Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Pelham Park Teams Champs at J4A Tourney Against Police Brutality

by Elijah Whitaker
Basics #11 (November 2008)

‘Pelham Park Young Set’: The Youth Division's championship team of the Justice for Alwy Basketball tournament. From left to right: Rushown, J.R., Gordel, Daniel, and Marvin.

‘5 Point’: The Adult Division's championship team of the Justice for Alwy Basketball tournament. From left to right: Richard Campbell, (non-player), P-Nise, East-Ca$h, & Bravo.

On September 13, 2008 the Justice for Alwy Campaign held its first ever Annual 3-on-3-Basketball Tournament. ‘The 1st Annual Justice for Alwy 3-on-3-Basketball Tournament’ was borne out of community concerns over police brutality – namely after Alwy al-Nadhir, an unarmed Toronto youth, was shot and killed by Toronto Police last Halloween. Out of this tragedy, Alwy’s family, friends, and other local community organizers saw the need to get organized to put an end to the siege on our communities. Together, they created the Justice for Alwy Campaign Against Police Brutality.

The Tournament was held at Carlton Park, located in the south west side of the city near Symington and Dupont. Teams registered from all over the city, including teams from Pelham Park, Jane and Finch, Markham, Scarborough, Regent Park and many more areas throughout the city. With players, spectators, volunteers and organizers, the event drew over 100 people. And despite the pouring rain and a slippery court, the tournament saw high-level competition and intense games, accompanied with music and a BBQ to top it off.

As for the tournament itself, teams from Pelham Park dominated both the adult and youth divisions. In the youth division, Pelham Park Young Set went undefeated throughout the entire tournament. With stellar performances from Gordel, Rushown, Daniel, J.R, and Marvin, they were able to tear through the competition eventually beating neighbourhood counterparts Clinton, Pedro, and Squid of Triple Threat in the finals.

In the adult division, another team representing Pelham Park went undefeated. 5-Point, which consisted of Richard Campbell, East Ka$h, P Nise and Bravo proved to be too much for the adult division, beating another local team Trend-Setters (Chevy X, Marbles, Prince, Kevin Campbell, Kris Neptune ) in the finals.

Congratulations to both teams!

Basketball aside, the political purposes of the event itself - uniting to express our opposition to police brutality - was not lost. Being at the event, it was clear from the discussions many of the youth were having that there are serious tensions between many youth and Toronto police. The frustration was palpable – many expressed discontent over the overall policy of community policing, many exchanged experiences about the daily harassment, false arrests, brutal beatings and verbal confrontations many have with the police.

Community concerns over police brutality and racial profiling are, of course, not new to the city. The Black Action Defence Committee has been organizing around the issue of police brutality for a number of years, and with the recent police killings of Freddy Villanueva, Alwy al-Nadhir, Byron Debassiege and the 2004 murder of Jeoffrey Reodica, the already frayed relationship between youth and the police might be worsening.

In the end, organizers thought the event was a great success and are excited about next year’s tourney.

‘Trendsetters’: The Adult Division's 2nd place team. Marbles, Prince, Chevy X, and Kevin Campbell, and Kris Neptune.

‘Triple Threat’: The Youth Division's 2nd place team. From left to right: Pedro, Clinton, and Squid.