Ottawa Demonstration Against Police Brutality and Impunity

On June 20, a demonstration organized by Justice for Abdirahman Coalition gathered more than 1,000 people at Elgin Street police station in Ottawa. They then marched to Ottawa City Hall to denounce racism and police violence against Black and Indigenous people.

The organizers noted: "This march is organized to support the global and local protests against police violence on Black lives. We also act in solidarity with our Indigenous sisters and brothers who have been struggling against the same racist police violence in Ottawa and across Canada."

Hamid Ibrahim, a member of the coalition, spoke outside City Hall. He stated in part:

"In recent weeks, the senseless killing of George Floyd has galvanized the world. The horrific video of George's last moments at the hands of those tasked with his protection has truly laid bare a capacity for racist brutality that many in the United States and Canada have failed to acknowledge. Just as with Abdirahman Abdi's death and the recent assault of Obi Ifedi here in Ottawa, violence against Black people has been wilfully ignored by our institutions. The death of Greg Ritchie in Ottawa in 2019 and recent police killings of Indigenous people across Canada show us that this violence is deployed in equal force against our Indigenous brothers and sisters. Yet in our city and beyond, institutional and structural change has been slow, despite mounting video evidence of wildly disproportionate acts of violence, amounting to naked complacency in the face of summary executions.

"Extra-judicial killings of unarmed Black and Indigenous people at the hands of police has proven itself a pandemic. This pandemic requires the same attention, diligence, and far-reaching approaches established by public health officials in their fight against COVID-19. Demands for justice have reached a boiling point; they can no longer be ignored."

Ibrahim went on to articulate various demands to the City of Ottawa, Province of Ontario and Government of Canada. They include a demand to defund Ottawa Police Service by putting a "significant portion" of its budget toward services that provide alternatives to armed police response to ensure community safety and well-being. The province was called on to reinstate Bill 175, the Safer Ontario Act, 2018, to put in place measures for police accountability. The federal government was called on to investigate "entrenched racism within the RCMP."[1]

The Justice for Abdirahman Coalition was formed in 2016. Abdirahman Abdi was a 37-year-old Somali-Canadian with mental health issues. He lived in Ottawa's Hintonburg community at 55 Hilda Street. Abdirahman died on July 24, 2016 during a violent altercation with Ottawa Police Service officers, recorded on one of the apartment's security cameras. Mr. Abdi had no criminal history, and there are no indications he posed a threat to the lives or safety of the officers at whose hands he died.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), an agency of the Ministry of the Attorney General, took on the investigation within hours of the incident. However, the SIU has yet to release a judgment on the case. Ottawa police Const. Daniel Montsion is currently on trial for manslaughter, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon in relation to Abdi's death.


1. To read the entire speech, click here


This article was published in

Volume 50 Number 23 - June 27, 2020

Article Link:
: Ottawa Demonstration Against Police Brutality and Impunity


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