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Abolish Policing - Black Lives Matter protest in Toronto

Community forum to organize alternatives to policing in Toronto

Here is a document shared by Toronto Prisoners’ Rights Project on organizing alternatives to policing in Toronto. The even will take place on June 20, 2020.




We divided the forum into four parts.

In each part, we will hear from 5 community members that signed up to offer their thoughts on creating an alternative to policing in Toronto. Each community member will have approximately five minutes to offer their thoughts.

A panel of eight community organizers will offer feedback and support as we search for action items and next steps.

A team of volunteer note-takers will document the forum. The notes will be used to create the first draft of our action plan to create alternatives to policing.


Community members completed a registration linked to our original forum invitation. Members of the Toronto Prisoners Rights Project tried to highlight the voices and experiences of Black, Indigenous, People of Colour while creating space for a diversity of experiences. More people signed up to participate than we could accommodate in the allotted time. As such, we are encouraging all viewers to share their thoughts on the discussion questions online.

To moderate the discussion, we contacted diverse organizations and members of our community that have been vocal about creating alternatives to policing and community models that keep each other safe.


The Community Forum will be live-streamed on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Youtube on the Toronto Prisoners Rights Project official pages. We will post a recorded version of the webinar with a transcription within a week of the event.


Toronto Sign Language Interpreter Service will be providing live interpretation in ASL for this event.

We are working to provide closed-captioning during the webinar.




4:00 PM

Opening Ceremony: Phyllis Mckenna (Waabaande Mi’ingun Kwe)

4:15 PM

Welcoming Remarks and Introduction to the Forum

4:20 PM

Introduction to 1st Organizers Panel

4:25 PM

Statements from Community Members, 5 minutes each

4:50 PM

Responses from 1st Organizers Panel

5:10 PM

Introduction to 2nd Organizers Panel

5:15 PM

Statements from Community Members, 5 minutes each

5:40 PM

Responses from 2nd Organizers Panel

6:00 PM


6:15 PM

Introduction to 3rd Organizers Panel

6:20 PM

Statements from Community Members, 5 minutes each

6:45 PM

Responses from 3rd Organizers Panel

7:05 PM

Introduction to 4th Organizers Panel

7:10 PM

Statements from Community Members, 5 minutes each

7:45 PM

Responses from 4th Organizers Panel

7:55 PM

Closing Statements and Next Steps

8:10 PM


8:17 PM


8:24 PM

Closing Ceremony


** Please note we are still adding a few people to this list of already awesome panellists. Bios will be provided in the coming days for each of these organizers.

First Organizer Panel

Cheyenne Sun

Rawan Q.

Vanessa Gray

Cricket Clement

Jessica Evans

Kim Vaz

Krisna Saravanamuttu

Second Organizer Panel

Tamyka Bullen

Cathy Crowe

Syrus Marcus Ware

Khadija Kanj

Maha Jeghbir

Rawan Habib

Pam Frache

Third Organizer Panel

Lindsay Jennings

Sima Atri

Jenn Chan

Lorraine Lam

Janet Rodriguez

Kike Roach

Fourth Organizer Panel

Nasim Asgari

Andrea Vásquez Jiménez

Ayaan Aye

Emily van der Meulen

Abigail Danquah

Jaden Chattargoon

Robyn Maynard


What would a community-led alternative to policing need to include to be effective and accountable?

How can we centre disability justice and the principles of universal access in this community-led alternative?

How do we center Black and Indigenous voices and experiences in this work and honour the long and present tradition of community care models in these communities? How do we support Black and Indigenous organizing already happening?

How can community-led alternatives to policing centre femmes, trans, non-binary and two spirit folks?

What do we need to consider when we are engaging volunteers and participants that would serve as respondents to calls for support? What kind of training should we provide to volunteers? What trusted community organizations can support this training?

How can we prioritize the safety and wellbeing of people participating in this community-led alternative?

What do we need to consider when bringing together a group of people responsible for creating this alternative to policing? Who needs to be reflected in the group of people working on creating this alternative?

How should this group of people make decisions and engage the public?

How do we make sure this alternative is sustainable?


Current Issues

How are we helping people who have language barriers where English is not their first language?

What is already working in our communities? How are our communities already organizing crisis responses without the police?

What contributes to conflict in our communities now?

How can we approach hostile or polarized conversations about the police with family, friends, and strangers?

How can we discourage folks within our circles or around us from calling the police?

How do we reach people in the suburbs?

How can we address the presence of police on college and university campuses?

How do we address the ongoing injustices present in the prisons and jails?

How do we deal with gun violence, especially with regard to youth?

How do we protect and support migrant workers?

How do we ensure that the call to defund police doesn’t result in an overburdening of already stretched community services/workers?

What skills and resources do we already have access to?

What criteria would we need to establish to work with trusted partner agencies (ie. they will not report to Child and Family Services or the Police)?

How can we better redirect mobilizing energy away from distractive reforms (i.e. body cameras) and towards structural change (i.e. divestment and investment)?

What (if any) is your biggest reservation or concern about police abolition?

What are the biggest barriers to police/prison abolition?

Changing the Culture

How can we change our own thinking around criminalization and punishment?

How will this be a response that not only centers activists, but also centers people who are affected by the police every day?

How can we address power dynamics?

How do we centre Indigenous voices and take an approach that works toward both decarceral and decolonized futures?

How can people with privilege engage in this project?

What can we learn from previous generations?

What changes can we make to curriculum and education?

How can we think about the interconnected harms policing and prisons have caused/continue to cause to Indigenous and Black communities?

How can we ensure social workers/mental health workers are not uncritically mobilized or assumed to be ‘safe’ alternatives to police in situations of mental health crises?

How do we ensure that calls to defund police are not co-opted/used to undermine calls for abolition?

How do we ensure we don’t reproduce punitive and shame-based practices into our restorative and community-based approaches to justice?

Moving Forward

What does a community without police or prisons look like for us?

What other public services should we be focused on?

How do we address the deep connections between social service providers and police?

It seems like reimagining community safety involves developing trust, transparency and security among and within one another. How can we build relationships and extend our circles of care?

How can journalists and other members of the media support the creation of an alternative to policing?

How can we approach low-barrier training for volunteers?

What does de-escalation look like in practice?

How can we organize accessible entry points for people trying to contact a community-led alternative to policing? Should we create a short-number (e.g. 411), should we create an app?

What other forms of surveillance do we need to think about (ie. TTC fare inspectors) and how do we deal with these?

How can we think of space – in a geographical and physical sense – to create safety? Can we create literal safe spaces to direct people experiencing a crisis?

How do we deal with gender-based violence and intimate partner violence in our communities?

What do we need to do to make sure our alternative crisis teams feel like a safe option?

How can we build solidarity across the different community safety needs with a core focus on abolition?

What is our timeline to bring this into effect?

Where can I look for more information?

What can I do right now to support?

About Rachel Ehrenfeld

Rachel Ehrenfeld
Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld is Founder and President of the New York-based American Center for Democracy, and the Economic Warfare Institute. Dr. Ehrenfeld has authored academic and policy papers and more than one thousand articles. Her books include FUNDING EVIL: How Terrorism is Financed – and How to Stop Ii (2011) • EVIL MONEY (HarperCollins, 1992,1994). Her latest book project is on The Economic Warfare against the U.S. from Within and Without. • NARCOTERRORISM (Basic Books, 1990, 1992).

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