More than 200 people gathered in Springer Market Square on Sunday afternoon to show solidarity against racism and police violence.
Defund Police YGK and Black Luck Collective hosted the vigil in memory of 23-year-old Anthony Aust, who fell to his death from a window when a SWAT team entered his family’s apartment using a no-knock warrant on Oct. 7. Aust’s brother is a student at Queen’s.
The groups collected donations from the crowd to fund Black Lives Matter causes across Canada. They also distributed candles and protest signs to those present at the vigil, bearing messages like “end white supremacy” and “defund the police.”
Hand sanitizer was available, participants were asked to wear a mask, and pylons were placed six feet apart to encourage physical distancing.
Marshall, one of the event’s organizers, referred to the Kingston Police Services Board, which has a budget of approximately $43.4 million this year—10.8 per cent of the City’s $400, 267,081 operating budget for 2020.
“The reality of state violence and abandonment continues to impact our communities, manifesting as so many individual lives lost that could be swept under the rug by those with the power to act,” Marshall said on behalf of the organizers.
The vigil also remembered Abdirahman Abdi, a Somali-Canadian man killed in a violent police arrest in Ottawa in 2016, those protesting #ENDSARS who were killed by the Nigerian government, and other Black lives lost to racism and police violence in Canada.
“The regular use of no-knock warrants and dynamic entry is itself a sign of the police’s own sense of impunity,” Marshall said. “We need to address Anthony’s death as part of a larger pattern of police violence.”
The vigil began with several speakers, then the mic was opened up to any person in the crowd wishing to speak.
“I am here today because I feel sick. I am disgusted and I am appalled,” one speaker, Mofi Badmos, diversity and inclusivity coordinator in the Commerce program at Smith School of Business, said.
“It is also another thing to be here and see Black lives being disregarded and mistreated every single day globally,” she said. “We are here taking up space, and grieving, screaming, Black lives matter, every single day.”
Some acknowledged their own privilege as white settlers.
“I’m acutely aware that some of us can just think about it and other people are under attack,” said Jacqueline Davies, adjunct associate professor in the Queen’s department of philosophy.
“So I especially want to express my sympathy and concern for everyone here and everywhere who also feels terrorized and targeted by actions like this from the police.”
A couple of attendees told The Journal about their desire to show support for Aust and the Black Lives Matter Movement.
“I just wanted to show support to Anthony Aust and his family […] and just every other Black life that’s threatened and every other minority that’s threatened by the police,” Grace Johnston, ArtSci ’23, said.
“I [wanted] to show condolences for Anthony Aust and all the atrocities around the world,” Will Ippolito, ArtSci ’23, added.
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