Protesters disrupt police board meeting
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.
activist Desmond Cole appears before the board thursday.