Hundreds gather in Victoria Park as part of national Defund the Police rallies
Published Saturday, August 29, 2020 6:21PM EDT
LONDON, ONT. -- More than 300 people gathered in Victoria park on Saturday for a nationwide protest demanding the defunding of police agencies across Canada.
Keira Roberts, co-founder of Black Lives Matter London (BLM) says the group will continue to push the conversation to defund the police.
“The funds that are going into the police can be redirected into so many different things like housing, education, just investing into our community, that is what is important,” says Roberts.
On Wednesday, the Coalition for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) Liberation announced a nationwide day of protest slated for Saturday in London, Toronto, Montreal, Fredericton, Moncton and Halifax.
Organizers are asking governments at all three levels to reallocate funds for police toward community initiatives with the goal of ending systemic racism.
“We are not putting money into programs that are saving people, we are putting money into programs that are killing people,” says participant Hassan Abdirahman.
BLM organizers say reallocated funds could be invested into mental health services, safer traffic responses and establishing civilian conflict resolution services to replace policing of smaller infractions.
Head of the London Police Association told CTV news a day ahead of the protest that cutting the police budget would do more harm than good
“Were not suggesting people don’t go to the rally, we're not suggesting people don’t educate themselves, quite the contrary, we want people to be educated and that’s part of putting our position out so they have all the information,” says Robson.
In June, Robson said defunding the police service and allocating funds is a complex process.
“The suggestion you can simply take money from the police and that somehow that can be handed off to another agency that will somehow negate the need for police is unproven and frankly dangerous,” said Robson.
Organizers of BLM and participants say they will continue to hold protests until they see government action.
“We need to be here, we need to show our voice. At the end of the day this does happen here (Canada) too, we have to be proactive in preventing it..if we can keep that going we will be a better nation for it,” says participant Ras Cottreezy.