Target: Prime Minister Trudeau
Goal: Demand police reform after man was allegedly beaten to death by officers.
Ottawa resident and member of Ottawa’s Somali community, Abdirahman Abdi, was reportedly beaten to death by Ottawa police after they responded to reports of assaults at a nearby coffee shop. When Abdi, fleeing from the officers, attempted to enter his apartment building, the officers allegedly began to beat him with their batons and spray him with pepper spray. Eventually, after cuffing him, the police called the emergency services, but Mr Abdi died in hospital.
According to Abdi’s neighbors, he was a peaceful man who suffered from an as-of-yet unspecified mental illness. His death is the latest in a series of killings of black men with mental illnesses in communities across Canada. In 2015, 45-year-old father of five Andrew Loku was killed by Toronto police officers. Clearly there is a need for Canadian law enforcement to receive training in order to de-escalate potentially violent situations. Furthermore, many migrant and refugee communities in Canada have poor relationships with law enforcement due to experiences in their home countries. It is critical for any police force aiming to serve a community to understand and respect that community. Sign our petition and demand law enforcement reform in Canada.
Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,
In the wake of the killing of Abdirahman Abdi, it has never been more clear that there is something fundamentally wrong with policing in Canada. Those suffering from mental illnesses are often killed or hurt by law enforcement. Too often, these tragedies are the result of situations that could have been resolved peacefully. It should not escape anyone’s attention that those hurt most often are people of color.
Those responsible for this killing must be held accountable, however they must not be used as scapegoats for what is ultimately a systemic problem. Police in Canada must be trained, tested, and certified to deescalate potentially violent situations. Violence should not be the first response. Furthermore, in order to serve immigrant, migrant, and refugee communities in Canada, law enforcement must be sensitive to community experiences of policing both in and out of Canada. I urge you to produce federal guidelines to promote these skills in all Canadian law enforcement agencies.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Fibonacci Blue