Toronto

Black Lives Matter Toronto co-founder responds to 'cuss/kill' tweet controversy

The co-founder of Toronto's Black Lives Matter movement has spoken out about the controversy over a tweet she wrote two months ago praying for the "strength not to cuss/kill these men and white folks."

'The noise surrounding this tweet has...drowned out the discussion we sought to spark'

Yusra Khogali, one of the co-founders of Black Lives Matter Toronto, tweeted about killing men and white people on Feb. 9. 'Faced with hate, I sought restraint from god and support from my online community,' she later wrote in the Star. (CBC)

Yusra Khogali says a tweet she wrote months ago has been used to drown out and "de-legitimize" the accomplishments of the Black Lives Matter movement in Toronto. 

"Somehow a tweet I wrote out of anger months before our protest began has become a bigger media story than our protest's many and profound accomplishments,"  Khogali, co-founder of the Toronto chapter of Black Lives Matter, wrote in a Toronto Star column.

"The noise surrounding this tweet has also drowned out the discussion we sought to spark about the black lives of those who have died at the guns of police in this country."

On Feb. 9, Yusra Khogali tweeted, "Plz Allah give me strength to not cuss/kill these men and white folks out here today. Plz plz plz."

It made national headlines last week when Jerry Agar, a Newstalk1010 pundit and Toronto Sun columnist, found it, printed it out and posted a photo of it online after a two-week protest outside police quarters — dubbed BLMTO Tent City — came to an end amid a face-to-face meeting with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne

"A day after the conclusion of #BLMTOtentcity, he cited the aforementioned tweet in an attempt to delegitimize an entire movement, and to position my community as undeserving of justice," wrote Khogali, who has since deleted the tweet.

Andrew Loku, 45, was shot by police in July after he refused to drop a hammer he was carrying. (Handout photo)

"I am not a public official. I am not a police officer. The state does not entrust me with violent weaponry. I have never contributed to the mass targeting of a community. All I have done is used a turn of phrase, a rhetorical flourish, to voice my frustration and dared to be a person calling for justice."

She says she has received death threats from white supremacists over the tweet and has been hounded by journalists for comment.

The Toronto chapter of Black Lives Matter staged several high-profile protests after Toronto police officers shot and killed Andrew Loku, a black father of five who defied police orders to drop a hammer.

On April 8, the group met with Wynne after dozens of demonstrators walked from police headquarters to Queen's Park calling for changes at the Special Investigations Unit, the province's police watchdog, which has said it will not name or press charges against the officer who killed Loku

Khogali was one of the people from the group that Premier Kathleen Wynne spoke to when the premier greeted protesters at Queen's Park and promised to review the SIU. (CBC)

The 15-day protest also prompted Toronto city council to unanimously pass a motion that asks the province to review the SIU and police services in Toronto through an "anti-black racism lens."

Yet, none of that garnered  as much attention as the controversial tweet, Khogali said. 

"The media is part and parcel of how anti-black racism works. Too often black people are ignored or vilified when we speak the truth about our condition."

Black Lives Matter camped outside of police headquarters in Toronto for 15 days. (CBC)