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Protest against police brutality, systemic racism held at busy Halifax intersection

Demonstrators gather for a Black Lives Matter sit-in in Halifax on Friday, June 26, 2020. Graeme Benjamin./Global News

A busy Halifax intersection was closed to traffic Friday afternoon, after a Black Lives Matter sit-in was held in the days that followed another police-involved fatal shooting.

Friday’s demonstration was held in response to the death of 62-year-old Ejaz Ahmed Choudry in Mississauga on June 20.

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Ontario’s police watchdog has said Choudry was shot and killed by a Peel Region police officer during a wellness check.

Read more: Language barriers cited as challenge for police in increasingly diverse Canada

Peel Region Police have said Choudry was in a “state of crisis” and believed to have weapons on him in his residence.

Masuma Asad Khan, one of the organizers Friday’s demonstration in Halifax, said Choudry’s death is another example of why police shouldn’t be responding to mental health calls.

“Instead of receiving support from ambulances or medical professionals, they called the cops,” said Khan. “They shot him in his apartment and died, and he wasn’t a harm to anyone.”

The sit-in also comes in the weeks that follow the deaths of Chantel Moore and Rodney Levi in New Brunswick — both of whom were Indigenous and killed by police.

Click to play video: 'Public funeral held for 62-year-old man killed in Peel Regional Police shooting' Public funeral held for 62-year-old man killed in Peel Regional Police shooting
Public funeral held for 62-year-old man killed in Peel Regional Police shooting – Jun 24, 2020

Hundreds of people attended the demonstration, which focused on the defunding and abolition of police. Khan says that consistent community support from Halifax residents shows they’re “waking up” to how systemic racism is impacting everyday lives.

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“I’ve been organizing in this city for only a few years, but you’re definitely seeing an increase in how many people are actively coming out,” said Khan.

“Today, we might be a little smaller than we were in the past, but we’re still here to recognize, and bring justice, and call for justice and accountability for the killers of Ejaz Choudry.”

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The intersection at the corner of Gottingen and Cogswell streets was closed throughout much of the afternoon as a result of the sit-in.

Traffic was being diverted to Brunswick and North streets.

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Khan says demonstrations in support of the Black Lives Matter movement are scheduled to go forward well into Friday evening.

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