Building Community, building resistance: Black Lives Matter-Toronto, an interview with Sandra Hudson

Salmaan Khan

In the past year, Black Lives Matter-Toronto (BLM-TO) has emerged at the forefront of organizing against anti-Black racism in the Toronto Area, adding a new chapter to the history of Black resistance in this city. Started initially by organizing vigils for Black people killed by police in the US and Canada, BLM-TO began to escalate their presence and activism by explicitly addressing anti-Black racism in Toronto and across Canada. In July 2015, BLM-TO shut down the Allen Expressway to call for justice for the deaths of two Black men – Andrew Loku and Jermain Carby – killed by Toronto and Peel police. In March of 2016, BLM-TO set up a “Tent City” outside of Toronto Police Headquarters to protest the dismissal of charges in Andrew Loku’s death and to demand an overhaul of the entire Special Investigations Unit. Errected for two weeks, Tent City was led by Black and Indigenous communities. Most recently in July 2016, BLM-TO marched as the Honourary Group in one of the largest PRIDE parades in the world. During the parade, BLM-TO staged a sit-in with specific demands for PRIDE Toronto including greater funding for Black and community of colour events and spaces, and the elimination of police floats in the parade.

Through direct action, the creation of a three-week “Freedom School” for Black youth, and many other events and vigils, BLM-TO has struggled, and won, each time. They are not only successfully challenging the rhetoric of Canadian multiculturalism and the invisibilization of anti-Black racism: they are changing the conversation itself, gesturing toward Black liberation rather than inclusion. BLM-TO has been one of the most inspiring and radical movements in Toronto in recent years, and we are grateful that Salmaan Khan had the chance to sit down with Sandy Hudson – a founding member of BLM-TO – to discuss the recent surge in organizing against anti-Black racism in Canada as well as globally and, to hear her thoughts on tactics, community organizing, and solidarity work. You can find out more about BLM-TO and keep up to date with their actions and analysis at facebook.com/blacklivesmatterTO.

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