We Keep Each Other Safe – An Online Forum – June 20th

Updated with video of the event! This online meeting will discuss creating a community-led alternative to policing in Toronto. The forum will be publicly live-streamed & participants who register in advance can give statements.

Read the full call to action: https://tinyurl.com/communityforumTO
Logistics to the forum: https://preview.tinyurl.com/logisticscommunityforum
Register to give a statement at the forum here: https://forms.gle/KbUL9YQMQ2bXZPiPA
Download a poster/flyer to put up in your neighbourhood: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1A7KaH_QWFwwf6T9AGHuy-hbTnsFdrWHH?usp=sharing.
Contribute to the discussion online with #WeKeepEachOtherSafeTO

Recent murders of Black and Indigenous people have left so many of us in a state of mourning and rage. Many of us are looking for ways to protect and support one another beyond this moment. The last few weeks are fueling and giving urgency to the longstanding call to defund and abolish police who receive $1.076 billion in funding representing approximately 12% of Toronto’s budget. These conversations have led to countless discussions between friends and family about the need for a community-led alternative to policing. While these discussions are not new, we can use this moment to move forward and build an abolitionist movement that protects us all. No one should be in a position where they are forced to call the police to protect their loved ones.

This call to action is for an online community forum (i.e. community meeting) to discuss creating a community-led alternative to policing in Toronto/Tkaronto. This forum is open for all members of the community to watch the discussion unfold. Still, the forum will limit participants in the conversation to folks that sign-up and have been reviewed. This process accounts for potential supporters of the police and other racist trolls.

This forum is for those living in Tkaronto (Greater Toronto Area) which is Mohawk for where the trees grow in the water. This land is the traditional territories of the Mississauga’s of the New Credit, the Haudenosaunee, and the Anishinabe on Treaty 13 lands which are also subject to the Dish With One Spoon Treaty.

IMAGINING A COMMUNITY-LED ALTERNATIVE TO POLICING

A community-led alternative to police would serve as a strategy to limit the influence and power of police in our community without relying on politicians to do what is right. This alternative is based on anti-racist, decolonial, gendered, and intersectional approaches. Leaders throughout history, most notably the Black Panther Party, have organized alternatives, like what we envision in this call to action. Today we see impactful examples like the Bear Clan Patrol (see a link to their website below) serving communities in Winnipeg.

In this pandemic, communities across Tkaronto have responded to create massive mutual aid projects that are feeding, housing and resourcing one another without the support of the government. We are already proving that we can take care of each other.

An alternative to policing would require volunteers and participants to receive adequate training. These pieces of training can include, but not be limited to, mental health first aid, first aid, crisis intervention, non-violent communication, suicide intervention, naloxone training, police observing and sexual violence disclosure and support. We can use online platforms to host facilitated conversations with volunteers interested in participating in the discussion and partner with trusted organizations to develop and deliver training.

WHAT WILL WE DISCUSS AT THE FORUM

• What would a community-led alternative to policing need to include to be effective and accountable?
• How can we centre disability justice and the principles of universal access in this community-led alternative?
• What do we need to consider when we are engaging volunteers and participants that would serve as respondents to calls for support? What kind of training should we provide to volunteers? What trusted community organizations can support this training?
• How can we prioritize the safety and wellbeing of people participating in this community-led alternative?
• What do we need to consider when bringing together a group of people responsible for creating this alternative to policing? Who needs to be reflected in the group of people working on creating this alternative?
• How should this group of people make decisions and engage the public?
• How do we make sure this alternative is sustainable?

If you have additional questions for consideration, please include them at the end of the registration form.

WHO SHOULD SIGN-UP TO PARTICIPATE IN THE FORUM

You should sign up to participate in the forum if you want to respond to the questions listed above.

We must be prioritizing the voices of people that are usually targeted by police and state violence and oppression. These voices include, but are not limited to, people who are affected by racism, colonialism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, poverty, experience homelessness, and people who use drugs. We ensure that no one is left behind when we make decisions considering those of us that are most at risk of violence. We ask that people in positions of power and privilege consider amplifying and supporting the voices of communities that need this support.

We must create space for a diversity of experiences. This forum values all levels of experience and expertise. This forum will prioritize regional representation focusing on over-policed and surveilled neighbourhoods, often referred to as “at-risk” neighbourhoods.

Everyone that signs-up to participate in the forum will receive a response explaining whether or not you will be able to join. If we deny your registration, we will attempt to offer some explanation.

HOW TO JOIN THE FORUM

Complete the registration form linked below. We will send invitations to the forum by email once we have had an opportunity to go through the list of registrants. You will be able to join the discussion using your computer or by dialling in. If you require anonymity during the forum, you can select that option on the registration form.

We will be live-streaming the discussion on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter folks to watch and participate.

HOW THE FORUM WILL BE ORGANIZED

People who register will be scheduled to share their thoughts on the questions listed above. Each participant will be given between five (5) to eight (8) minutes to share their thoughts.

There will be four panels of eight people each that represent the voices and experiences we are attempting to prioritize. Each panel will last approximately fifty (50) minutes. These panels will listen to the participants who are sharing their thoughts and provide feedback and help guide the conversations.

We will publish the list of panellists on June 14 along with their scheduled block for the forum.

A NOTE ON ACCESSIBILITY

It is imperative that we are centring disability justice in this work. At the moment, we are working on making the following considerations:

American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and closed captioning will be made available
For folks without access to computers or the internet, we are looking to provide resources and support to ensure participation

If we require additional accommodations to ensure your participation, please indicate those needs on our sign-up form linked at the end of this document.

HOW INDIVIDUALS AND ORGANIZATIONS WITH CAPACITY CAN SUPPORT

To ensure that people can participate in this forum, we will need your support:

Please identify the needs of people in your community to be able to participate in this discussion and let us know how we can ensure participation from members of your community.
You can provide access to computers and the internet for people without access.
You can support simultaneous translation solutions for the forum and any materials that follow.
We require funding to pay for ASL interpreters and third-party captioning.
Publicly endorse the forum from your organization.

If you can provide any of these supports, please complete this form.

Contributions and support form: https://forms.gle/HCDdaa7igp6GffMi7

WHAT WILL FOLLOW THIS FORUM

We will share a recording and transcription from the forum online. The recording will be accompanied by an action plan and an announcement of the working groups that will be tasked with moving forward to create this alternative.

PARTICIPATE IN THE CONVERSATION ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Follow the discussion on social media using #WeKeepEachOtherSafe leading up to and during the forum. Feel free to respond to the questions posted above or share resources for people in your community to help imagine a world without police.

REGISTER FOR THE FORUM HERE

Please use this form to sign-up for the forum. We will be closing the registration on June 14.

Registration Form: https://forms.gle/Q3vZrWbsugA2DxxWA

ABOUT THE ORGANIZERS

This call to action was released by the Toronto Prisoners Rights Project. We are a group of activists, frontline workers, and family members who are organizing campaigns and mobilizing support for prisoners. We are committed to prison abolition as a long-term vision for our prisoner justice work.