Thursday, October 13, 2005


The idea that making it easy for law-abiding citizens to arm themselves might help does not appear to have occurred to anybody. Criminals like to shoot but they sure don't like the idea of being shot

Decades after the civil rights movement fought for racial integration, a Toronto coalition of 22 black community groups disgusted by gun murders in the city wants a separate set of rules and institutions for blacks - from a government department to a diversion program for minor crimes. The ambitious demands are, black leaders say, a turning point.

Fifteen years ago, you would not have seen so many in the black community "so frustrated that they are willing to consider this a positive - this formation of separateness," said Zanana Akande, a former principal and an Ontario cabinet minister in Bob Rae's New Democratic Party government. "But blacks have now reached the point of such disgust, such frustration, such a feeling of rejection around these issues, that well-trained, well-qualified, capable people have given up and said, `You know what? Maybe we should have our own,'" said Akande, past-president of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations, which is not a member of the coalition. "The more unhappy people are with the systems that are in place, the more acquiescent they are to some special services. And people shouldn't feel good about that," she said. "We're not calling it segregation," said Sandra Carnegie-Douglas, president of the Jamaican Canadian Association and a coalition spokeswoman. "We know what we need. We live it. We attend the funerals. We deal with the dropouts and the children expelled from school. As it stands now, our communities are, in many ways, being destroyed."

Gun deaths have ravaged Toronto's black community more than ever this summer. Out of more than 60 homicides this year, a record 41 have involved a firearm. Black community leaders say "90 per cent" have involved blacks. The Coalition of African Canadian Organizations was spawned in August as a response to the bloodshed. It now represents a wide swath of the black community, which it believes is one of the most underserviced, underemployed, poverty-stricken and encumbered by racism.

Among the more far-reaching solutions proposed is a new provincial ministry office on African-Canadian affairs, created to help black Ontarians get access to services that alleviate poverty, help keep youth in school and allow them to thrive culturally. The coalition is also calling for:

A court diversion program for blacks who commit minor offences.

An economic development agency for blacks.

A skills training and employment access program focused on blacks.

Police to keep race-based statistics.

Repeal of the zero-tolerance school discipline policy, which the Ontario Human Rights Commission is investigating for accusations that it deals more harshly with blacks....

The coalition also supports calls for a black-focused school and envisions a vibrant African-Canadian cultural centre.

The focus of these proposals on a single group makes them highly controversial. Some of the ideas - such as a diversion program and a black-focused school - were broached more than a decade ago but vilified as segregationist. Last month, Premier Dalton McGuinty said he was "not comfortable" with the concept of a black-focused school. That rationale now infuriates these community leaders.....

Coalition members say it's time the black community took ownership of the problem, framing the debate and devising plans to lead, organize and monitor the progress of changes. "Our role will be to take on one of the defined solutions that need to be put to work and lead it. We all have to take a little chunk of it," said George Fynn, an account executive and president of the African Canadian Social Development Council. The coalition's manifesto is an "action plan" it hopes will form the basis of a summit with government leaders.

Members want race-based statistics kept for policing, employment and education, so a clear picture of the state of the community might emerge. And they want funding restored that was cut from social service programs, especially for at-risk youth.....

As to the charge that the proposals are segregationist, "I think that response comes from two types of people: an individual who doesn't understand the challenges the community faces, which are much more significant than those faced by other communities; and the individual who would not wish to see the community uplifted," Graham said.....

Not everyone in the coalition is entirely in agreement. Fynn, for instance, would like to see more effort to repair fractured relations with the police. Donkoh feels a black-focused school might not prepare students to live in wider society. Staff Sgt. Chris Bullen, head of the Association of Black Law Enforcers, a coalition member, said he's not sure about a separate black-offender diversion program. He favours making the current one more equitable. "If you look at a person who is going to make decisions about whether you got to a diversion program or not, they have to look like you. It helps," he said. But they all agree on the need for swift action. As Louis March put it: "I don't want to next year be talking about 100 shootings."

More here

And here is what happens when blacks DO run their own show. A report from Jamaica:

POLICE Commissioner Lucius Thomas who has been in the Jamaica Constabulary for 36 years, mostly in intelligence at Special Branch, often had one-on-one meetings with his predecessor, and so understood what the top job was all about..... I have also been travelling across the island visiting police stations to see the conditions under which police personnel work and live and operate. We are getting there.

Resources is a critical area for us. We pick up over 600 guns off the streets on a daily basis; 90 per cent of them are not analysed, so we have difficulty tracing them to determine whether it is so many guns being used in crime or the same guns being recycled. Also, we want the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), for fingerprint identification.

We picked up 74 persons in Tivoli Gardens on Tuesday and we held them for several hours. With the quick processing the AFIS system offers, we could run the fingerprints in a minute or two and determine, 'We don't want this man', and release him. Our communication system seems to be again running down, but I understand that government has a move afoot to adjust that."

If they pick up 600 guns a day, how many more must there be that the police DON'T pick up? What successful gun-control! (NOT)

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