A few weeks ago Canada deemed me, the Snitchlady, ineligible for refugee status and forced me to leave behind the city I called home for five years.
Even though I’m now living in Nigeria, where I continue to fight crime using social media, it saddens me to see Toronto once again gripped by gun and gang violence.
I hate to say I told you so, but...
Days after the city’s worst ever mass shooting on Danzig St. in July, I notified Toronto Police about online threats being directed at Scarborough residents.
“You will be sprayed and rinsed this weekend if you talk to police,” one person was told.
Another was warned, “I will kill your family if you snitch.”
The youths behind the threats boldly identified themselves as “the new Galloway Boys,” making it clear to anyone paying attention that the Danzig shooting was gang-related and the violence was just beginning.
So it came as no surprise when police revealed last week that they suspect a new crop of Galloway Boys, aided by older gang members, have been involved in at least eight shootings, including the deadly gun battle on Danzig St.
It’s worth noting one of the young men allegedly at the heart of the Danzig shootout, Nahom Tsegazab, also came to Canada as a refugee.
Although I was booted out of the country after helping 13 murder victims’ families and passing on tips to cops that led to 18 arrests and six convictions, the 19-year-old Somalian was welcomed with open arms and is now a Canadian citizen.
Tsegazab is charged with reckless discharge of a firearm, but that could change.
Police so far haven’t laid any murder charges in the Danzig shooting, partly because witnesses refuse to talk.
That’s something I tried to tackle in Toronto.
I repeatedly urged those who fear retaliation or being labelled a snitch to contact Crime Stoppers. I also passed on tips to police that I received through Twitter, where nearly 70,000 followers know me as the Snitchlady.
Unfortunately, Crime Stoppers tips aren’t enough to lock up the criminals. Police need witnesses willing to testify in court.
That’s an even bigger challenge and it will continue to be an obstacle until people feel it’s safe to come forward.
Early this year, Deputy Chief Peter Sloly began drafting the Toronto Police Victim Witness Support Strategy, which was to be similar to witness protection without requiring people to change their names and re-locate across the country.
What’s happening with that?
And maybe it’s time for another gun amnesty program. Remember Pixels for Pistols?
Police rounded up more than 2,000 firearms in 2008 by partnering with Henry’s and giving cameras to those who turned in guns.
While in Canada, I proved one person can make a difference. Police even acknowledged after I left that I “made a lot of noise.”
My crime-fighting efforts are focused on Nigeria these days.
So it’s now up to every Torontonian to stand together and say, “Enough is enough, the streets safe.”
— Omololu-Olunloyo is an activist and journalist now based in Nigeria.
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