shouted along with the protesters using a megaphone, and gave a short speech at the end of the protest. During her speech, she said the violence in Ferguson was emblematic of a racist society.

“Let’s remember that black life matters,” she said during the speech.

Protesters also handed out information sheets about the events in Ferguson and a memorial fund established for Michael Brown.

The protest lasted about half an hour. Simone told the Journal she was the sole organizer, although friends from OPIRG Kingston allowed her to use a printer for print materials.

“Brea [Hutchinson] and OPIRG were great in letting me use all their resources and being great advocates,” she said following the event.

Simone said she wanted to see more demonstrations in the community about the events in Ferguson, which was why she organized the event.

“I organized this as a means for expressing solidarity with those who experienced racist violence, a means of having the community rally,” she said.

There have been multiple instances of police violence against black youth, especially in the United States, she said, but the shooting of Michael Brown was a tipping point for her.

“The way in which black youth are treated is horrific, and the way in which racist violence continues is horrific,” she said.

“I think we need to do everything to stop that or draw attention to it.”

Brea Hutchinson, the program coordinator for OPIRG, attended the protest. Hutchinson, who said she wasn’t representing OPIRG or attending in a professional capacity, said the death of Levi Schaeffer, a friend’s son, motivated her to participate.

An OPP officer killed Schaeffer on June 24, 2009, after he was believed to have stolen a boat.

“He had a plastic knife, and the police shot him when he was 35 feet away,” she said. She added that the police filed their notes on the incident several days afterwards.

“Stealing a boat, theft under $5,000, is a sentence of maximum one year in jail. He got an execution sentence, and he wasn’t even found guilty,” she said.

Kayley Marsh, another attendee, held a sign reading “Kingston police cost 36 m $/year and rising”. She said some of the funds spent on the police force in Kingston could go towards alleviating poverty.

People with little money can end up being “criminalized” by the justice system, she added, and charged for offences they are forced into committing.

“People have no money and they have to do things that are against the law, like sleeping in a park because the shelters are full and they have no money to rent an apartment,” she said.

Examples of preventative programs, she said, could include providing free meals or childcare subsidies such as those offered in Hamilton, Ont.

“There are so many things a municipality can actually do to alleviate the initial causes of crime in a city,” she said.


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