Nationwide protests planned in Canada after police killing of black man
Anger is building up in Canada after the death of a black man at the hands of police, prompting plans for protests by those who say police violence against the black community is not solely a US problem.
Abdirahman Abdi, a 37-year-old Somali immigrant, died after police repeatedly beat him outside his apartment building in Ottawa on Sunday morning.
Police were called in over reports of a disturbance near a coffee shop in the neighborhood of Hintonburg, located in the city’s west end.
Abdi, whose neighbors said suffered an unspecified mental illness, tried to make his way from the coffee shop towards his apartment but after a foot chase, police nabbed him face down on a pool of blood.
They beat him repeatedly by a baton and spraying pepper on his eyes, while dozens of horrified bystanders watched the horrific scene.
The severely-injured Muslim was then taken to the Ottawa Hospital, but he succumbed to his wounds and passed away, hours after his bloody arrest on Monday.
A video recorded by an eye witness showed the aftermath of Abdi’s violent arrest, when he was lying face down on the ground in a bloodied shirt, with his hands cuffed behind his back.
A protest over Abdi’s death and police handling of the incident is planned for Wednesday in Montreal.
Ontario’s police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), announced that it had launched an investigation into Abdi’s death, which could take months.
This is while the local police chief has stood by his team saying he supports their actions.
“This is a heartbreaking loss and our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Abdi’s family at this difficult time,” said Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM).
“Many members of the Ottawa Muslim and Somali communities have serious concerns about how this tragic incident unfolded, including whether prejudice had something to do with Mr. Abdi’s treatment,” he said.
The black and Aboriginal communities are targeted at a greater per capita rate than the rest of Canadian society.
It is by no means the first time Canadian police are involved in killing an immigrant.
In July 2015, a Toronto police officer gunned down 45-year-old Andrew Loku, a mentally ill immigrant from South Sudan, in his apartment. The officer, however, was not charged.
The most publicized case, however, was the 2013 death of Sammy Yatim, who was shot eight times and then Tasered. The officer who shot him was found guilty of attempted murder in January.