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Canadians protest death of black Muslim man in police custody

31 July 2016 10:33

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Hundreds of people have staged a rally in the Canadian capital of Ottawa in protest at the death of a mentally-ill black Muslim man in police custody.

The protest was held for Abdirahman Abdi, a black 37-year-old, on Sunday, a day after his funeral.

More than 500 demonstrators took to the streets in the capital, holding banners that read “Black lives matter!” echoing calls against police brutality targeting black people in the United States.

Abdi died after being severely beaten by police officers, who had reportedly responded to calls of a disturbance, last weekend.

“They murdered him! Enough is enough!” the protesters chanted as they marched toward the Ottawa police headquarters.


People shout during a rally to protest the death in police custody of Abdirahman Abdi, a mentally-ill black man, in Ottawa, Canada, July 30, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)

 

Reports said the event was peaceful, with no arrests or violence.

“We want to know what’s going on, and we want the officers to have some form of cameras on their person at all times so we know exactly how they’re dealing with situations like this,” said Chi-chi Ayalogu-Okonkwo, an organizer of the rally.

The organizers also urged the removal of the two officers involved in Abdi’s violent arrest from duty.

On July 25, Abdi, whose neighbors say suffered from an unspecified mental illness, was on his way home when police officers arrested him. He was seen subdued face-down on a pool of blood. Police officers beat him repeatedly with a baton and sprayed pepper onto his eyes, while dozens of horrified bystanders watched in shock.

The severely-injured man was then taken to the Ottawa Hospital but succumbed to the wounds sustained during the arrest.

A video recorded by an eye-witness showed Abdi at the time of arrest, lying face-down on the ground, with his hands cuffed behind his back and his pants pulled down before paramedics arrived.

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.

 

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