November 23, 2017
Thursday, November 23 political activist and journalist Desmond Cole made a surprise and welcome appearance at the OFL Power ON 14th Biennial Convention.
He began by thanking the people who supported his court appearance, on behalf of Dafonte Miller, and all those who have experienced police brutality.
Cole was arrested in July after staging a sit-in during a Toronto Police Services Board meeting. His action was in protest of the way police handled the investigation of Const. Michael Theriault who was charged in the beating of 19-year-old Miller in December.
“Maybe they want to make an example out of me, I’m very happy for them to try. They have no idea who they are messing with,” said Cole. “The point is that they are not messing with me. When I saw people outside the courthouse today that’s what I realized. We are fighting back.”
Cole recounted the words of his lawyer, Julian Falconer: “there is no doubt about who is responsible: a Toronto police officer and his brother.”
Cole elaborated that “Miller was attacked and brutally assaulted by individuals while he and his friends were walking.”
In calling on convention delegates to support radical black activism, Cole stressed that the new provincial legislation on police brutality doesn’t go far enough in his opinion but credits Black Lives Matter Toronto (BLMTO) for the strong advocacy efforts that helped establish the foundation for the law. This year, BLMTO’s political actions ensured that uniformed police officers did not march in the Toronto Pride Parade.
“There are people in this city who are not ready to stand side-by-side with the police while the police are brutalizing them. I want to ask all of you in this room, whatever union you belong to: I am asking you to open up your wallets and support radical black activism where you live,” said Cole.
“It’s true, through practices like carding, black children are disproportionately affected. We need to strengthen oversight, and that’s for all of you. Change is being made by strong, committed groups of Black people and their allies. The black people who are fighting in your communities are not just fighting for themselves, they are fighting for all of you. We are fighting for a safer, more equitable province in Ontario.”
Cole will return to court on January 16, 2018.
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