By Evan Johnston
Residents of Danzig Street and the surrounding Morningside community gathered on the evening of Wednesday, July 18th, for a solidarity march to take back the streets. Approximately 100 people met at the Danzig basketball court, coming together to show their support for Monday night’s victims and their families, as well as to affirm that they won’t be scared in their own neighbourhood.
The march began at the scene of Monday night’s shooting, and passed by the home of one of the individuals killed that night, 14 year old Shyanne Charles. There was a huge showing of support for the march, with drivers honking and waving as they passed. One young girl held up a sign as she marched that read, “shoot for your dreams, not at each other.”
Along the way, many in the march expressed anger and disappointment at politicians, a sentiment that was picked up again at the culminating rally. One resident was particularly angry at Rob Ford’s response thus far, noting that he has not only failed to reach out to the families of the victims, but has offered nothing tangible to the community.
After marching up Morningside Ave, across Lawrence Ave, and down Kingston Rd, the crowd gathered together to chant, pray, and reflect on their shared pain. The children in attendance were led in a chant of “no more violence, no more war,” and were asked to make a pledge never to turn to violence. The rest of the community also made a pledge to fight this together, and with fists raised in the air in a showing of solidarity, we were reminded that there is strength in unity. “This is a community of love,” said one community activist.
One of the organizers of the march told the crowd that this gathering wasn’t a spotlight for politicians, nor was it a time to thank the police – “the police are not our friends,” she said, even if they pretend to be in times of crisis. Instead, she invited members of the community to come to the microphone to share their experiences and the emotions they were feeling. People spoke about how they felt on Monday night, who they knew that was wounded and their determination to work together to make the community safer.
In the end, the mood of the community was one of love and strength; love for each other, and the strength to endure the hard task ahead of rebuilding the trust – and feeling of safety – that was shaken by the Danzig shooting.
If the politicians at City Hall and Queen’s Park are unwilling to do what it takes to bring the economic opportunities and social infrastructure that’s being demanded in Morningside community, then by the looks of Wednesday’s march, politicians of all stripes will have a formidable opponent in the weeks, months, and years to come.
Photo from NDP MP Craig Scott.