First Emancipation Day…

July 30, 2021

Government of Canada – Heritage Canada
Emancipation Day — August 1

Aug. 1, 1834, marks the day that the entire British Empire declared slaves emancipated from bondage.  On March 24, 2021, the Canadian House of Commons declared this day to commemorate the decision and to re-enforce the message of human rights.  “Canadians are not always aware that Black and Indigenous Peoples were once enslaved on the land that is now Canada. Those who fought enslavement were pivotal in shaping our society to be as diverse as it is today… Therefore, each August 1, Canadians are invited to reflect, educate and engage in the ongoing fight against anti-Black racism and discrimination… Emancipation Day celebrates the strength and perseverance of Black communities in Canada.”  The site includes a number of historic and current commentaries on our reality today and a list of references.  Related site: Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC):

CBC News – Yasmine Ghania
Ontario Human Rights Commission calls on province to address systemic racism in policing – Commission recommending police consult with prosecutors before charging suspects

The Ontario Human Rights believes it has a discrepancy that applies across Canada and is calling for all legislative bodies to address – racism in policing practices around charging.  Police when charging tend to over-charge Indigenous, Black people and other racialized minorities.  The Commission is offering a ten step cure:  “To dismantle systemic racism, we must re-envision the systems that allow it to persist, and we need people in government with the vision, commitment to equity and tenacity to take on the difficult work of changing the system.”  Full report:  OHRC proposes 10 steps to end systemic racism in policing  Framework for change to address systemic racism in policing    News release:

Prison Policy Initiative (US) – Wanda Bertram
The Biden Administration must walk back the MailGuard program banning letters from home in federal prisons – The Bureau of Prisons is implementing a heartless, ineffective policy with far-reaching effects.

No more postal mail is the eventual outcome of this Biden administration decision making.  The decision involves the substitute use of electronic communication, more expensive and less available to the families of many incarcerated people.  This decision, and the decision to require prisoners to return to prison from paroled to home status because they are too old and frail to endure Covid-19 risks in prison, leave considerable doubt about the era of prison reform at the federal level in the US.  “The Prison Policy Initiative has campaigned for years to protect incarcerated people’s letters from home, because letters are often their only lifeline to loved ones and the outside world. We’ve been concerned for some time that private companies — which already make it costly for incarcerated people to make phone calls and video calls — would someday partner up with prisons to block people from sending physical mail, too…”  Described as a ‘life line for prisoners’ physical mail denial is nothing but additional secondary punishment, more family expense in a system that already drains the family resources (both the state and the private companies take a share of the often exorbitant  fees) and practical torture.    Related article: Las Vegas Review- Journal (US) – Katelyn Newberg    Nevada seized personal funds from prisoners despite withdrawal cap   Related article: The Atlantic – Clint Smith   The Lines of Connection – States make millions off phone-call fees from incarcerated people, but the cost can be even higher for their families   Related article: WXYZ – The Detroit News – Ross Jones Detroit Police commissioners ‘shocked’ by Sgt.’s pattern of alleged behavior, promotion   Related article: Teen (US) – Takenya Nixon Brail   Rising Crime in Cities Like Chicago Should Not Lead to More Policing – This op-ed argues that policing can create conditions that allow for even more violence.

Pew Foundation (US) –  Beth Connolly
Local Initiatives Address Opioid Use Disorder – Community collaboratives aim to inform broader efforts to reduce overdose deaths and improve treatment

The link brings up a number of articles exploring the opiate overdose problems and a number of community responses – six to date – to the problem.  Defined as a health problem and not a criminal enforcement approach, “Understanding the most effective ways to prevent overdose deaths and provide treatment, while ensuring that communities have the resources to implement these strategies, is critical to curbing this public health crisis. That’s why Pew’s substance use prevention and treatment initiative is supporting six community research collaboratives that are committed to addressing the opioid crisis. These collaboratives are evaluating their local programs and will disseminate the findings, with the goal of encouraging the adoption of successful, innovative models nationwide and spurring state and local leaders to invest in evidence-based programs.”   Related article: CBC News – Adam Carter   Potent opioids showing up in Toronto’s drug supply for 1st time as overdose deaths mount – Painkillers developed decades ago but not approved for use showing up in the city

Washington Post – Mark Berman, Julie Tate and Jennifer Jenkins
 Police shootings continue daily, despite a pandemic, protests and pushes for reform – Since 2015, police have fatally shot more than 6,400 people

The article not only identifies the police killings since 2015 but also presents a number of laws calculated to shield the identity of the police and the actions leading to the shootings.  “The Washington Post began tracking fatal shootings by on-duty police officers in 2015, the year after a White officer in Ferguson, Mo., shot and killed a Black 18-year old. Over the past six years, officers have fatally shot more than 6,400 people, an average of nearly a thousand a year, or almost three each day. The yearly toll even reached a new high of 1,021 fatal shootings in 2020. Midway through this year, fatal police shootings are down compared with the same period last year. They have fluctuated month to month since the project began, ending near 1,000 annually.”