Despite sweltering heat, the final of eight consecutive days of Winnipeg protests drew a large crowd demanding justice for victims of police brutality.
The event organized by Justice 4 Black Lives was held outside the downtown Winnipeg Police Service headquarters Monday afternoon. It was dedicated to five people of colour shot and killed by city police, and two who died while in custody: Machuar Madut, Jason Collins, Eishia Hudson, Stewart Kevin Andrews, Randy Cochrane, Sean Thompson and Chad Williams.
Photos of the seven were held up as people chanted. The images were then taped to the headquarters’ windows, facing inwards.
"When we say, ‘No justice, no peace,’ we really mean it, because there can be no peace until there’s justice for the people who were wrongfully targeted and killed by the Winnipeg police and the RCMP," organizer Diana Ayodele said in a speech to the crowd of around 100.
"There’ll be no peace until there are significant decreases in police funding and police brutality."
While there was no visible police presence, several chants called out the officers in the building, including "We will not forget," followed by: "You’re guilty."
Organizers chose to stay past the hour-long scheduled time and led the group in chants, songs and a moment of silence.
It marked the second time in eight days a demonstration was also held outside the downtown centre.
On Monday afternoon, the WPS tweeted fingerprinting, in-person reporting services and criminal record checks would be closed for the day. A spokeswoman told the Free Press via email the decision to close was due to social-distancing concerns and "limited space to get in and out."
Prolonged close contact in outdoor groups larger than 100 is still not allowed under Phase 3 of the province’s novel coronavirus pandemic reopening strategy.
On June 5, some 15,000 people congregated in the city to protest the death of a Black American man, George Floyd, at the hands of Minnesota police. There are no cases of COVID-19 in the province reported to be correlated to the June 5 rally.
The family of Eishia Hudson was in attendance Monday.
Eishia, 16, was shot and killed by city police April 9, after an alleged liquor store robbery. At one point, protesters chanted her name.
While none of Hudson’s family spoke at the rally, at times, they stood behind speakers.
Her father, William Hudson, said he was there to "support the cause." The protest was an emotional experience for him, but he hopes what comes next is "change in the way Indigenous, Black people are treated."
"We’ve got to be heard, that’s why we gather like this," he said. "We just have to support each other, and be there for each other, in tough times like this."
Eishia’s brother, 14-year-old Dominick, lost both his sister and his uncle, Jason Collins, also shot by Winnipeg police, in the span of 24 hours. The teen echoed Hudson’s call for systemic change.
"Change and justice for everyone’s lives, Black lives and Indigenous lives," he said.
Malak Abas is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.
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