Black Lives Matter not invited to roundtable organized by Mayor John Tory

An organizer of Black Lives Matter says the group is optimistic that some good will come out of a preliminary roundtable organized by Mayor John Tory on Saturday on "racial equity" even though the group has not been invited.

Organizer accuses John Tory of attempting to divide black community

Sandy Hudson said Tory's announcement was confusing because her group has been calling for a public meeting on anti-black racism within policing but the focus of the mayor's roundtable is on many issues, such as social development, youth engagement, poverty reduction and policing. (CBC)

An organizer of Black Lives Matter says the group is optimistic that some good will come out of a preliminary roundtable organized by Mayor John Tory on Saturday on "racial equity" even though the group has not been invited.

"I am optimistic," Sandy Hudson, co-founder of the Toronto chapter of Black Lives Matter, told Metro Morning on Thursday.

Hudson said the announcement was also confusing because the group has been calling for a public meeting on anti-black racism within policing but the focus of the mayor's roundtable is on many issues, such as social development, youth engagement, poverty reduction and policing.

She said the group is not surprised it was not invited. Tory has said he is meeting with leaders in the black community.

"It wasn't unexpected. I don't expect that much more from him at this point given how the last year has went. Several people who are going to the meeting have contacted us for direction," she said.

"It says to me, we got a problem with our mayor and the people leading this city."

Hudson said she thinks the group was not invited to the roundtable because it has made it clear how it believes Tory has not served Toronto's black community. 

"He wants to pin us as unreasonable in some way. I don't think anything we have done is unreasonable. There's been death in our community and that deserves a response," she said.

"I think Mayor Tory's attempt to divide and conquer the black community around this is quite frankly disgusting."

But she said the roundtable is a good thing.

"I do think there will be some good coming out of there."

Tory told reporters Thursday that he offered repeatedly to meet privately with members of Black Lives Matter but the offer was rejected. 

He said Saturday's roundtable will involve a number of leaders from the black community.

"We want to consult a broad number of people because these are very complicated issues that affect a large number of people as to how we can eradicate racism where it exists and allow people to have better opportunities to move forward," he said after meeting Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne at Queen's Park. 

Tory said in a statement Wednesday that he's organized the preliminary roundtable before he convenes an open public meeting on equity issues and Black Lives Matter will be included in that meeting.

The roundtable "will include a range of voices to help provide some of the necessary perspective and direction for this complex and on-going process," Tory said.

At the open public meeting, the date of which has not been determined, Tory said "individuals and groups including Black Lives Matter will have an opportunity to share their concerns, their frustrations and their ideas."

Province plans 4 meetings on policing

"Toronto is a proudly diverse city, but we still struggle with issues of racial equity, discrimination and trust. These challenges have been called out by many important voices, including the recent actions of the group Black Lives Matter," Tory said.

"As mayor, I know that leading a diverse city comes with special responsibilities, and I take those issues seriously. I am committed to engaging with this group and all those working toward meaningful change."

According to Black Lives Matter, the Ontario government has committed to holding four two-hour long public meetings on anti-black racism in policing in Toronto. These meetings will focus on, among other things, the Special Investigations Unit, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, carding, and Toronto police.

The province also announced a coroner's inquest into the homicide of Andrew Loku. 

Wynne said Thursday she would like the information in the SIU report on Loku to be made public but the province has to consider privacy concerns before doing so.

"I want the information in the SIU report to be in the public realm. It's not a matter of whether, it's a matter of how we do that," she told reporters.

Loku, 45, was fatally shot by a Toronto police officer last July when he refused to drop a hammer. The SIU said the officer responsible acted reasonably and no charges were laid. 

Black Lives Matter camped outside of Toronto police headquarters for 15 days to press its demands.