In 2020, we saw the brutal slaying of George Floyd over a counterfeit $20. A Black man’s life was cut short due to $20, in the moments where he cried out for his mother and told his murderer he couldn’t breathe as a camera rolled, video taping his last moments, it made it clear Black life just was not worth it. Today’s verdict in Minnesota is not justice but a reckoning that we as a society need to hold police accountable for their actions and that we must condemn police brutality in all means.
As Canadians and Jews, we insult our traditions by pointing our finger at the United States and condemning their sickness of police brutality, when we suffer from the same disease. Black and Indigenous people in Canada face exactly the same issues with police like our counterparts in the states. However, while American Jews and American Jewish institutions mostly have made great strides in fighting against police brutality against racialized people, Canadian counterparts have mostly been silent.
JOC Canada is an organisation run by Jews of Colour. We have dealt with racism and microaggressions within the Jewish and non-Jewish Canadian society. We have also dealt with the death cult that is police brutality like so many other Canadian POC who have had negative interactions with police across this country.
We struggle and fight for our Canadian Jewish organizations to be diverse and have Jews of Colour represented. However, why are they silent in most cases of police brutality not just in the United States but here? There was silence when Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year-old Afro-Indigenous Toronto woman, fell to her death from her balcony after the police entered her balcony.
There was silence when D’Andre Campbell, 26, an Afrikan man, was shot and killed in Brampton, Ontario in his home. After he called police for help due to his mental health issues.
There was dead silence when Sean Thompson, 30, of Little Saskatchewan First Nation and Pinaymootang First Nation, died in the custody of unnamed Winnipeg police officers. His family stated they saw many injuries on his body after finally being able to see his body.
Releasing statements condemning anti-Black racism when the societal moral compass has swung towards speaking out is not an excellent ally. The wider Jewish community of this country must look deep and asking themselves whether silence or near silence is the best outcome for police brutality and accountability within this country, not just the United States.
At JOC Canada we mourn the fact that while George Floyd got his own justice of seeing his killer convicted, ultimately he had no justice as he is dead.
Like many persons of colour in Canada where police are hardly ever even tried and convicted.
We as a Jewish community must do better and demand change rather than point to the United States.