January 2022 Discussion Paper

Expanding the Policing and Prison Industrial Complex: Containing Cities and Privatizing Public Space through Surveillance, Criminalization, and Financialized Racial Capitalism


Jamie Magnusson, No Pride in Policing Coalition Adult Education and Community Development OISE, University of Toronto


Beverly Bain, Co-Founder, No Pride in Policing Coalition Department of Historical Studies University of Toronto Mississauga Campus

A paper prepared for the No Pride in Policing Coalition, January 2022.
We would like to acknowledge the invaluable assistance of Ian Tian, Paris Honoria, Rebekah Lowe, and Katherine Snell.

A paper prepared for the No Pride in Policing Coalition, January 2022.
We would like to acknowledge the invaluable assistance of Ian Tian, Paris Honoria, Rebekah Lowe, and Katherine Snell.

For Immediate Release Contact:

Expanding the Policing and Prison Industrial Complex: Containing Cities and Privatizing Public Space through Surveillance, Criminalization, and Financialized Racial Capitalism


We wrote this discussion document in response to our perception that the surveillance/police state has become horrifyingly intensified within these past two years. We feel that that there are several interconnected elements to the severe escalation in police state surveillance, carceration and violence. These elements have to do with how ‘cities’ are being shaped as hubs for global finance capital, but also the continuing role of the carceral state in land dispossession for extractive industries. This discussion piece is meant to clarify some of these interconnections and hopefully assist community organizing efforts.

Provincial and Municipal Police Funding

The Province of Ontario recently announced a budget of $75.1 million to fight ‘guns and gangs’ in Ontario and establish the Office of Illicit Drug Intelligence to disrupt the flow of illegal drugs into the province. There are plans to create a ‘mobile prosecution team’ specializing in guns and gangs that will prosecute major cases the moment charges are laid. The three-year budget will also support: specialized investigations involving guns, a province-wide joint analytics working group that will share information on gun and gang activity, Border Enforcement Security Teams, Joint Forces Operations to formalize intelligence collaborations, and developing a data base.

News Ontario (link) notes that $187 million has already been invested in the “Guns, Gangs and Violence Reduction Strategy” in Ontario since 2018. ​

The recent announcement follows other significant increases to police budgets, including $307 million dollars to implement the Anti-Human Trafficking 5-year Strategy beginning in 2020. The 5-Year Strategy promises to significantly expand police powers and intelligence gathering and will extend the reach of the carceral state into social services dealing with Black, Indigenous and racialized youth. As noted by NPPC, Butterfly and Maggie’s, this strategy significantly intensifies criminalization of sex workers, including undocumented workers, Asian massage parlour workers, Black and racialized and queer/trans sex workers as well as unhoused Black and Indigenous and racialized queer/trans and 2 spirited youth. At the same time, the Missing Persons Review received a boost to its budget from $3 to $4 million dollars, only to conclude that Toronto Police Services require more funding in the future if they are to adequately follow up on ‘missing persons’ (please refer to  the NPPC response to this report, written in collaboration with Maggie’s, ). The Province has also announced a $267 million dollar grant program to help local police ‘combat crime’. According to the provincial news media “Through the CSP Grant program, eligible police services are provided with funding to support the implementation of public safety and community policing initiatives that focus on local and provincial priorities such as community outreach programs, human trafficking and guns and gang violence.” (source).

Without Municipal monies, the Ontario budget for guns and violence we can trace so far:

$75,100,000 guns and gangs

$187,000,000 minus $75.1 million = $112 million so far since 2018

$267,000,000 grant program, focus on local and provincial priorities such as community outreach programs, human trafficking and guns and gang violence

$307,000,000 anti-human trafficking strategy over 5 years

Thus, without searching too vigorously we can see that the Province of Ontario has already set aside much more in its budget than $75.1 million. The figure over a five-year period is more like $761,000,000. 

This figure is much higher if municipal monies are factored in. Reports indicate almost $2 million in City of Toronto funds were spent removing people from encampments in summer 2021 (source). This does not include the amounts used by the City of Hamilton in its attack on unhoused people at the encampment site and the brutal violent police arrest of two young Black males and one Black female activist with disabilities. Moreover, there are items for which we do not know the budget source at this time, such as drones and helicopters, private security and the Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario. Most recently the Toronto Police Services released its operating budget request for 2022, showing a 2.3% increase over last year.

