FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 28, 2020 – Ottawa, Ont. – Black groups in Ottawa are calling on the Government of Ontario, the Ottawa Police Service, the Ottawa Police Services Board and city council to take action to ensure the Ottawa Police Service fulfills its legal mandate to protect and serve Black Ottawa residents.
Our call follows the Oct. 7 death of Anthony Aust following an Ottawa police raid and the Oct. 20 acquittal of Ottawa police constable, Daniel Montsion, of all charges in the 2016 death of Abdirahman Abdi.
Montsion is the latest in a long list of police officers exonerated by a justice system behaving as designed. On the day of the verdict, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson issued a statement in which he said, “I also want to take this opportunity to reiterate my full confidence in our justice system. We are privileged in Canada to have a justice system that strives to render verdicts based on the facts and evidence before the courts – a system that upholds the rule of law.”
What the system strives to do is irrelevant. What it actually does is disproportionately penalize, imprison and kill Black people. It does uphold rule of law. The only problem is that the rules were designed to oppress Black people – and still do so with fatal efficiency.
We, therefore, call for the following actions:
Government of Ontario, Solicitor General, Sylvia Jones
That the Ford government reinstate changes to the Police Services Act called for by the Justice for Abdirahman Coalition:
- Chiefs of Police should have the power to suspend police officers without pay if they are charged with misconduct and/or criminal offences. Not only does this respect taxpayer dollars, it is the right thing to do. If the officer in question is found not guilty of the charges, the loss in pay should be awarded to the officer retroactively.
- Police officers should be required to comply with Special Investigations Unit investigations. Police officers have a duty to uphold the law and they should not be obstructing justice, including SIU investigations into police misconduct.
- Police disciplinary bodies should be held to the balance of probabilities standard of evidence. Most administrative and disciplinary tribunals in Ontario use this standard of evidence. Currently, the higher “clear and convincing” evidence standard allows police misconduct to go unchecked.
Ottawa Police Service, Chief Peter Sloly
That the Ottawa Police Service:
- Work with the Black community at every stage of the review of the city’s response to people in mental health crises with the goal of eliminating police from such responses as much as possible.
- Immediately stop using dynamic entry “no-knock” raids until the OPS review of dynamic raids is complete, including that the OPS has race-based data on who they’re using them on and improved ability to ensure innocent people, including the suspect, won’t get hurt.
- Immediately report to the community on the status of the OPS review of the School Resource Program.
Ottawa City Council
To avoid more tragedies with people suffering mental health crises, we call on all Ottawa city councillors to support the motion by councillors Shawn Menard and Catherine McKenney that the Ottawa Police Services Board hold public consultations to find alternative models of non-police response to people having mental health crises.
We are very pleased that OPSB Chair Diane Deans moved a motion at the Oct. 26 OPSB meeting calling for the Board’s Policy and Governance Committee to review the OPS’ use-of-force policy and we look forward to being involved at every stage of that review.
The Ottawa Police Service’s slogan is, “A trusted partner in community safety.”
Ottawa’s Black residents will not trust the police, see them as partners or feel safe until we see concrete progress on these actions.
613-819 Black Hub, Parents for Diversity, African Canadian Association of Ottawa, Justice for Abdirahman Coalition, North-South Development Roots and Culture Canada
English – Robin Browne, 613-819 Black Hub, 613-252-4232, email@example.comFrançais – Ketcia Peters, Nord-Sud développement racines et culture Canada, 613-606-3540, firstname.lastname@example.org