Policing is a public health crisis: Doctors Call for Defunding of Toronto Police
June 25, 2020 - Toronto
Today, fifty doctors sent a letter calling on Toronto City Hall to address the public health crisis of policing. Doctors are supporting calls from Black and Indigenous communities to address systemic anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism, defund the police, and re-allocate the funds to appropriately resource communities. Doctors share the community’s concerns of safety and recognize that the healthcare system is often complicit in systemic anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism, regularly working in concert with police services, especially as it relates to mental health crises.
“Doctors know that anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism in policing is a public health crisis. We stand in solidarity with community calls to defund the police.” said Semir Bulle, medical student and Co-President of the Black Medical Students Association at University of Toronto.
The group is calling for full transparency of the Toronto Police services budget with defunding of the police budget to create new community emergency services to support the mental health needs of Black, Indigenous, racialized, disabled, poor, and other community members made vulnerable by structural violence. Further, the group calls for the creation of non-police response teams trained in de-escalation and crisis support who root their work in transformative trauma- and community-informed practices.
“As a physician, I see the impact of police violence on racialized and marginalized communities on a daily basis,” stated Dr. Suzanne Shoush, family physician and Indigenous Health Lead with the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto. “We cannot police our way out of systemic racism and systemic poverty.”
The group is holding a panel event this evening to bring together the health community to further highlight potential solutions to this crisis.
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Semir Bulle, MD candidate