Days after after the tragic death Somali-Canadian citizen Abdirahman Abdi during an altercation with police, hundreds of protestors gathered in the capital city of Canada in protest of the allegedly race-related incident.
It was on July 24 that officers responded to reports of disturbances at a coffee shop in Ottowa, Canada’s capital city located in the Ontario province. According to eyewitness statements, Abdi, who local media reports had “mental health issues”, was chased down by police officers and beaten when he attempted to run back into his apartment building. He would later die in custody.
In a nation perceived to be one of the most tolerant in the world, the suspected racially-charged occurrence is leaving many to simply brush off Abdi’s death while others remain enraged.
The president of the Ottawa Police Association dismissed the claim as “inappropriate”, saying that race was “simply a fact to the case” and no different than “gender or height”:
“Our relationships with the community are very well established and we do not have the same history around racial tensions that the U.S. experiences,” Matthew Skof said last week following Abdi’s death.
However, others aren’t taking this death at face value, drawing comparison to the death of mentally-ill Andrew Loku during a confrontation with Toronto police.
“Brother Abdirahman was killed because he teetered on the intersections of Blackness, Somaliness, Islamophobia, and mental health. Brother Abdirahman was killed because of a society that says his life doesn’t matter,” wrote the Toronto chapter of Black Lives Matter in a statement. “One that allows for hospitals to corroborate the police, to protect his killers, claiming to his family and the public that he was alive and in ‘critical condition’ for 24 hours, even though he was dead 45 minutes before arriving at the hospital. We must hold the police accountable for the killing of Abdirahman. We must hold Ottawa hospital accountable for their role in protecting the police and lying to the public.”
Saturday’s [July 30] marched ended in Downtown Ottowa in the late afternoon after chants of “Black Lives Matter!” and “Enough is enough!” Echoed through the streets.
Protesters also called for the officers involved, Dave Weir and Daniel Montsion, to be put on unpaid leave. As of right now, the CBC reports, one of those officers has now been placed on leave with the other remains active.
Friday, Abdi’s funeral was attended by family members and an overwhelming throng of supporters with Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson among those in attendance.
Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit is currently looking into the circumstances surrounding Abdi’s arrest, while advocates have called for criminal charges to be filed.