Black Lives Matter Toronto co-founder responds to 'cuss/kill' tweet controversy
'The noise surrounding this tweet has...drowned out the discussion we sought to spark'
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."
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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.
This was removed by <a href="https://twitter.com/YusraKhogali">@yusrakhogali</a> from twitter after I tweeted about it. She is co-founder <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/blacklivesmatterTO?src=hash">#blacklivesmatterTO</a> <a href="https://t.co/TksW5kj4oX">pic.twitter.com/TksW5kj4oX</a>—@jerryagar1010
"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.
"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.
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."