By Victoria Shariati
On Friday, members of the Black Lives Matter-Toronto Coalition (BLM-TO) and Ryerson students marched in protest of the Ontario Special Investigation Unit’s decision to not charge the Toronto police officer who fatally shot Andrew Loku.
The march, which was organized by members of various Ryerson student groups in collaboration with BLM-TO, started on Gould Street and made its way to Toronto police’s College Street headquarters. BLM-TO have been camped outside police headquarters for over 300 hours.
Dahab Ibrahim, a third-year social work student and member of the Ryerson
East African Students’ Association (REASA), said the protest was arranged to show more of Ryerson students’ support for BLM-TO. She said she’s hoping the march will connect more students with the movement.
“It’s hard to see people staying there day in and day out,” Ibrahim said. “It’s not hard to walk over there and support them. We can do this.”
Tamara Jones, incoming vp equity for the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU), said she’s been following the movement since the events in Ferguson in 2014. Jones said the turn-out of Ryerson students for the march and their involvement with BLM-TO is “amazing.”
“Racism isn’t just an American thing. It’s in Canadian culture,” she said. “But
Ryerson students have spearheaded all of this and they’ve been doing a great job.”
Susanna Nyaga, incoming president of United Black Students at Ryerson (UBSR), said she wants to see the school’s administration release a statement of solidarity with BLM. She said she’s seen instances of anti-black racism on campus, citing the firing of Gilary Massa and a lack of black faculty members.
“In some classrooms, there are professors and students who perpetuate anti-black racism. It works on multiple levels,” Nyaga said.
She said the university should address racism within the institution and work towards making the campus a safer space. The third-year social work student also said students and faculty alike should understand the intersections of identity that lead to the marginalization of certain groups.
“It’s hard enough being a student,” she said. “I don’t want to have to go into a classroom and worry about feeling attacked as a person.”
For Ahmed Yousif, a fifth-year business management student, attending the BLM
protest is a matter of empowering other people to support the movement.
Yousif said that despite Ryerson’s close proximity to Toronto police headquarters, he’s seen a “hands-off” approach from the university. He said it’s important for students to support BLM by donating supplies so that the protest can continue.