by Ellis Mayfield
Basics Issue#10 (Aug/Sep 2008)
Toronto Police Services has recently received a $5 million dollar boost in its budget from the provincial government for its Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy (TAVIS) unit. The money is earmarked to add 26 new officers to the Jane and Finch and Regent Park areas. Beefing up the police further simply doesn’t make sense in a city that is ranked by Statistics Canada, as of July 2008, as having the second lowest crime-rate in Canada. In Toronto, the police budget stands at a whopping $840 million, which adds up to as much spent on Fire Services, Social Services, Shelter, Support, and Housing, TTC and Wheel-Trans, Children’s Services, Emergency Medical Services, Toronto Public Health, and Homes for the Aged all put together.
Ontario Correctional Services Minister Rick Bartolucci has lauded TAVIS for making over 10,000 arrests and seizing 400 guns since the program began in 2006. That’s 1 gun for every 25 people arrested.
What most people who watch these raids on television the next day don’t realize is that most of these youth are never convicted or even charged. The pro-cop corporate media, such as Toronto’s CP24, loves to frighten and console its audiences with images of tens or hundreds of black youth being arrested in TAVIS unit raids. But we know very well that the guns and drugs do not come from these communities; and those youth who are getting pulled into the illicit economy do so because the formal economy and the government simply isn’t offering these youth the jobs, skills training, and educational opportunities they need. The only solution for these youth will be a social and economic system that provides them with meaningful life opportunities, not joblessness, decrepit housing, and irrelevant curriculums.