Dudley Laws, a civil rights activist who took on Toronto police over the treatment of black citizens in the 1980s, died Thursday morning.

Laws, 76, passed away after a long battle with kidney disease, according to his son Robert Laws.

Laws was born in Jamaica in 1934 and immigrated to Britain before eventually settling in Toronto in 1965.

Laws came to the forefront as an activist in 1988 when he founded the Black Action Defence Committee in response to the shootings of several black men by police around the Toronto area.

The group led protests and pushed for changes to the law to ensure black citizens were treated fairly by police.

A party was held for Laws at the Jamaican Canadian Centre in northwest Toronto on Sunday, but Laws was too sick to attend.

"Our community has just lost a true champion and a voice has been silenced that can never be replaced," said event organizer Valarie Steele.

"Dudley Laws was a man that made sure that the Canadian institutions that are so brutal to us paused and took notes, that there was someone looking out for the best interest of the African Canadian communities."