Wristbands being worn by members of Ottawa’s police force in solidarity with an officer charged in connection with the death of a Somali-Canadian man are causing controversy in the nation’s capital.
The black and blue rubber bands, which were recently advertised via a closed Facebook group, say “united we stand,” followed by Const. Daniel Montsion’s badge number, on the outside. They have “divided we fall” inscribed on the inside.
The CBC is reporting that the wristbands are being sold for $2 each in support of a police benevolent fund, and that 1,200 have been ordered.
Ottawa’s Community and Police Action Committee has expressed concern that the bracelets are causing needless tension and division as Montsion’s case makes its way through the court system.
One of the committee members, Aisha Sherazi, tweeted on Wednesday that a core value of policing is that officers be fair and impartial.
The president of the Ottawa Police Association, Matt Skof, said the wristbands are not part of the police uniform and won’t be worn on the job.
Montsion has been charged following the death last summer of 37-year-old Abdirahman Abdi, a Somali-Canadian man who died after a confrontation with two constables outside his apartment building.
Montsion had his first court date Wednesday, and has been charged with manslaughter, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon in connection with the July 2016 incident.
The Ontario government has named a Toronto-based Crown attorney to prosecute the case. Philip Perlmutter, of the Justice Prosecutions Unit, is representing the Crown in the matter.
No stranger to cases involving police, Perlmutter successfully prosecuted a Toronto police officer who was convicted in 2013 of assault with a weapon for using excessive force during the arrest of a protester on the lawn of the Ontario legislature during the G20 Summit in 2010.
The court also heard today there will be an out-of-town judge.
A designate from the firm of high-profile defence lawyer Michael Edelson appeared on behalf of Montsion in court, where a pretrial was set for May 1.
WATCH: Ottawa police officer charged with manslaughter in death of Abdirahman Abdi
The Special Investigations Unit, a civilian oversight body that investigates deaths, serious injuries and sexual assaults involving police in Ontario, says Montsion was one of two officers involved in the altercation with Abdi, who lost vital signs during the confrontation before he was pronounced dead in hospital the next
Abdi had been pursued by the officers for several blocks after allegedly groping a female customer and harassing others inside a nearby coffee shop. Video of the aftermath of the violent arrest circulated widely in the days following the incident.
*With files from The Canadian Press