#SayHerName support Black women killed in confrontations with police
“Mom, help. Mom, help,” were the final words of the 29-year-old Regis Korchinski-Paquet who died after falling from a Toronto high rise on May 27.
“The family is extremely concerned because in recent times people with mental health distress issues across North America are ending up dead after interactions with the police,” said Toronto human rights lawyer Knia Singh in a press conference.
Police were present at the 24-storey apartment when Korchinski-Paquet fell to death. Her family suspects race had a role to play in their daughter’s death.
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) said in a news release that details of the investigation will not be released to protect the memory of potential witnesses.
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said Korchinski-Paquet was experiencing seizures and the family had required help from police in the last five years.
An Ontario Human Rights Commission report released in 2018 found Black people were involved in 61.5 per cent of all use of force cases that resulted in civilian death, even though they represented only 8.8 per cent of the general Toronto population.
“How can a call for assistance turn into a loss of life? The family wants to ensure camera footage from the hallway is secured by the SIU,” Singh said.
The news of Regis Korchinski-Paquet’s death comes two months and 14 days after the death of a 26-year-old emergency medical technician Breonna Taylor in the U.S.
Taylor was fatally shot and killed by Louisville Metro Police Department officers on March 13. A lawsuit filed on behalf of the victim says Officer Brett Hankinson had a prior history of unnecessary force and corruption within.
The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published a report in August 2019 that shows people of colour are more likely to be killed by police than whites.
The report says researchers expect between 2.4 and 5.4 per cent Black women to be killed by police per 100,000 at current rates.
The death of these women has moved protestors to the streets demanding justice in Canada and the U.S. under #SayHerName.
#SayHerName is a social movement launched by the African American Policy Forum (AAPF) in December 2014. The forum is raising awareness about Black female victims of police brutality and anti-Black violence in the United States.
“There was no outcry, no national outrage in response to her (Taylor’s) death. It wasn’t until what happened to Mr. Floyd that others were seen as an addendum to his death, It has only heightened the purpose of #SayHerName,” said Breea Willingham, a criminal justice associate professor at the State University of New York Plattsburg.
Willingham said prison and police oversight and defunding the police will make sure all people, especially Black women and Black men, are treated fairly.