On behalf of our student members at Carleton University, we stand united in expressing our overwhelming outrage at the killing of of Abdirahman Abdi, an unarmed Somali-Canadian man with an intellectual disability, outside 55 Hilda Street in Ottawa on Sunday, July 24, 2016. We condemn this appalling violence by Ottawa police that has resulted in such a heartbreaking loss for Mr. Abdi’s family. We send our love and prayers to the family, as well as the residents of their Hintonburg community who witnessed this violence.

We also stand in wholehearted solidarity with our student members from the Somali and other Black communities of Ottawa, for whom this tragedy is both terrifying and all-too-familiar. This violence by Ottawa police is another example of the racism, anti-blackness, and ableism embedded in the ranks of our city’s law enforcement. This violence is another reminder that the Ottawa Police Service’s stated mission “to protect the safety and security of our communities” does not always extend to Black people, new immigrants, or people with mental health disabilities. Black communities in Ottawa do not feel safe when they are the targets of carding, illegal searches, sexual assault, and other forms of police abuses of power. Furthermore, the targeting of marginalized communities by the Ottawa police is a legacy of the violent colonial foundations of our city, built on the stolen un-ceded territories of the Algonquin nation. Violence against Black communities and Indigenous nations emanate from the same structures and must come to an end.

We further recognize that the Somali diaspora in Canada faces unique and multidimensional forms of oppression and marginalization as a Black, Muslim, often non-English or French speaking, and economically marginalized community, many of whose members are newcomers or refugees. All these characteristics make the Somali diaspora community in Canada targets of intensified police surveillance and violence.

We are gravely concerned for the safety of Somali and other Black members of our student community living and studying in this city. We want the Somali and other Black members of our student community to know that we support them in this time of sadness, fear, and heartbreak.

For those who mistakenly believe that police violence motivated by race is a problem endemic to the USA: we urge you to read about, and remember Vincent Gardener, Wayne Johnson, Andrew Loku, Marcellus Francois, Leslie Presley, Alex Wettlaufer, Clarence Clemons, Buddy Evans, Eric Osawe, Reyal Jardine-Douglas, Junior Alexander Manon, Kwasi Skene-Peters, Jean-Pierre Bony, Ian Pryce, Fitzgerald Forbes, Frank Anthony Berry, Michael Eligon, Jermaine Carby, Trevor Kelly, Rohan Wilson, Quilem Régistre, Alain Magoire, Andrew Bramwell, Albert Moses, and many other Black people who died as a result of police violence in Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, and other cities in Canada.

We demand that Mayor Jim Watson, Kitchissippi Ward Coucillor Jeff Leiper, the Ottawa city council, MPP Yasir Naqvi, and MP Catherine McKenna take substantive action against racism, anti-blackness, and ableism embedded within the Ottawa Police Service, with direction from the Somali and other Black communities in our city. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) is not sufficient; the SIU process has come under fire from both media and Ontario’s ombudsperson for its failure to properly investigate police misconduct.

On behalf of the thousands of students represented by the Muslim Students’ Association (MSA) and the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) of Carleton University, we resoundingly affirm that #BlackLivesMatter in Ottawa, in Canada, and everywhere. We demand #JusticeforAbdirahman!

Ahmed Hassan
President, Carleton University Muslim Students’ Association (MSA)

Debbie Owusu-Akyeeah
President, Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) of Carleton University,
Local 78 of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS)