Ottawa, February 4, 2019:
Joint community statement – Commencement of the criminal trial in the case of Abidrahman Abdi’s death
Local and national advocacy groups issue statement alongside the Justice for Abdirahman Coalition on the upcoming trial in the case of Abdirahman Abdi’s death.
On the morning of July 24, 2016, while many of us were just beginning our day, a tragedy took place in Ottawa’s Hintonburg community. Normally a vibrant and lively place, on this particular morning, Hilda Street, and our news feeds, were overcome with graphic images of a community member lying bloodied on the ground.
We quickly learned that it was the body of Abdirahman Abdi, a 37-year-old Somali-Canadian with mental health issues, who died following a violent encounter at the hands of an Ottawa Police Service officer.
Nearly three years later, on February 4, 2019, the criminal trial of Constable Daniel Montsion is set to begin. Constable Montsion is charged with manslaughter, aggravated assault, and assault with a weapon in connection with the death of Abdirahman Abdi.
Abdirahman’s death sent shock waves throughout our city and nation. Over the last two and a half years we, as community leaders and representatives, have worked together with our allies to pick up the broken pieces. We have organized community-building events, which forced us to have uncomfortable conversations, confront race relations, and grow as a community.
Although the circumstances that necessitated these gatherings were tragic, they have led us to success by way of policy and legislative reforms, and a memorial and scholarship in memory of Abdirahman. We have seen neighbours and strangers alike demonstrate the virtues of empathy and kindness. These are just a few examples of the beautiful and productive ways we have seen our community respond to this tragedy.
However, our work is not done. This trial reminds us that there is still a lot left to do to address the systemic racism within our police services and other institutions.
We, the undersigned, representing thousands of people across the city and nation, extend our hearts to the Abdi family, who through this trial, will be forced to relive the graphic memories of Abdirahman’s public beating and death. We have waited patiently for justice to take its course and we will be watching carefully as this important trial unfolds. We call for patience and solidarity through this trying time.
As community leaders and representatives, we look forward to the impartial application of the law so that we may reassure one another that everyone in Canada is equal before and under the law and has the right to its equal protection and benefit.
We sincerely hope the judicial process leads to a fair decision in this case and that the family finds some sense of closure.
Justice for Abdirahman Coalition
613/819 Black Hub
African Canadian Association Ottawa
Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 4600
Centretown Community Health Centre
City for All Women Initiative (CAWI)
Dominique Dennery Consulting
Hintonburg Community Association
Kimalee Phillip, Researcher
Larry Rousseau, Executive VP of the Canadian Labour Congress
National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM)
Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants
Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG), Carleton University
Ottawa Muslim Association (OMA)
Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership
Ottawa Young Black Professionals
Parkdale United Church
Public Service Alliance of Canada, National Capital Region
Somali Centre for Family Services
Somerset West Community Health Centre
Sulaiman Khan, Managing Director, Islam Care Centre (ICC)
William Felepchuk, Director, Muslim Family Services of Ottawa (MFSO)
Young Leaders Advisory Council