Rethinking Policing, Policy, Pandemic

Description of activities, leadership, contact information

Description of Activity

This working group brings together established, junior and emerging scholars across disciplines to examine and discuss policing and penality in relation to racialized, poor and street-involved populations in Toronto. We are a diverse, multilingual group of faculty and students whose combined areas of research include Afro-Latin American Studies, anticolonial studies, Black Studies, criminology, critical geography, critical race feminisms, disability studies, emancipatory pedagogies, equity and solidarity, and public health.

As social justice researchers, we share a sense of accountability to communities in and around our universities, and particularly a responsibility for the well-being of those populations who are marginalized and excluded through inequitable social relations and structures and who are targeted by state violence. These obligations are all the more pressing in the context of the COVID pandemic, which has foregrounded how policing in its many forms disproportionately endangers the lives of Black, Indigenous, migrant, queer, racialized, trans, and other marginalized folks.

This working group will study current debates in academia addressing:

  • community-university relations and the role of the university in today’s society following the outbreak of the pandemic;
  • safety and security on and around university campuses, particularly for those who are racialized, Indigenous, and disabled; and
  • tensions between and implications of contemporary discourses of public health, public safety, and decolonization.

As we engage with this scholarship we will also learn about and from various local community organizers and mutual aid initiatives in the GTA. In doing so, we will build on working relationships between academics and members of local communities by sharing and valuing knowledge across contexts and promoting equitable collaboration. Ultimately, we will examine what it means for scholars to pursue a politics of deep inclusivity that rejects what Ruth Wilson Gilmore has called the “organized abandonment” of groups and individuals considered deviant, unproductive and/ or otherwise disposable in our society.

We will develop critical insights into how the daily lives of members of our university and local communities are shaped by notions and practices of law and punishment, and together we will pursue critical community praxis with members of these groups during and following the COVID-19 pandemic. This working group will bring together scholars and community members in the spirit of study that aims beyond critique and towards cultivating alternatives to carcerality.


  • Rosalind Hampton, OISE Social Justice Education
  • Vannina Sztainbok, OISE Social Justice Education


Faculty, University of Toronto

  • Stan Doyle-Wood, New College Equity Studies program and Transitional Year Program
  • Sam Tecle, New College Equity Studies program

 Faculty outside University of Toronto

  • Rai Reese, Criminology, Ryerson University

Graduate Students, University of Toronto

  • Andrea Roman Alfaro, Sociology
  • A.J. Bedward, OISE Social Justice Education
  • Elaine Cagulota, OISE Social Justice Education
  • Mariba Douglas, FAS Geography & Planning
  • Roxana Escobar Ñañez, FAS Geography & Planning
  • Ntombi Nkiwane, Della Lana School of Public Health, Health Promotion