Pro­test­ers dis­rupt po­lice board meet­ing

Metro Canada (Toronto) - - TORONTO -

An ex­plo­sive meet­ing had been ex­pected Thurs­day as the Toronto po­lice board tack­led the con­tro­ver­sial is­sue of whether there should be armed of­fi­cers in high schools.

The sur­prise was how fast the fire­works started — shortly af­ter the first of 74 speak­ers sched­uled to ad­dress the topic ut­tered his first words. Pro­test­ers from Black Lives Mat­ter and other groups out­side the over­flow­ing au­di­to­rium at po­lice head­quar­ters — in­clud­ing many who were sched­uled to ad­dress the board — voiced their anger at be­ing ex­cluded from the pro­ceed­ings be­cause there wasn’t enough space.

Within 10 min­utes, chants from both out­side and within shut the meet­ing down, with board mem­bers leav­ing the room for about 15 min­utes un­til or­der was re­stored.

The fuss came af­ter a mo­tion that launched the de­bate, from Toronto Po­lice Ser­vices Board mem­ber Ken Jef­fers, who moved to sus­pend the nine-year-old School Re­source Of­fi­cer (SROs) pro­gram un­til a full re­view has been con­ducted, with a final re­port ex­pected by Dec. 31. At the end of the long night, the board voted to de­fer a de­ci­sion on the fate of the pro­gram un­til year-end. Jef­fers cited con­cerns about “nor­mal­iza­tion” of po­lice in schools and is­sues raised by the com­mu­nity that schools with of­fi­cers as­signed feel stig­ma­tized and pro­filed must be heard.

The pro­gram has 36 uni­formed of­fi­cers as­signed to 75 Toronto pub­lic and Catholic high schools.

TORSTAR NEWS SER­VICE

ac­tivist Desmond Cole ap­pears be­fore the board thurs­day.

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