Coalition holds rally at SIU

Community News & Features Jul 16, 2004 at 10:48 am

TORONTO–At around 1:30 in the afternoon of Wednesday, July 14, a busload of teenagers arrived in front of the headquarters of the Special Investigations Unit in Mississauga. They were soon joined by others from different walks of life in a prayer rally spearheaded by the Justice for Jeffrey Reodica Coalition.

Rally participants carried placards saying “Justice delayed is justice denied” and “Justice for Jeffrey, justice for all!”

Jeffrey Reodica, a 17-year old Grade 11 student of Jean Vanier Catholic School in Scarborough, was fatally shot by subject officer Dan Belanger of the Toronto Police on May 21, 2004. Reodica died three days later in Scarborough General Hospital. The case is now under investigation by the Special Investigations Unit, a civilian law enforcement agency.

The activity commenced under an early afternoon downpour with a recitation of the rosary led by Jeffrey’s mother Flora. The youth committee spokesperson for this rally stated that participants said prayers “to guide” the SIU investigators in their probe of the case.

“What do we want? Justice!” “Filipino youth under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!” These chants punctuated speeches delivered by coalition members and supporters. Passersby honked their horns in support.

Rally organizer Jerry Villanueva recalled the incident and reiterated the objectives of that afternoon’s action: to press for a “fair and honest investigation” into the fatal shooting of the 17-year old.
Protesters demanded that the SIU “give proper weight and value to the testimonies” of the Filipino youth who witnessed the shooting. Groups from other communities extended their support. John Clarke of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) spoke of a police “crackdown on immigrants and people of colour.”

“The police are becoming more trigger-happy,” according to Anna Willats of the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition (TPAC). Jeffrey’s father Willie Reodica was the last to speak, thanking the participants for their support and solidarity.

He expressed frustration at the fact that after almost two months, there is still no explanation for the death of his son. He said the SIU had set a meeting with the family on July 22 to give them a preliminary report on its investigation into Jeffrey’s case. Willie Reodica said, “This is only the beginning” of numerous rallies and actions until the truth is revealed and justice is served.

On June 9, 2004, a Vigil Prayer rally, attended by about 300 people, was held by the Justice for Jeffrey Reodica Coalition at St. Rose of Lima Church on Lawrence Ave. East in Scarborough. Participants marched to the site of the shooting of Reodica on Benleigh Dr., about a block from the church.

Meetings of the youth sector of the Coalition have been held in Scarborough Civic Centre and fund raising events are being planned and organized to support the legal case of the Reodica family.

MITCHIE ESGUERRA