Racist political opportunism used surrounding July Scarborough shootings
Friday, August 3, 20121 Comment
Rob Ford, Mayor of Toronto. Courtesy.
By MaryCarl Guiao
On Monday the 16th of July is when a backyard party on Danzig Street in Scarborough, Ontario got out of hand. The incident resulted in at least two deaths and over 20 being injured - including a 22 month old child.
The two young individuals who died in the incident were 14-year-old Shyanne Charles and 23-year-old Joshua Yasay, but investigators believe they were not the intended victims.
But despite the horrors witnessed by local communities and their desire to return to normal, Canadian politicians are using the events as a platform to spew anti-immigrant comments and hatred.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford in particular jumped into the spotlight shortly after the news broke and said, “I don’t care if you’re an immigrant or not, if you get caught with a gun, I want to find out the legalities of are you allowed to stay here or are you not… I’m sure it falls under some sort of immigration law.”
Before any charges or arrests had been made, the focus of political commentary was on the role immigrants played in this unfortunate scene. Such events are seen by politicians like Ford as an opportunity to promote anti-immigrant laws and rhetoric.
Through media interviews and legislation like bill C-43, the government is trying hard to associate gun violence with immigration and address the issue by physically removing from the country those they suspect to be involved, most especially if they are immigrants.
The contributions made at the community level by social and support groups foster increased chances to dispute resolution, better understanding of the others position, and a more regenerative healing process.
Discussions of police brutality or support for groups that have been targeted by police are a sure ticket to be removed from the TAVIS funding block. This silencing of genuine community concerns may be one reason why such programs have failed to produce measurable results.
It is the root causes like widespread poverty, racism, a largely irrelevant education system, misdiagnosed or undiagnosed mental health, and a grave lack of social services within our communities that needs to be addressed by our political leaders instead of strengthening the pipeline from streets to prison that Ford and others are fond of.
Toronto-based Filipino and Latino grassroots community organizations, MIGRANTE Canada and Barrio Nuevo, respectively, came together in the days following the Danzig shootings so they could prepare this joint statement: “We also need to start asking where these guns are coming from, who is bringing them into this City and why. These youth are not making or smuggling guns, so we need to acknowledge that there are bigger things at play and target the real players in this morbid game.”
For people like Prime Minister Stephen Harper, "Minister of Censorship and Deportation" Jason Kenney, and Ford, it is easier to point the finger of blame on young people from marginalized people of colour and immigrant communities instead of looking more closely at biker gangs or larger elements within organized crime that actually import these guns into the country.
The July 16th bloodshed is what made the news, but arguably the bigger criminals are the ones who profited from the event and continue to evade both charges and public scrutiny.
The real disservice to our communities is when our elected leaders make opportunistic statements that both distract from and ignore the more severe problems like the heavy crime of gun running, and propagate the off-loading of blame on disempowered and disengaged communities and voices.