Toronto activist Moka Dawkins released from police custody after protests from anti-racism groups
TORONTO -- Toronto activist Moka Dawkins has been released from police custody on bail following public outcry from community members and anti-racism groups who demanded her release.
Police say Dawkins, a trans woman and activist known for her work within the sex workers’ and prisoners’ rights movement, has been charged with assault, uttering threats of bodily harm and failure to comply with probation, after a dispute occurred between two individuals inside a residence.
News of her arrest began to spread on social media late Thursday afternoon, and calls for support were quickly sent out among activist groups. Demonstrators soon gathered outside Toronto Police Service’s 14 Division where they chanted and marked up posters until early the next day. Demonstrations continued throughout most of Friday until Dawkins was released.
According to people at the demonstration, it was Dawkins’ roommate who made the call and “weaponized police against her” during a civil dispute, though police have not verified this claim due to privacy restrictions.
“It was so shameful,” one demonstrator said to a crowd of people. “She [the roommate] used her positioning to inflict violence against a Black trans woman.”
Instances of Black people having the police called on them for leisurely activities like birdwatching or selling lemonade have been well documented on social media, with activists pointing to the potential danger a move like this could pose to Black people.
Dawkins was formerly incarcerated and served close to four years for manslaughter in two Toronto jails. In 2015, she was arrested for killing her friend and client in what she claims was an act of self-defence. Her case has come under heavy scrutiny and Dawkins continues to speak out about her alleged mistreatment at the hands of prison guards and other inmates.
She was received by a crowd of supporters outside the police division on Friday following her release. Using a large megaphone, Dawkins thanked the crowd for their display of support.
“The struggle still goes on for many people,” she said. “We need to continuously stick together.”
Dawkins was released on bail with a new set of conditions. A hearing for her case will take place near the beginning of October.