Toronto

Black Lives Matter Toronto rally at SIU headquarters, demands justice for Abdirahman Abdi

Black Lives Matter Toronto is protesting outside of Ontario's police watchdog's headquarters in Mississauga this morning, calling for justice one month after Abdirahman Abdi's fatal encounter with Ottawa police.

The SIU says "all Canadians enjoy the right to protest" and the watchdog respects that right

BLMTO has a list of demands for the SIU, including that they lay charges against the officers involved in Abdirahman Abdi's death. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

Black Lives Matter Toronto (BLMTO) is blocking the entrance of Ontario's police watchdog's headquarters in Mississauga, calling for justice one month after Abdirahman Abdi's fatal encounter with Ottawa police.

The rally comes just a week after the group shut down traffic at Yonge-Dundas to announce a list of demands for the province's Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in their investigation into the case.

Abdi lost vital signs during an arrest involving two officers, who had been called to respond to a man groping and harassing people inside a coffee shop in Ottawa's Hintonburg neighbourhood on the morning of July 24. Witnesses have described the altercation as violent. 

The 37-year-old Somali-Canadian man was pronounced dead in hospital the next day. He suffered from mental health issues. 

The SIU is now investigating two officers in connection with Abdi's death. The police watchdog investigates all cases of death or injury involving police in Ontario.

BLMTO has a list of demands for the SIU, including that they lay charges against the officers involved in Abdi's death.

The group also also called for the SIU to release its entire report into the Abdi case and release any race-based data that it keeps.

"We want all the reports," said BLMTO organizer Sandy Hudson Wednesday morning. "If they're going to tell us it makes sense to release Andrew Loku's report, well than they know concealing those reports is wrong."

SIU response to protest

In a statement Wednesday, the SIU wrote that, "all Canadians enjoy the right to protest and express their opinions in a peaceful manner," and that the watchdog respects that right.

Also in the statement, the SIU clarified their mandate and the legislative framework that governs them in the Police Services Act. The watchdog says it is up to their director to determine whether or not to lay a charge at the end of an investigation.

An Ontario Court of Appeal judge has been asked to conduct a independent review of the SIU by the province.

 

Events in Ottawa, Vancouver, elsewhere

Other Black Lives Matter events are being held across the country today:

  • Ottawa: A rally at Ottawa Police headquarters at 7 p.m. ET.
  • Hamilton, Ont.: A rally and protest at the attorney general's office at 7 p.m. ET.
  • Kitchener, Ont.: A rally and march at Kitchener City Hall at 7 p.m. ET.
  • Vancouver: An all-day social media/online campaign.
  • Edmonton: A letter-writing session in support of Abdi's family, being held in Centennial Plaza at 7 p.m. MT.
  • Winnipeg: A rally and protest at Winnipeg Police Department headquarters at 7 p.m. CT.