Desmond Cole, Toronto Star columnist, Newstalk 1010 host and staff writer at Torontoist, quit the Toronto Star in the service of what he called “Black liberation.”
Cole made his decision following a meeting with Andrew Philips, the Toronto Star’s editorial page editor, who told him that he “violated the Star’s rules on journalism and activism” when he disrupted Toronto Police Services Board Meeting on April 20th, 2017. Cole slammed the board members for failing to destroy carding data and refused to leave the speaker’s chair.
“Our policies state that Star journalists must avoid participation in demonstrations or signing of petitions, including online petitions and social media campaigns. Further, “editorial employees” must “avoid active participation in community organizations and pressure groups that take positions on public issues,” wrote Kathy English, Toronto Star’s Public Editor. “It was only when Cole became the story by his protest at the police board that he took his activism to a new level that became of concern to the Star.”
English clarified that “Cole was not fired by the Star, as some have suggested, nor disciplined or threatened with any consequences. Phillips apprised Cole of the Star’s policies and told him he hoped he would stay on as a freelance columnist. Unfortunately, Cole chose not to.”
In a statement on his Facebook page, Desmond Cole criticized the editorial policy of the Toronto Star and explained his motives. The following are excerpts from Cole’s Facebook post (May 4, 2017):
I’m leaving the Toronto Star so I can better serve my community… I knew my police protest was activism, and I could have guessed the Star wouldn’t appreciate it… If I must choose between a newspaper column and the actions I must take to liberate myself and my community, I choose activism in the service of Black liberation…
Although I was recently warned about my actions, the Star’s leadership has previously warned me about its limited appetite for my very political and unapologetically Black voice. In April of 2016, John Honderich, the chair of Torstar Corp., who was also serving as the Star’s acting publisher at that time, asked to meet with me. Honderich suggested I was writing about race too often, and advised me to diversify my topics. The next day I published a piece in support of Yusra Khogali, a Black Lives Matter Toronto c-founder who was the subject of a racist, Islamophobic campaign to distract from her activism. It was the most popular piece I wrote all year—my editor contacted me to congratulate me on its reach.
The Star invests heavily in reporters whose excellent work inspires much of my commentary on anti-Black racism and white supremacy in Canada. Yet it seems the Star is reluctant to invest in columnists who relentlessly name these racial power imbalances, who call out the political and institutional forces responsible for white supremacy and Black suffering. This is bad news for emerging local Black journalists and journalism students, most of whom are Black women and many of whom tell me they are also being shunned, not for their actions but for their radical and emancipatory content… In love, rage, and Black power. Desmond Cole.
A day later, Cole wrote on Facebook the following:
“Remember, this is all happening because Black people refuse to bow down to the police and, more importantly, to the politicians who keep allowing police to hurt us. In love and solidarity, we will keep standing against police brutality until we are all free.”
Desmond Cole accuses the Police of “murdering” people “without apology.” Lainey [email protected]_99 tweeted on July 6, 2016: [email protected] @mikeuhrig44 The outcome would have been the same if he was black,white,green or pink. Nothing to do with race. GTF over it.”
[email protected]_99 @mikeuhrig44 True. Our police murder people of every racial and ethnic background without apology. The struggle continues.”
Desmond Cole stood by Yusra Khogali, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Toronto chapter movement, who was recently in hot water after writing a tweet asking Allah for strength to sustain her will to murder “white folks”. “Plz. Allah Give Me Strength not to cuss/kill these men and White Folks out here today. Plz plz plz,” she tweeted on February 9, 2016.
In an op-ed on the Toronto Star “Don’t mistake responses to violence for violence itself” (April 7, 2016), Cole justified Khogali’s tweet explaining is was an expression of “wisdom in the face of violence, racism, and misogyny.” The following is an excerpt from Cole’s article:
“This ability to respond to state-sanctioned aggression with peaceful resistance is beautiful and rare. Yet a BLMTO [Black Lives Matter Toronto Ontario] organizer is being labelled a racist, violent person because she publicly prayed for the strength not to harm those who harm her. Yusra Khogali’s tweet asking, “Allah, give me the strength not to cuss/kill these men and white folks out here,” is the opposite of a call to violence — it is an honest appeal to restraint and wisdom in the face of violence, racism, and misogyny. Black Lives Matter is very clearly all about love, even though it is borne out of anger and despair. But asking organizers to challenge systemic oppression in a way that does not offend or frighten an indifferent public is itself a form of violence.”