The local Ontario war against ‘guns and gangs’ is organized federally by Bill Blair as a racist war on Black and Indigenous and racialized communities in this country. The war is also directly connected to the settler colonial invasion and extractivism organized by Coastal Gaslink Pipeline, the RCMP and the Canadian Pacific Railway Police in Wet’suwet’en. The Government of Canada’s Public Safety Bureau has set aside millions of dollars to transfer to provinces and territories to fight Gun and Gang Violence as noted in the following “Quick Facts”:

The ‘guns and gangs’ initiative is racialized capitalism and imperialism at work in furthering the prison industrial complex. The initiative resonates strongly with the U.S. ICE initiative ‘Operation Community Shield’ as explained further in the paper. As such the ‘Guns and Gangs’ initiative will further militarize Canadian borders and will criminalize those seeking refuge.


This brief report on behalf of NPPC provides a composite of the recent escalation of policing and militarization with its forms of technology and surveillance mechanisms and the unprecedented expansion of police budgets and intelligence apparatus within Ontario. We argue that these escalations are not unique to Ontario, but rather are in line with international military and financial policies centering Urban Warfare as new imperialism organized as ‘complex security capitalism’. 


Before unpacking ‘complex security capitalism’ the next section reviews the recent and horrifying escalation in police killings and police state violence. If the increased budgets announced by the province are intended to reduce gun violence in Ontario, the following section reveals that police are in fact primary perpetrators escalating gun killings.

The Escalation in Police Killings

The recent budget increases, new legislations and emboldened policing practices are producing escalations in police state violence. In Canada alone, pandemic summers 2020 and 2021 saw a horrifying escalation in police brutality and police homicide. In 2020, Justice for Regis: Not Another Black Life was a grass roots movement organized in the wake of 29 year old Regis Korchinski-Paquet’s fall to her death after police entered an apartment responding to a call for a ‘wellness check’. At a moment when Black communities internationally were rebelling against anti-Black racist policing in response to the videoed homicide of George Floyd, solidarity rebellions erupted across Canada. Scholar Strike Canada, in support of the rebellion and Scholar Strike (U.S.), organized a two-day teach-in on abolition of police, prisons and all forms of carceral institutions. The action likewise addressed the role of police in Indigenous land dispossession by criminalizing Indigenous Land Back Defenders. The No Pride in Policing Coalition (NPPC) organized rallies, public pedagogies and marches in solidarity with No More Silence, Encampment Supporters, Harm Reduction Organizers, Sex Worker organizations such as Maggie’s and Butterfly, Black Lives Matter, Trans Pride Toronto, Converge (a police abolition organization), Indigenous Land Back Defenders, and more. In May 2020, the year that protestors burned down the third precinct in Minnesota, Desmond Cole paid heart felt tribute to 28 Black and Indigenous and racialized lives lost to police violence in Canada since 2013 in the following blog (2013 was the year 18 year old Sammy Yatim was gunned down by police): (source).

A CBC report first created in 2018 and updated to the end of June 2020 shows that the numbers of police killings have risen steadily over the past 20 years, even when correcting for population growth. Black and Indigenous people are disproportionately represented among the fatalities compared to their share in overall population. Moreover, mental health and substance issues factored into the majority of cases (source). This latter point reveals how the biomedical complex -- and particularly psychiatry -- is organized as a site to criminalize (queer/trans) Black, Indigenous and racialized people and to justify state terror through arrests, handcuffing, tasers and gun violence (see Maynard, 2017 for an excellent history of anti-Black police violence in Canada).  From 2018 to June 2020 there were 97 fatalities in the CBC police killings database. RCMP had the highest numbers followed by Toronto and Montreal police services. During 2020 and 2021 (to this date, November 21, 2021), there have been over 70 police killings. 
Government of Canada 2020 statistics show 743 homicides and 277 homicides by gun shootings. Despite an overall increase in homicides, statistics reveal that homicides due to gang-related murders decreased in by ten percent. Moreover, the crime severity index for 2020 decreased by eight percent. The crime severity index measures the frequency and severity of police-reported crime in Canada. Meanwhile, a significant factor contributing to the increase in 2020 homicides was the mass murder of 22 people in Nova Scotia by one white cis-gendered man on a rampage. Hence, even as Ontario is representing ‘guns and gangs’ and ‘human trafficking (read: sex work)’ as the ‘evil’ requiring eradication, the statistics reveal systemic anti-Black and anti-Indigenous and racist police state killings as the culprit requiring eradication through defunding, dismantling and abolishing policing and all policing institutions.
Table 1 (below) shows 41 police killings in 2020. 
Table 1: Police Killings in Canada
1900 to 1969: 1970 to 1979: 1980 to 1989: 1990 to 1999: 2000 to 2009: 2010 to 2019: 2019: 2020: 2021:
36 to date
Sourced From

