Blog Series


July 9th, 2016     by Caitlin Blennerhassett     Comments

Illustrator: Erin McPhee

Trigger warning: policy brutality, violence

Philando Castile, 32, was shot and killed Wednesday by police in St. Paul, Minnesota. Castile’s girlfriend began streaming live video shortly after the shooting where she explains that the couple was stopped for a broken taillight, Castile had notified the officer that he had a licence to carry a handgun, and was reaching for his identification as instructed. The graphic video showing Castile suffering from a chest wound has sparked condemnation and widespread protests. Both officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave.

Trigger warning: policy brutality, violence

Philando Castile’s death came only a day after the shooting death by police of Alton Sterling, 37. Sterling matched the description of a suspect identified in an anonymous tip given to police that a man in a red shirt who was selling CDs had pointed a gun at someone. Two cellphone videos captured the shooting in which police pin Sterling to the ground and shoot him in the chest. It has since been revealed that the officers involved in the shooting have been investigated and subsequently cleared five times in their seven years working for the Baton Rouge police department.

For an analysis of the policing of poor people’s survival strategies (Alton Sterling sold CDs, Eric Garner sold cigarettes), check out this Salon article by Daniel Denvir.

The hashtag #CarefreeBlackKids2k16 was launched on Twitter by Heben Nigatu in response to the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, to amplify pictures and videos of Black youth living life. Check it out for some self care following this difficult week.

The past weekend marked the culmination of Toronto’s annual Pride festivities. At Sunday’s massive parade honoured group Black Lives Matter - Toronto (BLMTO) staged a sit-in, halting the parade route for 30 minutes while the group submitted a list of demands to the festival’s organizers. Mathieu Chantelois, Pride Toronto’s executive director, signed that list of demands and, in the days after the parade, has since backed away from his commitment stating, “What I did (Sunday) was made the parade move.”

BLMTO says that Pride celebrations are not an inclusive space for LGBTQ members who are Black. One of the demands, the removal of police presence from the parade, has raised critiques of BLMTO’s tactics. Pride Toronto’s volunteer team lead Jacqie Lucas has resigned to protest the organization’s handling of BLMTO’s demands.

Janaya Khan, BLMTO co-founder, spoke to Maclean’s about why marginalized groups shouldn’t always bear the burden of truth. Also see Desmond Cole, journalist and activist, speak about the sit-in here.

Community members have written a statement in support of Black Lives Matter – Toronto; become a signatory at

If you work in health and healing consider signing this letter in support of Black Lives Matter Toronto and of their demands levied at this year’s Toronto Pride parade.

On Thursday in Dallas, Texas, five police officers were killed and seven injured during a protest against policy brutality. The shooter has been identified as 25 year-old Micah Johnson.

Tags: activist report, news flash

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