Police Association calls on premier for clarification on Black Lives Matter comments
'I do take exception to the notion that we are systemically racist,' says president of association
The president of the Toronto Police Association says Premier Kathleen Wynne needs to clarify comments she made Monday when she met with protesters from the Black Lives Matter group.
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The premier told the protesters that there is "systemic racism in our society" on Monday, and agreed to hold private and public meetings with the group about their demands, which includes a review of the Special Investigations Unit, Ontario's independent civilian law enforcement agency.
The SIU investigates when police are involved with a death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.
Mike McCormack says that although Wynne did not specifically mention the Toronto Police in her comments, he said people can draw the conclusion that she may have been talking about the police due to the fact that her comments were given at a Black Lives Matter protest which was sparked by their concerns around the Toronto police.
"When she was asked after, why did she go and talk to Black Lives Matter ... her comment was around the fact that police violence and racism is a very important issue," said the Toronto Police Association president.
"So how can somebody not draw the nexus and not draw that conclusion?" asked McCormack.
He said his association has never claimed that all police officers are "angelic" or that none of them are racist.
"But I do take exception to the notion that we are systemically racist," he said.
Comments 'misinterpreted,' says Wynne
Wynne said McCormack "misinterpreted" what she said.
"I hope that he looks back at what I said and my hope would be that he would, like I do, recognize that there are challenges across society," Wynne said Wednesday morning. "I'm not saying anything about the particular police service in Toronto or anywhere else. I am saying that across society we have to recognize that there are challenges that we have in terms of racism."
Wynne said there is a need to recognize racism in society in the same way the province has recognized the reality of homophobia and sexual assault, and pointed to the creation of the province's sex assault action plan as an example of this recognition.
The Black Lives Matter protesters have been camped outside of police headquarters for nearly two weeks and also recently moved to Queen's Park.
The protest started after the SIU cleared several police officers of any wrongdoing in the death of Andrew Loku, a black man shot and killed last summer after he refused an order from officers to drop a hammer.