Note: the Wikipedia stats depart somewhat from the CBC data base but not significantly. There appear to be some differences in how police murders are counted. However, both data bases show spikes in numbers of killings from 2019 to the present.
The call for defunding and abolishing policing and all policing institutions is simultaneously a call to redirect these funds into communities that have experienced three decades of neoliberal disinvestment and ‘austerity’ economic policies. These policies have eroded public and civic infrastructure including public housing, education, health and community programs serving Black, Indigenous and racialized communities. Abolition activists are calling for the creation of transformative networks of sustainable and collective forms of mutual care. Community safety requires affordable housing, food sovereignty, access to health for women and queer/trans folks, community-informed education, and democratic participation in municipal budgets. Capitalist policing practices rooted in histories of plantation economics and colonialism need to be dismantled immediately (see Walcott, 2021a; 2021b).
The decision by the Province and Federal Government to increase police and militarization budgets across the country signals a clear backlash to the Black and Indigenous uprisings that occurred two years ago. The time to stop this provincial and cross-canada military build-up is now. It is not too late. Our collective survival depends on a sustainable abolition movement across Turtle Island.
The next two sections outline a global mandate to “innovate cities” that calls us to take immediate and sustained coordinated action against ‘complex security capitalism’ as internationally coordinated urban imperialism. Capitalist imperialism, historically organized at the level of nation state, is currently increasingly organized at the level of ‘the city’ as international finance institutes, nation states and the capitalist class rapidly acknowledge the importance of ‘global cities’ as hubs of accumulation (see Kipfer & Goonewardena, 2004 for an excellent analysis of urban imperialism). The next section unpacks the material organization of complex security capitalism, and the section following outlines how ‘the city’ has become a site of greatly intensified securitization.

Complex Security Capitalism: Innovation or Imperialism?

Complex security capitalism is characterized by the promise of full spectrum militarized containment/surveillance of life spaces, evidenced by intensification of the carceral state, imperialist borders and creating ‘the city’ as internationally securitized zones. There are two features differentiating complex security capitalism from more traditional paradigms of policing and militarism. One is the generalized dispersion and intensified penetration of social relations organizing imperialist practices throughout the lifeworld. Rather than a tactical containment of one particular area, the aspiration is for full spectrum surveillance/containment that could potentially lock down and contain and even exterminate anything, anytime, anywhere. This capability is predicated on highly advanced technological systems and complex global networking among weapons, personnel, organizations, and communications. The second feature is that ‘security threat’ is defined by conservative think-tanks and national security as an evolving web of events rather than ‘an enemy state’ per se, and can include pandemics, counter-neoliberal rebellions, ecological catastrophes, food crises, Indigenous land-back actions, money crises, criminal networks and gangs, terrorists, protracted humanitarian crises, irregular migrations, among others. Critical writers have described the kind of ‘warfare’ that has evolved as ‘as war on the poor world’ (Bhattacharyya, 2005), but is more aptly described as a Black genocide when applied to militarized drug-war razing of favelas in Brazil to pave the way for gentrification projects ( ). Similarly, it is more aptly described as Indigenous genocide when paramilitaries are sent to massacre entire villages in Latin America in the name of ‘drug wars’, to pave the way for multinational extractive industries to purchase collectively titled Indigenous land (Paley, 2014). A proper analysis of complex security capitalism entails centering the role of violence and terror in the ongoing reproduction of racialized capitalist accumulation. As capitalism has become ever more ‘globalized’ and ‘financialized’, the tactical horrors enacted to ‘manage’ this hierarchized and segregated system have become increasingly pernicious. McKittrick’s term ‘plantation logic’ is appropriate, as is Mbembe’s ‘necro-politics’. Death capitalism.

