TDSB cancels School Resource Officer program; activist says mayor’s relationship with radical black activists has changed (for the better)

Nov. 23, 2017

The TDSB voted to end the School Resource Officer program, which saw police officers stationed in Toronto schools, on Tuesday night, ending a 10-year program that had come under criticism from community organizations.

The decision comes a week before the mayor’s Executive Committee votes on funding for The Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism. Rodney Diverlus, an organizer for Black Lives Matter Toronto, spoke about the plan in a phone interview with Signal Toronto on Thursday morning.

Diverlus sees a connection between the anti-black racism action plan and council’s decision on the SRO program. “I think with all the mobilization that’s happened in the last couple of years, talking about anti-black racism at all levels has become a priority.

“It’s an important time for all of us – municipal politicians, activists, organizers, organizations, the public – to really be envisioning ways we can be supporting black Torontonians more holistically.”

Mayor John Tory told reporters on Thursday why he supported keeping the program when it was before the police board earlier this year. “I made no bones about my own views,” Tory said. “The reason I supported and continue to support the fact that we should have reviewed the program and made changes to improve it, is because I also took note of the fact that there were many, many other people who appeared in front of the police board, and in the school boards own survey, who said they thought the program was good and it was beneficial, and it made them feel better.”

When asked what he thinks of the mayor’s past support for the program, Diverlus focussed on how Tory has changed since the tent city action outside police headquarters in March 2016. “I think Mayor John Tory has changed his relationship with radical black activists, I think for the better,” Diverlus said. “He’s shifted from criticisms of organizing tactics, or organizers, to actually speaking on the issues specifically. So on the SRO’s he has mentioned his support for the program and his disappointment in the removal of it, but nowhere in that are we seeing him discredit the work that organizers and activists have been doing.”