Yusra Khogali’s posts on Facebook – expression of “love”?
In recent years Khogali expressed her views on the “KKK” nature of the Canadian federal government and the establishment and the Police of committing a deliberate “genocide” of blacks. The following are some excerpts from Khogali’s posting on Facebook:
November 11, 2015 – “The kkkanadian government deliberately works to criminalize black ppl for the white supremacist conditions they have created to deplete our health in totality and corrode the quality of our lives with so many barriers against our survival to an impossible standard of living. It’s almost like dying while trying to breathe. And then… find a way to tell a narrative of victim blaming us while essentially killing us as OUR problem.”
April 30, 2015 – “CANADA HAS ONE OF THE LARGEST PRISON POPULATIONS IN THE WORLD! THE WAR ON DRUGS AND INVESTMENTS IN PRIVATE PRISON CORPORATIONS CREATES A DEMAND THAT TARGETS BLACK AND INDIGENOUS BODIES TO FILL THOSE PRISONS. It’s fucking simple. STOP CARDING. STOP TAVIS. STOP RACIST STATE SANCTIONED VIOLENCE… KKKANADA to AMERIKKKA the system is the same and viciously persists.”
December 8, 2014 – “Toronto let’s speak on our stories of anti black violence. Our struggles should never be silenced so KKKanada can maintain it’s innocence. The very premise of this state is inherent racism – and the state sanctioned violence that systematically targets black people for existing in their black skins is real. We are not here for one event revolutions the system persists so we should constantly and persistently resist.”
August 6, 2015 – “The police BROKE this womxn’s arm… on top of that without any notice and months after being brutalized by these pigs she finds out that she has two criminal charges laid against her.”
July 24, 2015 – “BLACK PEOPLE ARE LIVING IN A STATE OF EMERGENCY. I REPEAT: BLACK PEOPLE ARE LIVING. IN. A.STATE.OF.EMERGENCY. WE ARE LIVING A CONSTANT FEAR AND THREAT OF BEING PHYSICALLY EXTERMINATED FOR EXISTING IN BLACK SKIN. THIS IS GENOCIDE… THE TORONTO POLICE SERVICES IS ANTI-BLACK…. THE TORONTO POLICE ARE TERRORIZING BLACK FOLKS ON A DAILY… THE TORONTO POLICE SERVICES ARE A TERRORIST ORGANIZATION. THATS REAL… WE PAY THESE MUTHERFUCKERS.”
May 21, 2015 – “The state is waging a genocide on black womxn and girls. If they are not murdering us on the street, raping us, pushing us further into poverty and then criminalizing us, they are fetishizing us. Appropriating us, stealing from us, exploiting our labour our culture, our music, our bodies our lingo our swag our knowledge and intellect, our essence our BEING, viciously abusing us in totality in every means possible. Black womxn are NOT an add on in resisting racist violence by the state understanding their positionally is CENTRAL in dismantling it.”
December 22, 2015 – “Black womxn and girls not exceptional victims of anti-black state sanctioned violence and injustice in their murders …they are perpetual victims. the compounded violence that is everyday lived experience of violence that goes lethal too often by police. the vicious trauma and psychic violence experienced for existing in their bodies in the presence of police because of how often we die by their guns …. this is what it means to be living under seige – under white supremacist terrorism.”
June 17, 2014 – “Black patriarchy is validated as authentic in the paradigm and gaze of white supremacist patriarchy through the dehumanization and disrespect of black womyn and the sexual domination of white womyn.”
December 30, 2015 – “black babies will never be afforded the innocence of childhood… black youth are forced to grow up under white supremacist terrorism… they will be demonized, criminalized, lethally brutalized with the intensity of harsh anti-black violence like they are adults… how many black children have their murderers walk free. walk back into their homes… as killers… no one will weep. no one will see that black babies blood oil the cogwheels of this system.”
June 7, 2014 – “Derailing black feminine rage as irrational/primitive is an anti-black racist patriarchal construct… Constructive rage is a powerful tool in creating movements of resistance and social change that interrupts and resists reductionist ideas of intersectional racial inferiority.”
January 28, 2016 – “Black Lives Matter-Toronto Coalition is looking for a black graphic designer to design our Black Lives Matter Toronto website.”
March 31, 2016 – “If ur a black photographer and are available tonight from 7-10pm we need you at #blmtotentcity for something dope. Plz pm me for details n share this if u know someone!”