On July 21st, organizers from Black Lives Matter Nogojiwanong hosted Defund the Peterborough Police: Digital Direct Action. This was a successful and well-attended email and phone zap event to bring justice for BIPOC Canadians that have recently lost their lives to unjust police brutality – Regis Korchinski-Paquet, Chantel Moore, D’Andre Campbell and Ejaz Choudry, and to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
This event was organized in an effort to take grassroots action towards defunding the local police and push community leaders to allocate funds to services that require more support. Rather than spending $26.4 million dollars on the Peterborough police budget, our leaders might better serve the community by investing in affordable housing, employment opportunities, health care, mental health services, education, arts programs, community centres and many other social services.
The event took place over Zoom, from 3PM to 5PM with over 30 participants in attendance. Documents were provided to all those that attended with a list of local politicians, and their contact information. By the end of the event, a total of 154 phone calls had been made asking our politicians for 3 pledges:
- To never again vote to increase the Peterborough Police Services budget
- To commit to defunding the Peterborough Police Services budget
- To prioritize the expansion of community-led health and safety initiatives over investment into the police
In the past few months there has been an increase in police presence downtown in Peterborough as a response to COVID-19 regulations. This includes the recent expansion of the Peterborough police into the Transit Terminal. Members of the community have also been weary of the donated Oshkosh Sandcat military vehicle. As stated by Black Lives Matter Nogojiwanong, actions like this do not keep communities safe, but further threaten the lives of Black peoples, Indigenous peoples, people of colour, LGBTQ2S+ peoples, unhoused peoples, street based sex workers, people with disabilities, those experiencing poverty and more.
Defunding efforts have been taking place in the US, as a response to George Floyd’s death and national mobilization that has been taking place during the past few months. Community organizers were able to push Minneapolis police to unanimously approve a proposal to eliminate the city’s police department to build a more holistic approach to public safety.
“We know that we have the power to create change if we mobilize and work together. People all over the globe and especially in the US have been making demands and taking action and we have seen concrete legislation towards defunding police and removing police from schools.” – BLM Nogojiwanong
Police officers should not be the first responders to mental health crises, as this has been the cause of injury and death to members of marginalized communities. Although the event took place over 2 hours, the phone and email zaps are continuing until voices are heard and commitments are made from our local politicians. For those interested in partaking in this direct action, you can follow BLM Nogojiwanong on Facebook for more information on participating in the phone and email zaps, as well as becoming a volunteer.