Filipino-Canadians condemn killing of Filipino youth in Toronto

Community News & Features Jun 16, 2004 at 1:19 pm

(Statement on the Jeffrey Reodica case)

FILIPINO community groups in Canada condemn the shooting of 17 year-old Jeffrey Reodica by a Toronto police officer on May 21, 2004 that resulted in his death on May 24. Jeffrey was shot three times in the back after he and his friends were stopped by two plainclothes police officers.

While the Filipino community in Canada mourns and tries to grapple with the senseless death of Jeffrey, we are outraged at the brutality that he suffered in the hands of a Toronto police officer. As Filipino-Canadian youth become prime targets of the stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination embedded in Canadian institutions, the future of our already-marginalized community is, once again, under attack. The fatal shooting of Jeffrey exemplifies the escalating violence against Filipino youth in Canada.

The continuing struggle of youth of colour against racist attacks by the Toronto police is a growing concern amongst visible minority groups in the city. Youth of colour have been targets of police harassment and brutality, a glaring testimony to the police department’s long history of racial profiling that blames and criminalizes people of colour.

The killing of Jeffrey Reodica comes after the death of another Filipino youth in Vancouver in November 2003. Mao Jomar Lanot was mauled and killed by a larger group of youth at Sir Charles Tupper Secondary School. The banning of Filipino youth at Scarborough Town Centre in 1993, hate graffiti and physical violence against 25 Filipino youth at Vancouver Technical Secondary School in 1999, and the continuing harassment and labeling of Filipino youth as gangs by police in Montreal, clearly demonstrate a history of racist attacks on our community and the racial profiling of Filipino youth. And the youth suffer more from these intensifying attacks as these go unchecked, and are even condoned by the enforcers of “law and order.”

Everyday, thousands of Filipinos leave the Philippines to come to countries like Canada due to the worsening economic and political situation in the Philippines. We seek a better life and opportunities for our families and ourselves in Canada. However, reality bites when we, as immigrants and as people of colour, come face to face with the violence of daily exploitation and oppression. As our community struggles against the alarming violence now increasingly upon us, we can no longer turn a blind eye to the racism and violence so ingrained and so endemic in the prevailing system.

The criminalization and harassment of Filipino-Canadian youth constitute a violation of their human rights. The destructive impact of systemic and personal racism directed against Filipino-Canadians jeopardizes our community’s future, strongly disregards our cries for justice, and dismisses our valuable contributions to Canadian society. It contributes to the further segregation of our growing community, being the fourth largest immigrant group in Canada. We must therefore continue to educate and organize our community, unite with other peoples and communities of colour and win over the other marginalized and affected sectors of the Canadian populace to challenge and dare to transform those very institutions that oppress us. (June 14, 2004)

• Filipino Workers’ Support Committee
• Philippine Network for Justice and Peace
• Philippine Solidarity Group of Toronto
• Philippine Women Centre of Ontario
• The Organizing Committee for a Filipino-Canadian Youth Network
• B.C. Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
• Filipino Nurses Support Group
• Philippine Women Centre of B.C.
• Ugnayan ng Kabataang Pilipino sa Canada / Filipino-Canadian Youth Alliance
• Centre for Philippine Concerns
• Filipino Workers Support Group
• Kabataang Montreal
• Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
• Pilipinong Migrante sa Canada
• Manitoba Centre for Philippine Concerns

For further information call Joy at 416-878-8772.