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Interview with organizer of the March for Black lives in Hamilton

July 8, 2020

There has been a series of demonstrations in Hamilton calling for an end to racism and to defund the police. Socialist Worker spoke with Amani Williams - an organizer of the March for Black Lives in Hamilton about the demands and goals of the movement.

You organized the demos in Dundurn and Hamilton - What were the demands of the events?

There are a few demands. We are talking about getting police to wear body cams. We know that they hide the real amount of brutality against black people and the data is skewed but maybe if a 3rd party looked at the police body cams we could at least know what’s going on in the city with the police. Right now we don't know. Black people can’t trust the police. There is no transparency.

We are also calling for defunding the police. They have too much money and there is no effort to help people out in the city. All the money goes to police but not to helping people who are homeless. If people got help there would be less need for the police.

They are going to have to get on board - for once they should be afraid. What happened with George Floyd is one of many thousands have been victimized. The world is bubbling - we can’t deal with this. The cops need to feel scared - they need to fall in line because were not going to take it any more.

We also want to end racism in the workplace and in education. One of the main things is to bring about education for people. It’s important to talk about anti-racism in the workplace to teach co-workers in the workplace and to deal with racism where people work.

There was a demonstration in Toronto that talked about racism towards students in the school system. What do we need to do to use education to stop racism.

Education in the school system now means black people don’t get to learn about who we are. They only talk about slavery which is only a small part of who we are.  There are lots of other elements to the history. Black people have a proud history in Canada.

There is implicit racism in the school system itself. Black history month is only 30 days and we don’t even learn much then. We need to use the 30 days properly.

Racism is intertwined in our society - it is hard to dismantle it. The question of racism is so complex we need to work on it all the time and do more education. The rally on Saturday was only 3 hours.  - I’ve had 23 years of dealing with racism. We need more than just one rally for people to learn. It’s a never ending battle.

We want people to stop seeing black people as criminals. They’re even going after bird watchers. We want people to see us as human. We just want people to be equal - equality for me is walking down the street or in a store that nobody is watching me. Equality means when I apply for a job that I don’t feel like it is necessary to use my middle name cause it sounds like a white name. Equality means we don’t have black people incarcerated at a higher rate that white people. We need a world like that.

The demonstrations are educating people about these issues which means if you were ignorant before now there is no excuse.

What are the next steps for you and the movement in Hamilton?

Our next steps to gain connection with other black organizations doing work - those who have a foot in the political world. We want to do a round table to see who do we need to pressure to defund the police and to get racists out of the city.

Not enough to be anti-racist but actively working against racism - you have to confront the racists - nobody who works with the public should be allowed to act in a racist way.

It was great to have some of the older activists help out but we figured out how to make it happen. We were posting posters in the middle of the night to get as many people out.

We had enough people who said they were going to continue to come out. If it comes to teaching people to be anti-racist I can do that all day. The kids who came out were great - we want to do a kids corner for next time so lots of people can come out.

Within the next two weeks were rounding up the group that came together to do it again. With new groups and more people and different artists and we want speakers who speak about what we are about.

We also need to connect with indigenous people because there is a connection between black people and Indigenous people who know what it’s really all about. We are calling for no more stolen sisters and black lives matter


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