Urban Alliance on Race Relations calls for an Immediate Public Inquest into the death of Regis Korshinski-Paquet

Say her name… Regis Korchinski-Paquet died in the presence of police officers in her Toronto home last week, her family barred from observing the circumstances.

The Urban Alliance on Race Relations calls for an immediate public inquest into the events that led to Regis Korchinski’s untimely death, in the aftermath of the family’s call for help to the Toronto Police Service. According to media reports, the family met Toronto Police officers outside the door to her apartment. When Ms. Korckhinski-Paquet requested use of the bathroom, the police allowed her, but not her family, to re-enter the home. Her mother and her brother heard her calling for help, but the police continued to bar them from the apartment.

Decades of 911 calls to the police have resulted in the deaths of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people. These have been typically followed by SIU investigations, yet the deaths continue, resulting in little to no reprieve.

This is unacceptable.

The UARR is calling for a public inquiry, rather than an SIU report, because — due to past incidents — there is reason to believe that a Special Investigations Unit will not account for the broader context of systemic racism in policing that exists in this city. The SIU process requires confidentiality during the investigation and may prevent public access to police testimony. Such a report will not prevent the further disproportionate deaths of Black people experiencing mental health crises at the hands of the Toronto Police Service. An inquiry beyond the mandate of the SIU is one step to addressing the ongoing deaths that have arisen from such interactions. Anti- Black Racism within the justice system, including within policing has had devastating impacts on our Black communities in Toronto and across the country. Therefore, we call for a public review with the mandate to inspect the police budget and reallocate services and funds away from police that would be better delivered by a community-driven agency trained specifically to deal with mental health crises.

The City of Toronto is responsible for funding the Toronto Police Service and ensuring that it adheres to the City’s Human Rights and Anti-Harassment Policy. If the TPS does not, the City must seek alternatives for appropriate and safe responses to people experiencing mental health crises. If there is a real commitment to addressing Anti-Black Racism within the City of Toronto, the City Council will need to act decisively and act now.

The Province has ignored Justice Tulloch’s recommendations, the review of the Thunder Bay Police Service by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, and an interim report by the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), which forms part of the OHRCs ongoing inquiry into racial profiling and discrimination by the Toronto Police Service. Additionally, till date, we are still waiting for the full implementation of the recommendations from the Inquest into the death of Andrew Loku.

UARR and other community groups have demanded police de-escalation training which has been reportedly implemented; yet this training did not help Regis. We have had enough reports and recommendations… WE NEED ACTION NOW!

We are faced with a criminal justice crisis, a public health system crisis, and an economic crisis that has left many of us facing financial hardship.

We need an immediate stop to the disproportionate use of lethal force against Black people in Toronto, now during this pandemic and finally in a post-COVID-19 future.

Neethan Shan

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