by Salma Al Nadhir
BASICS #15 (Sep/Oct 2009)
The second annual Justice for Alwy Basketball tournament was held with great success this summer, held for the second time at Carlton Park (Symington and Dupont area). The tournament was held to raise awareness about the issue of police brutality and was dedicated to the memory of Alwy Al Nadhir (a 17 year-old murdered by police in October 2007). The other main purpose of the event was to educate the youth about the Justice for Alwy Group (J4A) – a campaign that is fighting to raise awareness about police brutality and develop a broad mass movement against it in our city. It is a group that victims can feel safe approaching to report incidents of police violence and racism, and one which young people interested in organizing their communities for meaningful change can join.
All the performances and speakers at the tournament touched up on the issue of police brutality. Speakers at the tournament included elder Norman Otis Richmond from CKLN 88.1fm and Odion Osegyefo, President of the York United Black Students Association. Other speakers included Shak, a young victim of police brutality from the neighbourhood of Pelham Park, nearby where we held the tournament. The 14 year-old Shak shared his frightening experience of being assaulted by police this past May – an attack that left him nearly unconscious and with a damaged eye. Local activist and rapper Wasun also gave out an amazing performance dedicated to all the victims of police violence.
The tournament this year had three different age-group divisions competing for cash prizes. The tournament was intense with over 100 players competing for the winning prize of $500. The Spectaculars took second place in the “19 over” division being defeated by the champions 5 Dutch from Jane and Finch. For the second Division (“18 under”), Team Swag won defeating the second place finishers team Y Trust. Lastly, for the “16 under”, Mayhem took first place winning the prize money of $250, while the Sheppard Ballers came in second. The event not only allowed youth from across the GTA to come together peacefully to play a game they all had a passion for, but reinforced their common experiences – the understanding of the violent and oppressive conditions that affected them all.
Throughout the day, as the performances and basketball was going on, a muralist created a painting about police brutality. This year’s tournament was bigger than the last and we hope next year’s will be even better. The tournament was a success with youth from hoods throughout the city (and beyond) united to play ball against police brutality.
For more information or to get involved with Justice for Alwy or next year’s basketball tournament, email email@example.com. ∗