Complex security capitalism evolved historically and materially over the past three decades and as such is imbricated in what we now refer to as ‘financialization’. Monopoly finance capitalism is our contemporary era of capitalism and is characterized by finance as the most dominant circuit coordinating other capitalist circuits, namely industrial production (production circuits) and commerce (commercial circuits). Lapavitsas (2011) defines financialization as “a systematic transformation of mature capitalist economies that comprise three fundamental elements: first, large non-financial corporations have reduced reliance on bank loans and have acquired financial capacities; second, banks have expanded their mediating activities in financial households as well as lending to households; third, households have become increasingly involved in the realm of finance as debtors and as asset holders.” (pp. 611-612).
There are three features to financialization that are important to the themes in this report. The first is that financialization materially organizes “centralization of capital” or global capitalist monopolies and oligarchies. Centralization at a global scale materially produces surplus populations organized as segregated, hierarchized and globally racialized (surplus) labour. Second, financialization organizes capitalist imperialism manifesting in securitized control over a globalized economy. Historically, imperialism has been conceptualized in terms of concepts such as ‘enemy states’. Contemporary imperialism is better thought of as global hierarchized economies, consisting of subordinate nation states that are ‘kept in check’ by hegemon states such as the U.S. and the G7 (e.g., Meiksins-Wood, 2005). Subordinate states are obligated to ‘perform’ having their house in order by launching ‘wars on crime’, ‘wars on drugs’, ‘wars on gangs’, and exercising strong homeland security backed by the military power of hegemon states. Protracted humanitarian crises are managed via militarized ‘aide’; monetary crises are resolved via ‘financialized agreements’ that further open domestic economies to intensified predation, backed by militarized security. And so on.
The international securitized environment characterized by ‘complex security capitalism’ has been developing over decades but escalated after a global economic slowdown following 9-11. Internationally, nation states declared ‘innovation’ as simultaneously an economic strategy to address the slow down by way of investing in ‘security’ innovations, particularly in area such as communications (tracking novel data streams; big data; etc.) and biosurveillance (Magnusson, 2013 Canada’s 2002 papers on innovation reads:
For the first time in 25 years, Canada is in the midst of a slowdown that is happening concurrently in every major market in the world. More than 40 percent of Canada’s economic activity is generated by exports, and these have been hit hard by the global slowdown. This was reflected in our weaker performance in the first half of 2001. The events of September 11 further affected our performance, particularly in sectors such as transportation and tourism. In this period of uncertainty it is important to restore a sense of personal security, and that was a key goal of the Government of Canada’s 2001 budget (Canada’s Innovation Strategy, 2002).
Accordingly, noteworthy examples of innovation include:
Improved security measures at airports, including facial recognition systems, iris scans, and automatic thumb printing, will be made possible by new and innovative technologies. (Canada’s Innovation Strategy, 2002).
The impetus to organize biosurveillance as U.S.-lead international securitization was greatly facilitated by an Obama-era initiative entitled National Biosurveillance Strategy for Human Health (2010). According to the National Centre for Biotechnology Information biosurveillance was prioritized as a security strategy following September 2001, 9/11 attacks ( ‘The Strategy’ articulates biosurveillance as active gathering, analysis and interpretation of biosphere data that might relate to disease or any threat to human or animal health. The Strategy envisions data sharing among stakeholders, as well as Big Data mining, visual representations, open-source scanning, geo-coding for GIS-mapping, digitalized health data, biosensor data, novel data streams such as social media, online discussion groups, monitoring search engines. In many respects Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Alibaba hold near-monopoly power over data gathering for predictive analytics (Zuboff, 2018) but specialized corporations continue to innovate algorithmic applications for evidence-based policing, algorithmic policing, and algorithmic governance.
As Brown argues, within landscapes organized through plantation logics, these innovations produce cities and borders (e.g., airports) as sites of anti-Black surveillance and urbicide (Brown, 2015). Cities have become the emergent sites to invest in ‘innovation’ which is coded policy language for ‘securitization’ or ‘complex security capitalism’.
As stated by the World Economic Forum, “Cities concentrate the majority of foreign direct investment and are the drivers of innovation and productivity. As a result, cities are rivalling nation-states – in terms of their economic clout, diplomatic influence and international connectivity. Nation states are not about to go away, but they are giving way to alternative networks and distributed forms of power.” (It's cities, not countries, that will solve our biggest challenges | World Economic Forum.pdf).
