Friday, January 23, 2015

Against Policing: A First Critical Conversation in Sudbury

[The following is a Media Co-op piece I wrote about about a recent critical community forum on policing held earlier in the week here in Sudbury, Ontario -- the first discussion of this kind to happen here, as far as we know. Read the full article here.]

SUDBURY, ON -- There is a power and intensity that flows from collectively naming violence and harm in new ways, as a prelude to challenging them. It was this sort of intensity that pervaded a critical discussion on policing that took place among twenty local activists in Sudbury this past Wednesday.

There is nothing new in general about this sort of naming and challenging when it comes to policing -- the #BlackLivesMatter organizing that has been sweeping the continent (including some places in Canada) in response to high profile instances of police violence towards Black people is just the newest effort to confront an old, old problem; and those who pay attention to the experiences of homeless people on an ongoing basis have expressed a lack of surprise at the recent findings by Laurentian University researchers about police mistreatment of homeless people in Sudbury. But it is not a conversation that has happened in collective ways in this city.

The forum was not intended as an open debate about policing but rather was a closed event meant to give people with a range of experiences and existing critical understandings of the issue a chance to come together, to talk, and to reduce the isolation that most have felt in Sudbury to this point. Eight attendees made prepared presentations, and all participated in the discussion. The speakers brought forward a mix of lived experience as well as more research-based knowledge about the history and social organization of policing.

A case that has been prominent in the local news in the last fortnight has been the arrest of three anti-poverty activists, now labelled the "S-CAP 3," during their efforts to advocate for a man who had been denied access to emergency shelter space on a bitterly cold northern night despite having no warm place to go. Crystal Kimewon -- an Anishnabe woman, a student, and a mother -- was one of those arrested, and also one of the speakers at the forum.

She talked about how...

Read the rest here.

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