TORONTO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--More than 2,000 artists have signed an open letter in support of Black Lives Matter - Toronto (BLM - TO), after police targeted and arrested three attendees of a public art demonstration on Saturday, July 18, 2020.
After the peaceful art-based intervention, the arrestees were detained for 17 hours and denied access to legal counsel for over five hours. Among the list of signees are some of Canada’s most prominent artists: Polaris Music Prize winner Lido Pimienta and musician Leslie Feist; Order of Canada recipient Joy Kogawa; Governor General's Award winners Dionne Brand and Ali Kazimi; filmmakers Alanis Obomsawin, John Greyson, Audrey Huntley and Jennifer Podemski; television show Kim Convenience's Jean Yoon; and renowned artists Ness Lee, Shary Boyle, Rajni Perrera, Nepsidhu and Kent Monkman.
BLM - TO’s action was calling attention to the way Canadian society pays tribute to anti-Black racism, anti-Indigeneity and colonial violence through the statues of Egerton Ryerson, John A. Macdonald, and King Edward VII.
In voicing their support, the artists penned a letter, stating: “These monuments honour legacies of racial violence, segregation and genocide, and that their presence in public space emphasizes that the lives and histories of Black and Indigenous people are not valued in spaces that we all share.”
The artists call for the removal of these monuments from Toronto’s public squares and condemn the detention of the demonstrators.
Along with supporting Black Lives Matter's demands (blacklivesmatter.ca/defund-the-police), the artists are calling for:
- All charges be dropped against Jenna Reid, Danielle Smith and Daniel Gooch
- An immediate reduction of the existing $1.1 billion Toronto Police budget by a minimum of 50%
- A removal of monuments that celebrate genocide, racism and colonial violence
The full letter and list of signees can be found at artistsforblacklives.wordpress.com