Failure of the Ottawa Police Service to remove the occupiers isn’t Chief Sloly’s fault: it’s exactly as expected

February 16, 2022 – Ottawa – The response of the Ottawa Police Service to the occupation of Ottawa was not a failure nor was former chief Peter Sloly’s leadership in that response. On the contrary, the OPS acted exactly as expected because the OPS, like all police forces in Canada, has always had one mandate: protect the powerful – or at least don’t get in their way. And the thousands of mostly white convoy protesters, and their organizers with their millions in the bank, were the powerful. In contrast, the young Black and Indigenous protesters who blocked the Ottawa intersection in November 2020 weren’t and that’s why the OPS treated them very differently.

Sloly faced resistance from OPS rank and file officers, senior officers and the Ottawa Police Association from the moment he took the job. From the racist memes comparing him to Hitler to the multiple attacks from OPA president Matt Skof, Sloly was under attack – and under supported – from day one. That these same people would take the opportunity to use the OPS response to the occupation as an excuse to oust Sloly is completely expected.

Furthermore, the claims by unnamed OPS officials that former Chief Sloy caused the supposed “failure” by his “short fuse” that led to “volatile behaviour” with senior staff is the age-old racist technique of people labeling Black people aggressive to shift blame away from themselves. 

The media perpetuated this racist stereotype by quoting these sources without providing details to prove their claims. CBC quoted one unnamed source saying, “The Ottawa Police Service is paralyzed…at the front line. They’ve been waiting for directions from the senior leadership team and are frustrated with how they’re being viewed by the public because of the spectacular failure of their leader.”

The OPS is neither frustrated nor paralyzed: they’re acting exactly as intended.

The OPS response to the occupation backs up calls to defund and eventually abolish the OPS because the main questions people ask about abolishing the police is, “What about the murderers? What about the rapists? Who are we going to call then?” Well, up until last month, people could have asked, “What if thousands of angry protesters occupy downtown Ottawa and harass people for over a week? Who are we going to call then?” Well, now at least it’s crystal clear who there’s absolutely no point calling: the Ottawa police. 

“Enough is enough. It’s time to start the process of abolishing the Ottawa police by massively defunding them and starting real community conversations about what systems we should fund and create to truly make us all safer”, said 613-819 Black Hub co-lead Robin Browne.