Community leaders discuss an end to gang violence
Published Thursday, July 19, 2012 10:11AM EDT Last Updated Thursday, July 19, 2012 11:40PM EDT
Black community activists are asking to join a meeting with politicians next week to discuss an end to recent gun violence in Toronto.
Margaret Parsons, with the African Canadian Legal Clinic, says the death rate among the city’s black community is too high and must be addressed by a change in culture, not an increase to policing.
Residents of a scarred Scarborough neighbourhood joined Parsons and other community leaders, including city councillors, after a bloody shootout at a block party left two dead and nearly two dozen others injured.
Local Coun. Paul Ainslie joined the meeting at the Don Montgomery Community Centre and called for more community programming and services that build a community foundation.
“We have gangs in this city that we are trying to deal with. And in dealing with it, it impacts the lives of innocent bystanders,” Ainslie said.
“I am calling for more to be done. I am here to support the African-Canadian community.”
Police say Monday’s violence erupted when a man who may be a member of the Galloway Boys gang was shot and then returned fire, spraying the crowd with bullets.
The gunfire killed Shyanne Charles, 14, of Toronto, and 23-year-old Ajax resident Joshua Yasay, who had a degree in criminology from York University and wanted to become a police officer.
Community in mourning
Community members gathered at vigils for the victims Tuesday and again on Wednesday, demanding an end to gun violence and calling for their neighbours to stand against the threat of street gangs.
Toronto police, meantime, continue to investigate Monday’s deadly shooting and have urged witnesses to come forward with information.
Mayor Rob Ford has spoke out strongly against those responsible for the shooting, saying he wants thugs and violent criminals “out of the city.”
Ford said he will be attending a meeting with Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Police Chief Bill Blair on Monday, when he will ask the provincial government for more funding for police.
Ford also said he want increased sentences for those who are found in possession of a handgun.
With files from The Canadian Press