Saturday marked seven days of round-the-clock protests by the Toronto chapter of Black Lives Matter. The demonstrations began in response to city-sanctioned restrictions on the popular summer event, Afrofest, a non-indictment verdict in the police shooting death of 45-year-old Andrew Loku, as well as the mid-March death of Alex Wetlauffer, who was shot by three police officers. Over the past week, BLM protestors have been joined by members of the Indigenous community as well as a rally to support sexual abuse survivors following Wednesday's acquittal of former Q host Jian Ghomeshi. They have also received support from the Canadian Union of Public Employees and three city councillors.
To cap off Saturday's Black Out day of action, in which hundreds surrounded Toronto Police Headquarters, the organization shared a mixtape with tracks donated by local artists. The Toronto Black City Mixtape: A Love Letter In Song To Black Community features music by Junia T, Ian Kamau, Lido Pimienta, LAL, Spek Won, pHoenix Pagliacci, and more.
"We got permission from all the artists within 24 hours," says radio producer and host Jamaias DaCosta, who put the project together with Rosina Kazi of LAL. "For me, personally, it was an opportunity to contribute—to do something I knew that BLM TO didn't have time to do," she says. "I already had the tracks, because we play a lot of these artists on CIUT, so it was really about reaching out."
Most of these artists are already making music about the issues and experiences that BLM TO is presenting, DaCosta says. "There's one track on there by a very young artist, Nathan Baya, that just broke a few weeks back. It's a very political track, about the closure of the Palisades Media Arts Academy at Jane and Finch. It's speaking to the system failing the community."
Preview the mixtape below. All proceeds will go toward Black Lives Matter Toronto's current efforts, including sustaining the tent city outside of police headquarters and a pending lawsuit against Toronto Police.