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This article was published 4/6/2020 (420 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Several local organizations made up of black people are calling on Winnipeggers to call out racist violence here, as well as across the border.
The African Communities of Manitoba Inc., the Black History Month Celebration Committee, Black Space Winnipeg, the Congress of Black Women of Manitoba and the Caribbean Council Organization of Manitoba called a media conference to discuss police violence against black people across the continent.
"As we continue to see the ongoing oppression and violence that is inflicted on black people internationally, we grow wearier and more restless for honest change in our communities," ACOMI president Titi Tijani said Thursday afternoon.
“If people are not listening by us talking softly, then we’re going to shout." –Nadia Thompson
A peaceful rally has been scheduled Friday to protest the death of George Floyd, who was killed during an arrest on Minneapolis street last week, setting off protests and violent demonstrations across the United States.
Speakers at Thursday's media event also referenced officer-involved deaths in Winnipeg and Toronto as examples of tragedies "fuelled by bigotry, racial profiling and systemic racism."
The groups called for discussion and support to continue beyond Friday's rally.
"It is not brand-new. George Floyd is not the first individual to fall victim," said BHMCC board member Rhonda Thompson. "So we just want to know, are you willing to come on board with us?"
Participants said there needs to be more open channels between black communities and police, and that community groups should be at the table when new policies are drafted at all levels of government.
"We need to be more involved in the decision-making, the policies and procedures, the action plan and how they deal with officers who do not follow the standards and the policies and procedures put forward by the police services," BHMCC chair Nadia Thompson said.
"This also goes beyond the police… we are looking at working with all levels of government to change," Tijani added.
Funding for support services for black people in Manitoba needs to more fully cover the scope of community members’ needs as well, they said.
“We cannot say anything has changed to make things positive, and if it has it’s not moving fast enough, because people are still dying.” –Nadia Thompson
"We can no longer be sustained through the volunteer model. We need to be able to have funding in place, so we are able to have resources in place, so that individuals within our community have a way to get help," Rhonda Thompson said. "We are not looking for handouts, what we are looking for is a hand up."
The level of support needs to move past just one day and just one event, because without institutional changes, tragedies will only continue, Nadia Thompson said.
"If people are not listening by us talking softly, then we’re going to shout; this is 400 years — this is not today, this is not last week (that) we have been going through incidents," she said.
"We cannot say anything has changed to make things positive, and if it has it’s not moving fast enough, because people are still dying."
Malak Abas is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.