On Tuesday, hundreds of people gathered in Kingston for a Black Lives Matter vigil in McBurney Park. It was a peaceful demonstration showing anti-Black racism exists — not only in the United States but in Canada, as well.
A global call for justice after the death of George Floyd has raised more awareness on racism.
Floyd is the 46 year-old Black man who was killed in Minneapolis, Minn., after a white police officer was filmed kneeling on his neck during an arrest. The video of his death sparked outrage across the globe, which has incited protests and vigils across the country, including in Kingston, Ont.
Now, members of the local Kingston Black community want people to know that Kingston is not immune to racism.
“I think there are a lot of people in Kingston in the Black community who deal with racism on a regular basis and it can feel very isolating at times,” said Kristin Moriah, an associate professor at Queen’s University.
Moriah also helped organize Tuesday’s vigil.
“I wanted to find a way to remember the victims of police brutality and mourn their loss,” says Moriah.
She hopes that events like these will mobilize the community when it comes to combating racism.
“Maybe that’s something as simple as speaking out against racism when you see it being perpetrated with your friends and neighbours,” says Moriah.
Greg Cox, a nurse for Corrections Canada, spoke with Global News, saying he’s experienced racism first-hand growing up in Kingston.
While recalling a previous racist attack, Cox says, “A guy came out of his truck, started yelling obscenities, the N-word, saying, ‘I’m going to come to your house and put a burning cross on your lawn.'”
Cox says he was unharmed during this incident, but can recall several other racist experiences he’s had in the past.
“I feel liked and loved and respected by a lot of people but it hasn’t always been that way for others,” Cox said.
Vigil organizers say the event was just the first step in a local effort to put an end to anti-Black racism.
“To see the crowd turn out to stand together with people who are committed to acting in anti racist principles really meant a lot,” says Moriah.