Black Lives Matter: Be Part of the Change

When the Black Lives Matter protests swept throughout the world this summer, we saw people from all walks of life coming together to advocate for equity and against police brutality.

Yet, while cries of “defund the police” circulated both locally and internationally, what has City Council done to help abolish police brutality? 

Continue reading to learn what progress toward the Black Lives Matter movement has happened so far, and the work that still needs to be done.

BLM Support in Calgary

After the Black Lives Matter protests held earlier this year, the City of Calgary voted unanimously to pass an anti-racism motion that will ensure officials formally listen, learn and revaluate internal procedures.

The motion included six necessary actions:

  1. Council members had to take and repeat anti-racism training.
  2. The motion asked that the Calgary police report all anti-racism work to city council.
  3. An Anti-Racism Action Committee will be established to develop and implement community strategy.
  4. The City of Calgary will begin revaluating its budget, HR and organizational structure to be more inclusive and to make room for diversity.
  5. The community-based public safety task for was asked to consider any and all issues of systemic racism within its work.
  6. The City of Calgary held a public consultation regarding systemic racism.

The public consultation on systemic racism was also prompted by public outcry. In June, 72,547 Calgarians signed a petition asking the City of Calgary to hold a public consultation on systemic racism. The petition was victorious, as city council held the consultation on July 7.

The public consultation saw more than 100 Calgarians sharing their experiences with racism with city council. On July 20, city council voted to accept three recommendations made during the public consultation to address systemic racism in Calgary:

The first recommendation approved was that City council acknowledged and recognized that systemic racism exists within the Calgary community, government, organization and institutions—including the City of Calgary and the Calgary Police Service.  

The second recommendation approved the scope of the Anti-Racism Action Committee. Its responsibility will be to identify barriers that prevent people from using city programs and services, as well as developing ways to improve those programs. The Action Committee will have its first organizational meeting in October of this year and will include 11 diverse members with expertise in challenging racism.

Lastly, the municipal government also approved $250,000 for an anti-racism capacity-building fund, which will create collaborative, community-based capacity-building initiatives aimed at undoing systemic racism and supporting long-term policy and systems reform in the city.

Changes in the Calgary Police Service

On August 20, 2020, hundreds of people joined a protest to defund the police and support Black trans lives. The rally was organized by Defund YYC and the local Black Lives Matter chapter, and was supported by Idle No More and the Land Black movement.

Earlier this month, Mayor Naheed Nenshi made it clear that discussions regarding cutting police funding will be part of the fall budget evaluation.

Moving forward, the mayor said that—like many other publicly funded programs have experienced in the face of the recession over the last six years—the police can be expected to receive a budget cut as well.

Nenshi noted he’d like to see more funding devoted to a better mental health response system, work that fights institutional racism in the city. He added that perhaps some of that funding could come from the police and that some could come from other places.

Additionally, the Calgary Police Service has developed a 22-page commitment to anti-racism, equity and inclusion. The document outlines:

  • A plan to dismantle systemic racism within the Calgary Police Service.
  • An examination of its programs, policies and practices with an anti-racist and equity lens.
  • An acknowledgement of historical and current wrongs and structural inequities.
  • A challenge to prevent complacency towards racism in Calgary Police Service leadership.
  • Motions to expand the CPS body cam program.
  • Motions to review the school resource officer program.
  • Motions to review use of force policies.
  • A motion to establish a civilian executive director to oversee complaints.

Additionally, the Calgary Police Service said it’s planning to put more focus on its role in reconciliation with indigenous communities, while also continuing to work on its response to calls to action and calls to justice in the Truth and Reconciliation Report and the inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

The Calgary Police Service has also proposed a city-wide engagement process with the Calgary police Commission and city administration on the future of policing and community safety.

Changes Going Forward

The City Council fall budget meetings are typically held in November, and the Anti-Racism Action Committee will be holding its first meeting this October. While there is still a lot of uncertainty as to how changes will be made going forward in both the municipal government and in the CPS, hopefully this fall brings further actionable change towards dismantling the structures of systemic racism in Calgary institutions—as well as in institutions across Canada and the world.

Click the link to discover more about Black Lives Matter’s demands for defunding the police. We also invite you to learn more about Adesso Man’s commitment to supporting BLM and how you can take your advocacy off of social media.

What do you think needs to happen to abolish police brutality and create equity for all? Let us know in the comments below.

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