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Sociology Solidarity Statement

Sociology Solidarity Statement


As the Department of Sociology, we stand in solidarity with all Black, Indigenous and racialized communities across North America who are protesting in response to police brutality and racial state violence. The brutal killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and others have caused tremendous pain, grief and public outrage among many communities in a situation in which everyday policing and surveillance practices, and the increased militarization of policing, violate the humanity of Black, Indigenous and people of colour. These events occur against the backdrop of a global pandemic which has further exacerbated and exposed the systematic discrimination and injustices causing hurt among socially marginalized communities that have been hit hardest by the defunding of public health care, social security and public education.

Canada has a long history of racial state violence targeting Black, Indigenous and racialized communities. Police use of deadly force in Canada is documented even in the absence of a national accounting of racialized police violence. As the Washington Post reports, there is now a long list of fatal shootings by the police in the United States that disproportionally affects Black lives. It not only represents the failure of thorough police oversight, but also the failure of a justice system that in many ways remains biased and rooted in white supremacist thought. As sociologists we are deeply concerned with these developments and call upon our colleagues and students to demand justice for Mr. George Floyd and all families who have lost loved ones to racist police violence in Canada.  Along with many scholars, artists, activists and others, we denounce the ongoing onslaught of violence against peaceful protesters and the political discourse that labels protesters in derogatory terms or even as domestic terrorists.

To paraphrase from a recent statement by the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI), “Canada is not immune” against racial state violence. Just last week, Regis Korchiniski-Paquet fell to her death from a balcony while police were in her apartment. According to a CBC investigation, Black people made up 36.5 per cent of fatalities involving Toronto police, despite accounting for just 8.3 per cent of the city's population, in the period from 2000-17. Like many others, Andrew Loku, Abdirahman Abdi, D’Andre Campbell, Jermaine Carby were killed in encounters with the police. As OCASI puts it, “Black people are twenty times more likely to be killed or injured by police in Toronto. In Montreal Black and Indigenous people are four to five times more likely to be stopped and carded by local police. Anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous racism is the foundation of policing in North America and the systems and institutions and policies that govern our lives continue to promote white supremacism five hundred years into settler-colonialism and the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.”

As a department whose work is informed by critical social and historical analysis, public sociology, anti-racist, anti-colonial scholarship and activism, we condemn the ongoing criminalization of Black people. We call on our students, faculty, and administration at the university to take a stand against anti-Black racism.

Joint Statement by the Sociology Undergraduate and Graduate Program, York University, Toronto; June 3, 2020