University of Toronto gender studies professor and social justice activist Beverly Bain says police departments are masculinist and white supremacist institutions that seek to protect property rather than people.
The Canadian scholar, who describes herself as a “Black Radical Queer anti-capitalist feminist revolutionary,” has advocated for the defunding and abolishing of police and prisons.
“The (police) institution is a masculinist institution, white supremacist institution, that facilitates capital and protects capital” said Bain in an interview with True North in advance of an upcoming public lecture she’s giving at Trent University. She added that police protect property rather than people.
Bain believes that “those who are at the forefront of (the) struggle in terms of police violence and anti-black racism have been black radical feminists and black queer trans people.”
Bain works as an Assistant Professor of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga Campus. She teaches black queer diaspora, feminism, anti-racism, decolonialism, diasporic sexualities and gender and police violence in women and gender studies.
She is also the co-founder of the No Pride in Policing Coalition, whose website says is “an antiracist queer and trans group formed to support Black Lives Matter.”
Peterborough’s Trent University will welcome Bain on Mar. 8 for a virtual lecture titled “Still We Refuse! A Conversation on Anti-Black Racism, Police Violence, Feminism and Abolition” as part of the school’s Canadian Studies 50th Anniversary events.
The presentation will focus on “the capitalist, racist and heteromasculinist context that continue to legitimize policing institutions and the on-going collective refusals by activists as we organize and work to create liveable futures.”
“The 2020 uprising ignited by Black Lives Matter in the U.S. that erupted across the globe following the police killing of George Floyd, led to loud demands for defunding and abolition of police,” reads the description for Bains’ Trent event.
It adds that although police and politicians, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, attended BLM protests, a “terrifying backlash” from police and Toronto mayor John Tory has since occurred. “The City (of Toronto) and police escalated its attacks on the homeless and Indigenous peoples in encampments, Blacks, racialized, unhoused, poor and those with mental health issues.”
Tory is proposing to increase Toronto’s police budget by $48.3 million, and officers have been deployed to patrol the city’s transit system amid a concerning rise in crime.
Canada’s largest city has seen a recent increase in violent incidents, including random attacks on subway trains, streetcars and buses.
However, Bain told True North she opposes Tory’s plan, saying “if Toronto was truly interested in keeping people safe, we would begin with care, pour more money into sustainable services.”
“We came out of a lockdown, during the pandemic services were undermined, no money was put into sustainable services,” said Bain, who believes that “beefing up security, oppressing and surveillance are ways to escalate people’s difficult situations.”
“Black people in general don’t feel safe on the subway, police doesn’t make low-income black, Indigenous and people of colour feel safe on the subway,” she added. “Knowing options and the creation of sustainable infrastructures would make them safe, not more policing.”
Criticism of police conduct has been back in the news following Tyre Nichols’ death after he was beaten by five black Memphis police officers. However, the “Defund the Police” narrative has been the subject of broad criticism, ranging from police unions to progressive figures like former U.S. president Barack Obama.
Meanwhile, American cities including New York, Oakland, Baltimore, Minneapolis and Los Angeles, who reduced their police budgets in 2020 in light of the BLM Movement, opted to reinstate millions in police funding amid a spike in crime.
Trent University told True North that it “hosts lectures by a range of visiting scholars each year.”