On Saturday, a group of about 100 people gathered in front of the Ottawa Police headquarters to demand change in the wake of recent police shootings of unarmed black men in the United States.
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On July 11th, 2020, a group of protestors gathered in front of the Ottawa police headquarters to demand change in the wake of recent police shootings in Canada and the United States. The Ottawa protest was one of many that have taken place across the country in recent weeks, as Canadians continue to grapple with issues of systemic racism and police brutality.
The Ottawa protest was organized by a local group called Justice for Black Lives Ottawa. The group’s demands include an end to street checks, more transparency and accountability from the police, and more funding for community organizations that work with marginalized communities.
With tensions running high across North America, it is clear that there is much work to be done in order to build trust between police and the communities they are sworn to protect. However, groups like Justice for Black Lives Ottawa are hopeful that change is possible, and they will continue to advocate for it until their voices can no longer be ignored.
On July 11th, 2016,symptoms of what many in North America had come to dread began to manifest in the city of Ottawa, Ontario. A young, black man, Abdirahman Abdi, had an altercation with police and was ultimately killed as a result. The conditions in which he died-beaten, handcuffed, and left unattended for over half an hour-sparked outrage and protests among Ottawa’s black community, who saw his death as yet another example of police brutality against black men.
The shooting of Abdirahman Abdi
On July 24, 2016, Abdirahman Abdi, a 37-year-old Somali-Canadian man, was involved in an altercation with police in the Hintonburg neighbourhood of Ottawa, Canada. He was then chased by police and after a confrontation, was knocked unconscious and later died in hospital. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which investigates incidents involving police that result in serious injury or death, is investigating Abdi’s death.The shooting has been widely condemned by the public and a number of protests have been held in Ottawa demanding justice for Abdi.
The death of Inuit youth, Joyce Echaquan
In September 2020, Joyce Echaquan, a 37-year-old Atikamekw mother of seven from the Manawan community in Quebec, died in a hospital after being subjected to racist taunts by hospital staff. Her death sparked outrage among Indigenous communities across the country and reignited calls for justice for Indigenous people in Canada.
Echaquan’s death came just days after another Indigenous person, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, died under unexplained circumstances while in police custody in Toronto. Her death also followed the release of a report by the Canadian Human Rights Commission that found that Indigenous people are eight times more likely to be killed by police than non-Indigenous people.
In the wake of these deaths, protests have been held across the country demanding justice for Indigenous people and an end to racism. The Ottawa Police Service has come under fire for its treatment of Indigenous people, particularly its use of street checks, which disproportionately target Indigenous people.
Who was protesting?
On Saturday, a group of about 200 people gathered in front of the Ottawa Police HQ to demand change in how the police force operates. The protestors, many of whom were members of the black and indigenous community, held signs that read “Black Lives Matter” and “No Justice, No Peace.”
The protest was organized by a local activist group called Justice for Abdirahman Abdi, which formed after the death of Abdi, a black man who died in police custody in 2016. The group is demanding that the officers involved in Abdi’s death be charged with criminal offences.
The protest comes just days after the release of a report by the Ontario Human Rights Commission that found that there is systemic racism within the Ottawa Police force. The report found that black and indigenous people are disproportionately stopped and searched by police, and are more likely to be involved in use-of-force incidents.
What were they demanding?
The protestors were demanding change from the Ottawa Police, specifically in regards to how the police handle cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
The police response
The Ottawa Police Department was criticized for its handling of the recent protests. The public is demanding change and the police are facing intense scrutiny.
Use of force
The police response to the protest was peaceful for the most part, with officers using minimal force. However, there were some isolated incidents of violence, and a small number of arrests were made.
Overall, the police response was largely praised by both demonstrators and observers. The use of force was seen as appropriate given the situation, and the officers on the scene were commended for their professionalism.
However, some criticized the police for not doing more to prevent violence from breaking out, and called for an investigation into the incident.
The police response to the protestors was harsh, with many arrests being made.
After a summer of protests and calls for change, the Ottawa Police Service faces a critical junction. As it stands, the OPS is underfunded, understaffed, and facing significant public pressure to improve its policies and procedures.OPS Chief Charles Bordeleau has said that he is open to reform, but it remains to be seen how much change the department is willing to implement. In the meantime, protestors continue to demand justice, and the fight for police reform in Ottawa is far from over.