The sound of a man yelling erupted from the street. He was in a spotless Volkswagen Jetta, braying at oncoming drivers -- with the black barrel of a handgun resting on the driver's side window. I couldn't quite make out the faces of the drivers who took turns, with rather acute discomfort, as his target.
I've been to too many funerals of young murder victims and held too many grieving mothers, fathers and friends to fail to do everything I can about gun violence. I have been, and continue to be, a passionate advocate for changes that can greatly reduce gun violence in this province -- and across Canada.
Barely a day goes by in Toronto, or any large city, without some reminder of the pain and damage caused by gun violence. While most agree it's a serious issue, the best way to address it remains a topic of considerable debate. Do we need more police? Better grass-roots community programs? Stricter gun control laws? In this latest installment of our popular series "Change My Mind," Huffpost asked two panelists from today's Direct Engagement Show "Putting the gunz down" town hall to debate the statement: Government can solve Toronto's gun violence problem.
On a recent radio segment, Doug Ford boldly proclaimed, "There's no one that helps black youth more than Rob Ford," followed by, "These are kids who have nothing." If Mayor Ford really does hold the view that the black youths he helps have "nothing" without his football program, he is only furthering the sentiment that no matter how hard black people and communities work, they still have "nothing" if their hard work and perseverance is not supported by a white saviour.
The mainstream media outlets can trot out their sociologists and university professors and talk about programs for at-risk youth and gun control and disintegration of the nuclear family but the indelible image of grieving families, usually black and poor, are what stand out. And no amount of social programs or government money is going to stop it.
In 2007, Kofi Hope was made a Rhodes Scholar. This year, he returned to Toronto with a newly minted PhD from Oxford. He reflects on the latest tragedy at the Eaton Centre as well as looks at potential solutions to help curb what is becoming an often occurrence in the GTA.
The Eaton Centre shooting this past weekend is not the first time Toronto has been faced with such angst. Yet despite the latest violent outburst, our city remains a safe place. We're very lucky to live in Toronto; in comparison to many other urban centres in North America, crime and violence rarely touch us.
Depending on who you listen to, last weekend's shooting spree at Toronto's Eaton Centre was a sign of gun violence getting out of control, or an isolated "incident" in North America's safest large city. But the fact of the matter is there have been 134 shootings this year, and Toronto police still refuse to help the public by profiling the criminals.
In a world in which I am dying to be invisible, it is sad to note this one seems to be yet another black-on-black crime that takes one to the deadly summer of 2005 -- the "Summer of the Gun" where the number of shootings were very high, and the role of gangs in our streets. Is the incident at the Eaton Centre an isolated incident?
Canada is showing up in U.S. news media reports more than usual these days, and the stories suggest that a crime wave is underway. The lurid reports of feet and limbs being mailed to political party offices in Ottawa, and the recent food court shooting at Toronto's Eaton Centre, have fueled that perception.