National Column: During a summer of violence in Toronto these Black lives should matter, too

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by Rosie DiManno

All Black lives matter, not just the ones that matter keenly to Black Lives Matter.

Not only individuals killed or wounded or street-checked in allegedly over-policed neighbourhoods.

Not any less Blacks murdered by Blacks during a spree of gun violence that has seized the city in recent months.

It is not remotely racist to say so, and to wonder where Black Lives Matter and high-profile activists about policing have been during this blood-splatter war of attrition on Toronto’s streets.

It should damn well matter to everybody, regardless of race, in this metropolis that we share.

Such troubling silence – distance – when the city needs engaged leadership from all quarters, most especially those most trusted by the Black community.

In the vacuum, racists, looking for a reason to demonize all Black people, are having a field day, advancing their hateful bilge on irresponsible newspaper comment platforms and social media.

That only entrenches attitudes of “them” against “us.”


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It’s no less grievous to me that a family friend was shot and killed in the driveway of a Jane-Finch area townhouse in a targeted attack 19 months ago – the homicide still unsolved – because the victim was Black and I am white.

So I look now at the photo in front of me and see a boy. A handsome dreadlocked Black boy with a bit of sass in his facial expression.

This is the photograph that police released on Thursday, after obtaining judicial permission to publicize the identity of a minor, which would normally be forbidden under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Sixteen-year-old Keyshawn Jones, of Toronto, is wanted for two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

Same for Abdulkadir Handule, as earlier disclosed, because there are no such protections for a 22-year-old.

Give yourself up, Keyshawn. Before this gets any worse.

You must be scared. You may be on the run, although investigators donít think youíve split town. You’re hiding. But you will be found, eventually. And if you have a gun when that happens, the possibilities are high for further wreckage of your life and harm to others.

You have likely found refuge with a family member or a friend.

“I would suspect that to be true, only because it’s very difficult for a 16-year-old to hide out on his own in this city,” Det. Jeff Allington, lead homicide investigator, told the Star on Friday.

Police know Keyshawn’s home address. “He’s not residing where heís supposed to be,” said Allington.

Neither is Handule.

Jones and Handule are wanted in a deadly June 30 shooting, described as a running gunfight, on Queen St. W., near the Cube nightclub. Right in the heart of the downtown Entertainment District, before the sun had gone down. Amidst a thick Saturday night sidewalk crowd.

Two emerging artists from the local rap scene were killed: Jahvante Smart, 21, better known as Smoke Dawg, and 28-year-old Ernest (Kosi) Modekwe, also known as Koba Prime. Smart had released his first single in 2015 and was on Drakeís Boy Meets World tour. (Drake posted an Instagram photo of he and Smart performing with the caption “Rest up Smoke.”) Modekwe was manager of a hip-hop collective called Prime.

A loaded firearm was found on Smartís body after he was taken to hospital.

A third person, a female who hasnít been named by police, was also wounded in the incident but apparently was unable to shed any light on the confrontation.

“She wasnít in a position to give us that information,” said Allington of the woman. “She was as co-operative as she could be.”

It’s not clear – police aren’t saying – if the woman was an acquaintance of the victims. Nor are they certain of the relationship between the victims and the suspects.

“We’re not sure at this point,” said Allington. “We don’t know the motive.”

Well, I suspect cops know a lot more than theyíre saying and have good investigative reason not to reveal it.

Something menacing to the local commonweal has been stalking the city, indifferent to the lives of innocent bystanders as bullets fly in playgrounds and parking lots and social housing complexes and bustling streets and on my block.

The violence has all the earmarks of gang feuds and territorial rivalries and artificial turf borders breeched.

As the Star’s Jennifer Pagliaro and Samantha Beattie reported last week, an escalating conflict that began over the purported coalescing around Regent Park and Alexandra Park, urged on by social media postings. That stupid chain was allegedly “snatched” by another rapper, who flaunted the jewelry on a YouTube video. Social media chatter challenged Smart over how he would respond to being “disrespected.”

Smart subsequently posted his own video on June 25, rapping underneath the identifiable awnings of social housing in Regent Park. Also prominently featured in the video was the Atkinson Housing Co-op in Alexandra Park.

How flagrant is the boasting and the dissing and the sinister messaging.

How cheaply they value each othersí lives and their own.

And that’s a corrosive social phenomenon, our collective concern, which has to be addressed, not only in boosted policing announced by Mayor John Tory and Chief Mark Saunders this week, with 200 additional cops deployed as a kind of rapid response team between 7 p.m. and 3 a.m., across neighbourhoods where shootings are most likely to occur. The fly-by-night response isnít unwelcome – I live in one of those neighbourhoods – but it’s a short-term reaction framed by urgency: 26 shooting deaths in 53 Toronto homicides (including 10 killed in Aprilís van rampage on Yonge St.) as of last Sunday; 212 shootings compared to 188 at this time last year.

At least 15 of the victims in homicides that remain unsolved were people of colour.

Eleven people shot, three killed, over the Canada Day long weekend alone.

A warrant was issued Friday for the arrest of Ibrahim Khiar, 32, wanted for second-degree murder and three counts of discharging a firearm endangering life in the Kensington Market July 1 shooting that killed Marcel Teme, bullets striking three bystanders as well. Teme was 19 years old.

I would dearly like to speak with Black Lives Matter leadership about these dreadful events, but there was no response by deadline to requests extended by email and on the organization’s Facebook page.

Finally, a word of sincere advice to teenager Keyshawn Jones and Abdulkadir Handule from Det. Allington: “My message to both of them would be to get in contact with a lawyer and turn yourselves in.”

Twitter: @rdimanno
Copyright 2018-Torstar Syndication Services

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