On this week’s episode of Talking Radical Radio, I speak with La Tanya Grant. She is the chair of Justice for Jermaine Carby, a committee that came together in the aftermath of the killing of her cousin by police in Brampton, Ontario, in September of 2014.
Black people have been facing disproportionate violence and death at the hands of the police in North America for a long, long time. For just as long, Black communities have been working to challenge that violence and transform the racist social relations that underlie it. And in 2014, a new wave of struggle against police brutality and racist police violence led by Black youth swept the continent under the banner of Black Lives Matter.
In Canada, in the face of all of this, there is a tendency — particularly among those of us who are white — to tut disapprovingly and shake our heads, and then dismiss it all as a U.S. problem that surely doesn’t happen here. Which is false and ridiculous, of course; it very much does happen here. Black Lives Matter organizing has been happening here — you can check out the relevant Talking Radical Radio episode from December to get a sense of what some of that has been like in the Toronto context — and there is a long, long history of African-Canadians facing violence at the hands of the police.
On September 24, 2014, Jermaine Carby was in a car being driven by a friend in Brampton, Ontario. They were pulled over by officers of the Peel Regional Police. And a few minutes later, Carby was shot and killed by one of the officers moments after getting out of the vehicle. Devastated but well aware of the history, La Tanya Grant very quickly decided that there had to be a committee working to seek justice in the aftermath of the shooting, and she began putting together Justice for Jermaine Carby. Especially since the police and the Special Investigations Unit (or SIU) that is looking into the shooting have so far kept many important details about exactly what happened from the family, she and the rest of the committee have been doing their own investigation. And they have been putting pressure on the SIU and the police both around this case in particular and around the question of racist police violence more generally. Grant talks with me about the tragic events of that night, the work done by the committee, and the ongoing struggle against racist police violence in Canada.
Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada. We give you the chance to hear many different people that are facing many different struggles talk about what they do, why they do it, and how they do it, in the belief that such listening is a crucial step in strengthening all of our efforts to change the world. To learn more about the show in general, visit its website here. You can learn about suggesting topics for future shows here.
Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Sudbury, Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.