Community rallies together following anti-Black hate crime in Toronto: ‘It has to stop’|BCI CANADA
Community members are rallying together in response to an anti-Black racist hate crime that happened at a construction site at Michael Garron Hospital, where two nooses were placed in areas at which two Black workers were stationed.
The nooses were found on the morning of June 10 by the two Black workers who were starting their shifts, according to EllisDon, the construction company that's building a patient care tower for Michael Garron Hospital.
The Toronto Police Service says it's investigating the incident as a hate crime, and EllisDon says it's hired a Toronto-based law firm to conduct another independent investigation.
"I was horrified. It actually made me feel physically ill," Rima Berns-McGown, MPP of Beaches–East York, said of the incident.
"Somebody who does this knows exactly what they're doing."
Last week, Berns-McGown and Toronto–Danforth MPP Peter Tabuns penned an open letter to the Toronto police chief, as well as to Michael Garron Hospital's and EllisDon's CEOs.
The letter challenged all parties to follow through on responding to the hate crime and on addressing racism.
"We need to know that the police are following through on their investigation with haste and purpose," the letter read.
"We also want to know how Michael Garron Hospital and EllisDon Construction are each supporting the Black and other racialized construction workers at the site."
Berns-McGown told Global News the letter was intended to make sure that the police, hospital and construction company take the incident seriously.
"At construction sites, people die," Berns-McGown said. "You rely on your colleagues to keep you alive and safe."
On Thursday, EllisDon president and CEO Geoff Smith responded to Berns-McGown's and Tabuns' letter, outlining a list of actions the company is taking to support its racialized employees and to combat racism.
"We have an employee assistance program available to all employees, including those at the affected project site," Smith said in the letter.
"In addition to this, we have created an internal anti-racism group to discuss next steps for developing a company-wide action plan that will make our job sites safer and more inclusive."
Smith also said EllisDon has asked the Toronto law firm conducting an internal investigation to provide recommendations and additional steps to support employees and to address anti-Black racism.
On Friday, Michael Garron Hospital president and CEO Sarah Downey said she is "absolutely disgusted and appalled" by the hate crime.
"We are doing everything we can to support EllisDon and Toronto Police in their investigation," Downey said in a statement.
Toronto police confirmed that numerous officers have been assigned to the case and that investigators are taking statements in relation to the hate crime.