1000+ Canadian scholars, lawyers call for defunding police
In light of ongoing violence against black, Indigenous and racialized people in Canada and around the world at the hands of police, a group of scholars from various Canadian universities have written the attached open letter.
Ours is an evidence driven, unequivocal call in support of defunding the police and reallocating resources to help build stronger communities, not stronger police forces, so that Canada can develop an effective public safety strategy that privileges prevention through community building, economic security and social services over reactionary and largely punitive criminal justice responses to social problems.
Our current model is costly ($15.1 billion spent annually on policing in this country) and ineffective (research consistently shows that pouring money into policing does not reduce crime rates). Police power over-reliance on the criminal justice system to address social problems disproportionately impacts Indigenous people and those from communities marginalized by virtue of race, poverty, sexual and gender identities, and health conditions (including mental health).
The letter, now signed by over 800 scholars and lawyers from across the country, demands that our prime minister, premiers and mayors take immediate action to reduce the power of police and thus the violence they inflict and inequality they help perpetuate. Policing in Canada has a long and deeply embedded racist and colonialist history that is far from being excised.
We the undersigned, drawing on rigorous, peer reviewed evidence, firmly support the call initiated by activists in the Black Lives Matter movement and Indigenous communities to defund the police as one important response to racism and colonialism in Canada. It is our firm hope that Canada can become a world leader in social justice and equality that has a real and lasting impact on those who have suffered institutional and systemic racism and discrimination far too long.