In other words, cities are emergent sites of capitalist imperialism and counter-imperialist struggle as presciently described by Kipfer and Goonewarda (2004). Rather than ‘enemy state’, the ‘enemy territory’ is understood as sprawling urban spaces as described by Davis in Planet of Slums (Davis, 2012). Global racial capitalism has produced cities as sites for migration due to forced dislocations because of disasters, political crises, genocides, debt crises, and petro-wars. At the same time, decades of neoliberal policy have produced cities organized as segregated and hierarchized. Although many have mapped out how financialization produces cities as gentrified through financial instruments such as Real Estate Income Trusts (REIT’s), fewer have examined how carceral logics and urbicide are necessary in organizing urban real estate as sites of financialized accumulation. Black scholar/activists making these connections include Beverly Bain, Rinaldo Walcott, Idil Abdillahi, Katherine McKittrick, Punam Khosla, Simone Brown, Robyn Maynard, Desmond Cole. In a recent thesis, Yasmine Hassen (2021) refers to this process of yoking financialized gentrification to plantation logics as ‘lynching Black geographies’. Although Hassen uses this term in reference to Toronto, the anti-Black plantation and trans-Atlantic slavery logics of urbicide examined in their research reveal the connections and resonances currently producing international solidarities across ‘global’ cities, favelas, disinvested ghettos and slums in a coordinated and sustained call for abolition.
There are several more U.S. based writers, including Angela Davis whose book draws connections useful for international solidarity building across cities such as Ferguson and colonized geographies such as Palestine. She examines the international privatized, public-for-profit security sector organizing carceral/security capitalism as central to dismantling global racial capitalism. Similarly, writers such as Robin D.G. Kelley, Jackie Wang, Fred Moten, Ruth Gilmore, Andrea Ritchie, among others, argue for abolition politics as central to dismantling capitalism. In a stunning political pamphlet, Rinaldo Walcott (2021a) calls for the abolition of all property rights under capitalism as central to dismantling technological and managerial regimes of anti-Black terror, bondage and surveillance reproduced as late capitalism but originating in slavery and plantation economics.
Within Canada, the Federal level ‘guns and gangs’ strategies have been decidedly anti-Indigenous within cities such as Winnipeg, Manitoba where most people dying from police violence are Indigenous ( Statistics Canada reports that although Indigenous youth make up only 8% of Canada’s youth, they represent 46% of those in corrections. However, in Manitoba, Indigenous youth represent 81% for Indigenous boys and 82% for Indigenous girls ( ). Within cities such as Toronto, diverse Black communities have been most aggressively targeted, including Somalian and Afro-Caribbean communities. In Toronto’s central east region in the Moss Park area, Black and racialized Queer/Trans sex workers, substance users, encampment dwellers and other precariously housed people are criminalized or simply allowed to go ‘missing’ as the gentrification of that urban space proceeds aggressively.
Recognizing the importance of ‘cities’ and private property to accumulation, monopoly finance capitals have been investing heavily into urbanized complex security capitalism. Therefore local, national and international militarized economic policies and strategies have been quickly assembled to ‘innovate cities’ that will securitize wealth accumulation at the same time recognizing that global racial capitalism will continue unabated to produce racialized surplus populations and disposable populations into the future. Capitalism that does not produce surplus and disposable populations is entirely a contradiction. Capitalism without imperialism is entirely a contradiction. Contemporary financialized capital cannot exist without its ‘global cities’, and therefore cannot exist without exercising extra-economic violence in order to ‘manage’ the extractive-as-yoked-to-exploitive logics comprising global capitalism’s totality.
As the project to create cities as sites of imperialism unfolds in jurisdictions such as Canada, the use of carceral logics to securitize non-urban territory for extractive capitalism is also escalating. For example, we can see that police state violence and carceral logics are fundamental to managing organized neocolonial capitalism as evidenced by the February 2020 arrests of 80 individuals in Wet’sowet’en camps and solidarity actions taking place across Canada after hereditary chiefs from five clans rejected the Coastal Gaslink pipeline and asserted sovereignty over traditional territories. Moreover, five Unist’ot’en matriarchs were arrested during a ceremony to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. The targets of this particular raid were land defenders, including Victoria Redsun (Denesuline), Autumn Walken (Nlaka’pamux), and Pocholo Alen Conception. The RCMP proceeded to rip down the red dress installation – a powerful cultural signifier of struggle against gendered genocide -- from the ceremonial space claiming that the guardhouse falls within an injunction territory.
These struggles bring to the foreground the contemporary carceral logics necessary in organizing and managing state dispossession and gendered genocide constitutive of extraction industries within financialized capitalism. Moreover, we can see how dismantling these carceral logics is key to dismantling capitalist property relations and therefore key to anti-capitalist futures dismantled of extractive logics organized as land dispossession, gendered Indigenous genocide, anti-Black urbicide and complex security capitalism shaping ‘cities’ as sites of imperialism.

