'Defund the police' rally attracts hundreds outside London City Hall
Published Saturday, June 20, 2020 10:52AM EDT Last Updated Saturday, June 20, 2020 6:34PM EDT
LONDON, ONT. -- Hundreds of residents rallied at London's City Hall Saturday afternoon, demanding police reform in light of recent high-profile killings of Black people.
The peaceful protest focused on the objective to "defund the police," or reallocate money for police toward social services, mental health, housing and addiction treatment.
“We need to allocate those funds into social justice programs, mental health programs, education,” said Alexandra Kane, spokesperson for Black Lives Matter London.
“Take that money and put it back into the infrastructure to help Black and Indigenous people.”
London police Chief Steve Williams told CTV News earlier this week that he agrees more needs to be done.
“We're taking these issues, these conversations very seriously and they're a priority for the administration of this police service, “ Williams said.
“We recognize there are problems in policing, cultural policing bias in policing, there's police brutality, there are people who feel discriminated against - action is required and we are fully committed.”
Approximately 800 people marched around Victoria park two weeks after the last Black Lives Matter rally in London on June 6, where 10,000 people packed the park, calling for the end of police brutality and systemic racism that permeates law enforcement across the world.
Most people wore masks, tried to practice physical distancing and carried sanitization bottles in hand.
Douglas Kisitu, a protestor who walked today said that anti-racism needs to be taught at home first.
“Parents should teach their kids back home that skin colour is not about, this is black, this is white, this is yellow, we are all the same.”
One of the five young-women who organized the events, Kiera Roberts, is focused on creating concrete changes.
“We have a a lot of demands and we have seen their (police and officials) statements but we need action. We have heard their words but we need to see the changes, that is why we are here today,” said Roberts.
Earlier this week, London Police Services Board Chair Dr. Javeed Sukhera urged the board and administration to take immediate action.
“Wherever possible we should be mindful of the requests from the Black community regarding their concerns about safety and police presence in the community, “ said Sukhera. “Whenever possible we should support improved interactions, partnerships between London police and vulnerable members of our community.”