Protest planned to demand police action after attack in east Toronto
A rally is being organized for Monday, July 6 to protest police inaction in response to a racist assault in the city's east end.
A rally is being organized for Monday, July 6 in Toronto by the Steelworkers Toronto Area Council, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists - Canada, Toronto East Anti-hate Mobilization and the Black Action Defense Committee to protest police inaction in response to a racist attack on Mark Austin and his partner Candace Zinkweg in the city's east end.
In an open letter to Toronto Mayor John Tory, Councillor Brad Bradford and the Toronto Police Services Board released July 3, United Steelworkers (USW) Ontario Director Marty Warren writes of the incident involving USW Local 1998 member Austin:
Mark is a Black man, a trade unionist, a father, a community member of Beaches-East York and works at the University of Toronto.
On the morning of June 25, he and his partner Candace Zinkweg were brutally assaulted by two white men, while walking their dog at Dentonia Park, near Victoria Park Avenue and Danforth Avenue.
Mark was violently assaulted and repeatedly subjected to racist abuse. Candace had her cell phone stolen, was knocked to the ground and then kicked in the head by the two men. She lost consciousness, suffered a serious concussion and was transported by ambulance to the hospital when EMS finally arrived.
Despite an early call to 911, the police and EMS were both slow to arrive on the scene. When the police did arrive, none of the four officers sought out a statement from the victim and failed to interview any witnesses at the park, despite a number of families who saw the sequence of events unfold.
When questioned about why they had not laid charges on the assailants, the police responded that it was a “he said, she said” scenario. This in effect, criminalizes Mark and Candace for their own assaults and the racism that Mark endured. Candace was diagnosed with a concussion at the hospital and is still experiencing serious side effects from the blows to the head.
During the attack, the one man repeatedly made death threats against Mark, saying he would shoot him the next time he saw him. Mark has reported this to the police, with still no action being taken.
The assailants live in the same building as Mark and Candace, and they have continued their threats with impunity because the police have taken no action.
The letter demands immediate action to:
Investigate this case and press charges against the assailants.
Recognize the racial profiling that happened in this incident wherein Mark was assumed equally guilty as the attacker.
Develop, with input from community, a robust and public plan for addressing racism within the Toronto Police Service and the prevalence of racism around the city. Efforts to date have fallen far short.
The protest is to be held at 12 noon at 55 division police headquarters, 101 Coxwell Avenue. Organizers are calling for the police to "immediately lay charges on the assailants, and publicly apologize for their shocking inaction in the face of a clear case of violent assault, racist abuse and ongoing threats to this couple."
Organizers are asking for anyone attending "to wear a mask if possible, and to physically distance at the event. Bring water, hand sanitizer and sun protection."
You can get further details on the Facebook event page.
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