‘Innovate Cities’: Urban war against Black, Indigenous and Racialized Communities

The focus on ‘Cities’ as an emerging international concern is evidenced by ‘School of Cities’ kinds of institutions and research hubs appearing at major universities world-wide. The University of Toronto’s ‘School of Cities’ began operations on July 1, 2018 with a mandate to ‘innovate cities’ ( Citing University of Toronto’s President Gertler, UofT’s media reports:
While the School of Cities will be firmly rooted in the GTA, it will also be addressing issues faced by cities across Canada and around the world, said President Gertler. “We see it as a hub in a global network where we will be connecting with scholars and practitioners in other major metropolitan regions around the world, whether it be places like Shanghai or Mumbai or elsewhere,” he said.
A World Bank policy paper on urban development aims to create a discourse of economic democracy in the following excerpt:
With more than 80% of global GDP generated in cities, urbanization can contribute to sustainable growth if managed well by increasing productivity, allowing innovation and new ideas to emerge. Conflicts are on the rise, resulting in 60% of forcibly displaced people living in urban areas. Cities are also in the frontline of combating epidemics. Cities across the globe are currently being tested to the extreme with the COVID-19 pandemic. It is impacting not only public health but also the economy and social fabric. Simultaneously a health crisis, social crisis, and economic crisis, COVID-19 is laying bare how well cities are planned and managed and the impact this is having on the extent to which each city is able to function – or not – especially during times of crisis.
Building cities that “work” – inclusive, healthy, resilient, and sustainable – requires intensive policy coordination and investment choices. National and local governments have an important role to play to take action now, to shape the future of their development, to create opportunities for all.
The ‘glitter’ sprinkling the University of Toronto’s School of Cities public persona hides the underbelly of urbicide being innovated to securitize cities. “CityShield” is one such example of complex security capitalism that promises to be a non-profit ‘data trust’ representing a partnership between University of Toronto’s School of Cities Urban Data Centre and Innovate Cities, a Canadian corporation. CityShield promises to aggregate data to improve the quality of lives within urban centres. The white paper from the Innovate Cities website reads:
Smart cities technologies impact a variety of areas; from urban resilience and climate change preparedness, to mobility, transportation, job creation, housing, and community engagement. A key component of these technologies is the gathering, use and storing of real-time data. This data is then used to improve the decision-making process and solve persistent urban problems, leading to more inclusive, livable and sustainable cities and a better quality of life for their citizens.


Slow to Toronto, the concept of CityShield has been innovated in jurisdictions such as France where the state owns 26% of shares in Thales, a company with international subsidiaries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceana, North America and South America. Thales was formed as a joint venture with Raytheon in 2001 and is currently the 8th largest defense contractor in the world. The cities of Nice and Mexico City have been set up as model cities showcasing a ‘successful’ implementation of Thales’ ‘Innovate Safe City’ as a smart city urban design. ICE (U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement) has its own version which is called ‘Operation Community Shield’ that has a focus on gangs, drugs and guns -- and of course ‘illegal’ immigrants (
The concept of smart cities and city shields evolve differently in different political geographies reflecting the particularized regional power relations. Diganta Das (2020) for example has an excellent analysis of India’s Smart City endeavor whereby 100 cities competed to be selected for ‘smart city’ investment. He concludes that smart city designs further privatization of city space for value creation, exacerbating the existing divide between wealthy and poor.
Clearly in Ontario we see evidence of significant intensification of policing and surveillance organizing cities such as Toronto as sites of ‘new imperialism’. During a recent meeting Beverly Bain, a co-founder of NPPC, noted that as businesses and organizations that have been shut down during the pandemic begin opening up, the police state apparatus along with monopolized media are communicating that ‘all is now back to normal’: ‘this is what coming out of covid – our new world -- is supposed to look like’. As she notes, what is very apparent is that we have entered into an era of tyranny characterized by full spectrum of biosurveillance, algorithmic ‘predictive’ policing, and international financialized carceral and complex surveillance capitalism.

