to this republic, for however long we stand,
It has been a very long few weeks since I last wrote to you, friends. We've seen a holiday weekend in both my countries accompanied by fears of Covid surges, and quickly on the tails of those weekends we've had an upheaval toward justice like nothing I've seen before.
I hope that by now my stance on the Black Lives Matter movement isn't a surprise to anyone; I hope I've been clear in the past, as I intend to be now, that racism has no place in justice and that so much of what is unjust about our country is influenced by white supremacy. I hope that it doesn't surprise you that I am in absolute favour of defunding police departments in favour of research-supported initiatives like community-focused safe injection sites, integrated public housing, well-supported social work programs, robust mental health support, and comprehensive nutrition and housing access, all of which minimize the needs that lend themselves to higher crime rates. I believe, and research supports, that most crime is the result of unmet need.
As an example, Toronto's police budget is $358 million, a number that rose despite a complete failure to protect the gay community from a decades-long serial killing spree, a number of violently racist incidents, and hundreds of pedestrian deaths due to unenforced traffic laws. If the percentage of that budget that currently funds lawsuits and "administrative leave" for "problem officers" were redirected into social programs, we'd have the funding for so many of our city's unmet needs. Odds are very, very good that your local budget has a similar disparity.
I hope, too, that I've been clear in my belief that rehabilitative justice is incompatible with the carceral state, and that the prison system at best needs a massive overhaul. For-profit prisons are an absolute failure of justice, and the open secret of prison slave labour is another.
I hope that hearing these things from me doesn't surprise you. If it does, I've failed at what I set out to do, which is instil you with the belief that a better world is possible. There is power in believing it, and more power still in behaving and speaking in ways that insist it be true. A better world is possible. Other options exist. Give yourself the gift of a radical imagination.
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