Target: Toronto police
Goal: End police brutality on civilians
Eighteen-year-old Sammy Yatim was shot nine times and then tasered while he was already laying in his blood. A bystander’s video of the confrontation shows Yatim wielding a knife at Toronto police officers from an empty street car. From the footage, the police gave Yatim one warning and then opened fire only seconds later. Yatim died in a hospital later that night and the offending officer was suspended with pay.
Hundreds of people rallied together to protest the excessive force that was used against the 18-year-old. The protesters chanted “Shame!” while marching down the streets of Toronto. Yatim’s death echoes the unnecessary shootings of civilians and the police aggression used during the G-20 protests. Sylvia Klibingatis was similarly shot to death by Toronto police for wielding a knife in 2011; her sister Anita Wasowicz held Klibingatis’ photo while marching to honor Yatim’s tragically short-lived life.
The Toronto police force must address the disconnect between protecting civilians and overusing power. Although Yatim was holding a knife, he was in an empty street car and a distance away from others. The officers should have incapacitated Yatim rather than shoot him to death. In addition, the police should have considered mental health or substance abuse factors instead of immediately deeming Yatim as a cold-blooded criminal who deserved to die. Although full details of the confrontation have not fully surfaced, it is clear from the videos that Yatim did not deserve to be shot nine times. By signing the petition below, you will condemn Toronto police for using excessive force and costing civilians’ lives.
Dear Toronto Police Department,
The death of Sammy Yatim was tragic, avoidable and unnecessary. Given the fact that Yatim was not holding any firearms, he could have easily been incapacitated in a manner that would not have led to his death. The officer who repeatedly shot the 18-year-old did not have the right to choose whether Yatim deserved to live or die. Even former Toronto police detective Mark Mendelson said that from watching the video, “it’s not hard to come to the conclusion that excessive force was used.”
Unfortunately this is not an isolated incident. Toronto civilians took to the streets not only in protest of Yatim’s death but also Sylvia Klibingratis’ and the police brutality that occurred at the G20 Summit. While we understand that judgment can quickly become clouded and snap decisions have to be made when lives are in danger, the police must be held accountable to the people and not to the gun. We urge Toronto police to reexamine their priorities and training methods so that more lives are not unnecessarily lost.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Chris Huggins via Flickr