Privatization of Public Spaces

The massive militarization of the prison and carceral industrial complex that continues to shape cities across Turtle Island requires privatization of public spaces. Most recently, activists in Toronto challenging encampment clearings in parks, pandemic evictions, anti-Black police violence and criminalization, broadly speaking, have come under heavy surveillance and arrests. Many have been treated for broken wrists, cracked ribs and concussions in addition to being arrested. The capitalization and financialization of cities require privatizing public spaces and criminalizing raced, poor and marginalized bodies in those spaces. In “On Property” Rinaldo Walcott (2021) argues incisively that the abolition of property is central to abolitionist claims. He asserts that public spaces which he calls ‘the commons’ are being criminalized as part of the conversion process to private property. He writes “Policing and criminal punishment continue to further strip our relationship to the commons, replacing it with private property and heavily circumscribed and policed public property” (pp. 87). This is evident in the continuous occupation of city parks by armed police and security personnel who violently arrest those who are a part of encampment communities, and those who are encampment supporters, charging them with trespassing. The increased militarization, criminalization and privatization of public spaces is occurring at the same time that governments in this country engage what Ruth Wilson Gilmore refers to as “organized state abandonment and organized state violence” (2005).
Hopefully this report is a starting point in mapping out some of the international relations coordinating police and surveillance intensification in our local spaces.


In centering Queer/Trans Black and Indigenous abolition work during pandemic times the NPPC has become a critical site of dismantling capitalism, imperialism and colonialism. This vision embraces and celebrates irrepressible expressions of criminalized queer life and its experiments in life-genres that are revolutionary and that can pre-figure post-capitalist imaginaries. It is a vision spectacularly open to the liberatory imagination of young Black (queer/trans) women that Saidya Hartman celebrates in Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments, for example. Or that Leanne Betasamosake Simpson celebrates in As We Have Always Done and Noopiming: A Cure for White Ladies. The queer/trans call for international abolition sets up a generative landscape for liberation and experimentation, and like the term ‘queer’, re-claims the term ‘innovation’ to represent a collectively inspired anti-capitalist future.

End Note

This report was prepared for NPPC by Jamie Magnusson and Beverly Bain, with support from NPPC research assistants Ian Tian, Rebekah Lowe, Paris Honoria and Katherine Snell. The report emerged from a request during our previous meeting to develop an analytical piece that pulled together what we collectively perceived as a recent and sudden intensification of police violence against our queer/trans communities during the pandemic summers of 2020 and 2021. Gary Kinsman has written extensively over the years about the Canadian war on queer/trans communities through state surveillance and policing. We thank him as well as the Black and Indigenous and racialized scholars for developing critical concepts such as plantation logics, dark surveillance, and the deployment of the carceral state to continue Indigenous colonial dispossession and gendered genocide in the service of financialized extractive industries: Desmond Cole, Robyn Maynard, Yasmine Hassen, Ian Tian, Rinaldo Walcott, Katherine McKittrick, Simone Brown, Glen Coulthard, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, among others.
We extend a special thanks to NPPC for their comradeship in collective struggle. A Luta Continua.


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About The NPPC

The No Pride in Policing Coalition (NPPC) is an antiracist queer and trans group formed to support Black Lives Matter – Toronto and is focused on defunding and abolishing the police. We initiated the Pride Day 2020 Defund and Abolish All Police rally and teach-in of close to 3,000 people held at Nathan Philips Square, June 28, 2020 and the 600 person rally for defunding and abolishing the Toronto police held outside Toronto Police HQ on July 16, 2020.

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About The NPPC

The No Pride in Policing Coalition (NPPC) is an antiracist queer and trans group formed to support Black Lives Matter – Toronto and is focused on defunding and abolishing the police. We initiated the Pride Day 2020 Defund and Abolish All Police rally and teach-in of close to 3,000 people held at Nathan Philips Square, June 28, 2020 and the 600 person rally for defunding and abolishing the Toronto police held outside Toronto Police HQ on July 16, 2020.

Contact Us

For more info or media requests: