Black Lives Matter Toronto have staged a rally at the Special Investigations Unit headquarters in Mississauga, Ont. on Wednesday to protest the death of a 37-year-old Somali-Canadian man following a police arrest in Ottawa last month.
Rallies have also been scheduled for several cities across Canada this evening including in Ottawa, Hamilton, Kitchener, Edmonton and Winnipeg.
“We need an end to anti-black racism in policing in this province. We need an end to anti-black racism in the accountability process,” Black Lives Matter co-founder Sandy Hudson to reporters.
Abdirahman Abdi, who family members say suffered from mental illness, died in hospital after being taken down by two male police officers on July 24.
Police were called to a nearby coffee shop to respond to a report of a man allegedly groping several women when officers intervened.
A portion of the arrest was filmed on video which sparked outrage among activist groups.
Ontario’s SIU, the independent agency that investigates police incidents resulting in death or serious injury, is looking into the actions of the two officers.
Black Lives Matter say the investigate process is shrouded in secrecy and the process should be made public.
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“Any type of accountability needs to be in the hands of the people that are meant to be protected by and if we can’t permeate that with 20 years of reviews, recommendations and protests, well then it needs to be gone,” said Hudson.
The SIU issued a statement on the protest saying it “respects this right” but detailed how its investigations are set by a legislative framework.
“The Special Investigations Unit is governed by a legislative framework that is set out in detail in the criminal investigations of the circumstances surrounding serious injuries and deaths in cases involving the police,” the statement reads.
“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.”
Wednesday’s rallies come a week after the activist group blocked off a busy downtown Toronto intersection to issue demands including charges to be laid against the officers involved and the public release of a report investigating Abdi’s death.
Read the full SIU statement on the protest below:
All Canadians enjoy the right to protest and express their opinions in a peaceful manner. The Special Investigations Unit respects this right.
Black Lives Matter Toronto has made a number of demands related to how the Special Investigations Unit fulfills its mandate of civilian oversight of police.
The Special Investigations Unit is governed by a legislative framework that is set out in detail in the criminal investigations of the circumstances surrounding serious injuries and deaths in cases involving the police. 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.
The Government of Ontario is responsible for the development of legislation and its effective implementation. It has appointed the Honourable Michael H. Tulloch, a judge of the Ontario Court of Appeal, to lead an independent review of the SIU and two other agencies that oversee police conduct in the province.