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SFU's Black Caucus and allies call for stronger action after violent arrest on campus

Last Updated Dec 16, 2020 at 11:35 pm PDT

BURNABY (CityNews) — A Black student and faculty caucus have garnered hundreds of signatures demanding a public inquiry into the arrest of a Black alumnus at SFU on Dec. 11.

A recent statement directed at SFU President Dr. Joy Johnson has collected hundreds of signatures and criticizes the university for their response to the incident, where campus security called the RCMP on a Black alumnus in a dining hall at SFU Burnaby.

The signatories demand a “comprehensive public inquiry into the incident and events precipitating it.”

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SFU’s Dr. June Francis is the top signatory in the statement, which says:

“We demand support of the alumnus – a member of our SFU community – in the form of financial reparation, healing supports, and legal representation should he need it. We demand that students’ requests for de-escalation be heard and that conversations between students and SFU be honoured. We demand that the ongoing issue of racial profiling and discrimination at SFU be addressed immediately.”

“We become a threat because of our Black skins, and then we immediately are put to use of force,” Francis tells CityNews.

“We do not trust that the very system that has led to this – SFU security, the SFU apparatus, their policies, and practices – can also be trusted to do a review of itself,” she adds.

Various factions in SFU’s community have also condemned the arrest and the institutional response, including the student union, the African Students’ Association, and the arts and social sciences society.

“First of all, I’m so pleased to see the leadership shown by the student bodies. What I’m worried about is that they continue to bear much of the burden of this. A whole bunch of our young black students now have been targeted online specifically through racist comments, etc.”

When CityNews asked SFU President Dr. Joy Johnson for her reply to the statement, she said in an email:

“I am deeply appreciative of the effort that has gone into this letter and I am listening. I have committed to meeting with the SFU Black caucus in the New Year to discuss their concerns and to find a path forward. I condemn anti-black racism in all forms and recognize that SFU as an institution has work to do to address systemic racism.”

The petition has more than 600 electronic signatures and Francis hopes to see more from all departments.

“I call upon my colleagues and all the people supporting us not to expect this to be a short term investment. If we’re going to get this thing done, we need you to persevere.”