Aug 11, 2022
Protecting team and community members from harassment and violence
As a food justice nonprofit organization we want more crops, not more cops. We want more community care and more meaningful investments in social supports, not more carceral violence. That’s why we felt it was important to share our internal policy on police engagement.
Since September 2020, FoodShare has had a policy in place to guide decision making when presented with opportunities to engage with police throughout the delivery of our programs and social enterprises.
Our approach is aligned with our commitments to social, and in particular racial justice, and our statement on defunding the police, which says:
“What we need in Toronto is leadership that can initiate an immediate reduction in the immense police violence that targets people most marginalized by the system, and works towards the abolition of the modern police force and prison systems.
Increased police presence, which includes TTC inspectors and enforcement officers, does not keep us safe, rather it threatens the lives of communities who have already been made vulnerable (BIPOC, the LGBTQ2S+ community, unhoused people, street-based sex workers, people with disabilities, people experiencing poverty, etc.). Instead of investing in policing, our city must prioritize alternatives like investing in better food access, education, increased mental health services, housing initiatives, income security, harm reduction services, accessible rehabilitation, mutual aid, conflict resolution services, transformative justice, and other vital community-based support systems.”
Our policy for police engagement (outlined below) was designed to protect our team members and the community members we work with from police harassment and violence as much as we possibly can.
FoodShare is a food justice organization, advocating for the right to food, and working to challenge the systemic barriers that keep people from accessing the food they need to thrive. At FoodShare, we deliver organic food box and fresh produce box in Downtown Toronto!
At FoodShare this looks like:
- Supporting staff who ask police to leave a community space when FoodShare programming is happening in that space.
- Providing training for staff who supervise others on how to engage with police when they come on-site as part of an investigation.
- Not accepting group volunteering requests from Toronto Police Services, RCMP, CBSA, Military, or any other armed securitization force.
- Not applying for funding that requires partnership or collaboration with a local police force.
- Not partnering with a police force on a community initiative.
- Not inviting police to attend a community event.
- Proceeding with caution when invited to participate in a community-run event that will have police presence.
- Having open conversations with community partners, funders, and program users about the racist history of policing and its effects on BIPOC, low income, queer, and disabled communities.
- Sharing our statement on defunding police with community partners and funders when conversations about policing arise.
What you can do:
- Consider your own communities. Think about where you work, volunteer, spend time. Start by thinking critically about how community members engage with police. Ask: can we carry out the activities in this community from a perspective that centres racial justice and the abolishment of oppressive systems like prisons and policing?
- Use your influence. Get involved with the committees in your spaces who set guidelines, or approach those in positions of leadership to develop a policy or set of guidelines that centre racial justice and abolition
- Join the conversation. Seek out perspectives from abolitionists from your community, doing work where you live and that intersects with your areas of interest.
- Attend our upcoming panel on the links between food justice and police abolition – Food & Freedom: Dreaming Food Just Futures Through Prison Abolition, happening September 29, 2022.
- Commit to continuing to learn. Check out resources about abolition, including where it intersects with food justice. The list below is a place to start.
Food Sovereignty and Abolition: A Public Roundtable
“Incarceration, Abolition, and Liberating the Food System” by Ashanté Reese
“Overthrowing the food system’s plantation paradigm” by Ashanté Reese & Randolph Carr
“Radical Farmers Use Fresh Food to Fight Racial Injustice in the New Jim Crow” by Leah Penniman
“Stewards: Community Gardens as Safe Havens” with Traci Nottingham, Sheryll Durrant and FoodShare’s Director of Programs and Advocacy Katie German written by The Bentway
Abolitionist Organization Takes on Maryland’s Food System
Abolition is a Collective Vision: An Interview with Mariame Kaba