Members of Black Lives Matter are protesting the death of Abdirahman Abdi outside the head office of the province’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU).
The demonstration began at 5090 Commerce Blvd. in Mississauga round 7 a.m. on Wednesday.
“It’s been 20 years of business as usual at the SIU. And in those 20 years, the SIU has protected police in over 95 per cent of the cases it investigates,” Sandy Hudson, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto said in a statement.
“Not today. We’re bringing the names of the victims of police violence and SIU incompetence to their front door.”
Later Wednesday, Black Lives Matter will hold rallies across the country, including in Ottawa, Vancouver, Edmonton, Hamilton, Winnipeg, Kitchener, Thunder Bay, and Sudbury.
The group is calling for, among other things, charges for the two officers who are under investigation in Abdi’s death. The CBC has identified the officers as Const. David Weir and Const. Daniel Montison.
Abdi, 37, was taken down by police officers on July 24 in Ottawa.
Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau said officers were responding to multiple 911 calls regarding “multiple assaults” at a local business, confirmed by other sources to be a cafe. After trying to make an arrest, officers chased Abdi on foot.
Shortly afterward, the SIU said, there was a “confrontation” outside the apartment building down the street, where Abdi lived with his family, and he suffered medical distress.
The SIU released a statement about Wednesday’s demonstration, saying “All Canadians enjoy the right to protest and express their opinions in a peaceful manner.”
Spokesman Jason Gennaro also cautioned that the investigation was not yet finished.
“At the conclusion of every investigation, the Director determines whether there are grounds to lay a charge. Where those grounds exist, a charge is laid and referred to the Crown Law Office of the Ministry of the Attorney General for prosecution,” he said.
List of demands from Black Lives Matter
1. Charges to be laid against Ottawa police officers David Weir and Daniel Montison.
2. The public release of the full Special Investigations Unit report into the killing of Abdirahman Abdi
3. The collection, and release of any and all race-based data by the Special Investigations Unit.
4. The Attorney General Yasir Naqvi to mandate implementation of the recommendations of the Iacobucci Report on Police Encounters with People in Crisis across the province.
5. Attorney General Yasir Naqvi to undertake a similar expanded investigation into police encounters with people living with disabilities, including autism and other cognitive disabilities.
6. An Investigation, by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, led by Minister Eric Hoskins, into the extent to which the Ottawa Hospital and Ottawa paramedics colluded with Ottawa police to withhold information from the family of Abdirahman Abdi and to mislead the public about his death.
7. The Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons to strip the license of the health practitioner(s) who authorized the withholding of information regarding Abdirahman Abdi.
8. The Ottawa Hospital to confirm that they will end any practices in which there is collaboration with police or the Special Investigations Unit to withhold information from the families/next of kin and the public
9. Counselling and support services (both formal and community-developed) for family and community members who witnessed and were impacted by the killing of Abdirahman Abdi.
With files from The Canadian Press