East Toronto Community Calls for Unity Against Hate

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Toronto 29 Aug 2020 /pressreleases.live.

In response to a hate crime that took place in Dentonia Park, several community organizations, unions and faith communities will hold a Community Art Rally on Saturday, August 29, to reclaim Dentonia Park and speak out against hate.

Participants are encouraged to bring pre-made art or signs to the event, as well as their own mask. Art supplies and chalk will be available on site. Art making and other activities will adhere to distancing requirements.

On June 25, 2020 local residents Candace Zinkweg and Mark Austin were victims of a brutal racist assault as they walked their dog. The police were slow to arrive on the scene, and did not seek out a statement from the victims. When questioned about why they had not laid charges on the assailants, the police said “it’s he said, she said.” This, despite one of the victims having been taken away on a stretcher after the assault.

Mark Austin, an officer with a Toronto Steelworker local, stated that when police arrived on the scene of the assault, “they blew me off, they blew off my partner. She leaves to go to the hospital and they don’t even ask for her name.”

“The police in this city have to take seriously a complaint by a Black man and his partner that he has been subject to racist abuse,” said Carolyn Egan, President of the Steelworkers Toronto Area Council.

Although the police eventually arrested two of three assailants weeks afterwards, this would not have happened without the pressure that was quickly brought to bear by community, and the courage that Mark and Candace showed in speaking out and fighting back against this injustice.

“When it happened, Mark was racially profiled, to the extent that originally there was little-to-no investigation and Mark was assumed to be equally guilty as the assailants.

“This is part of a bigger issue. Our union is pushing for larger structural changes that would help address racism within policing and in our communities more generally,” said Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers (USW) National Director.

Around the world, people are rising up against systemic racism and a growing climate of racist brutality. The Community Art Rally and Call for Justice aims to involve local community to make art that speaks out against hate and to show support for survivors of racist violence.

Dentonia Park is located in Dish With One Spoon Treaty territory, and is in one of the most diverse neighbourhoods in the city. Crescent Town features people from around the world, with significant numbers of Bengali, Urdu, Cantonese, Amharic, Tagalog, Nepali, Tamil, Mandarin, Telugu and Farsi speakers.

The event is sponsored by: Toronto East Anti-hate Mobilization, Old’s Cool General Store, Bangladeshi Community Services, Bangladeshi Centre and Community Services, #Beachers for Black Lives, United Steelworkers, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU), The Neighbourhood Group, South Asian Women’s Rights Organization, Danforth Jewish Circle

Contacts

Carolyn Egan, USW activist, 416-806-7985