Dudley Laws, a controversial activist in Toronto's black community, has died. He was 76.


Black activist Dudley Laws died Thursday. He was 76. (CBC)

Laws, a major figure in Toronto civil rights, founded Toronto's Black Action Committee and was an outspoken critic of Toronto police.

The Jamaican-born activist immigrated to Canada in 1965 after spending 10 years in the United Kingdom.

A welder and mechanic by trade, Laws worked day jobs while becoming increasingly involved in civil rights organizations. It was a series of shootings of black men by Toronto-area police officers in the 1970s and 1980s that brought Laws to the forefront.

Demanding justice and leading protest marches, he co-founded the Black Action Defence Committee.

But a low point of his life came in 1991 when undercover police arrested Laws outside the immigration consulting business he ran, accusing him of smuggling Illegal aliens into the United States.

He won an appeal and eventually the charges were dropped in exchange for Laws doing community service.

Years later, Laws fought against reforms to the immigration and refugee system while making visits to the halls of parliament.

"I believe that everyone, black and white, Indians and Chinese, all of us have benefited from the work that he has done," said close friend Valerie Steele.

Laws passed away at Humber River Regional Hospital after complications from kidney disease.

Less than a week ago, a party was held for Laws at the Jamaican Canadian Centre in northwest Toronto on Sunday, but he was too sick to attend.

Laws is survived by his wife, Monica, and five children.