FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Ottawa ON – March 29, 2017) The Justice for Abdirahman Coalition (Coalition) is expressing outrage and disappointment concerning the solidarity campaign by members of the Ottawa police service to wear wristbands in support of the officer charged with manslaughter. On March 6, 2017, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) concluded that Const. Daniel Montsion was responsible for the brutal killing of Abdirahman Abdi.
Today marks the first step towards justice for Abdirahman after the community and family waited patiently for the SIU to complete its investigation, and the launch of a bracelet campaign is a direct insult to those of us who stand against police brutality. What’s more is the insult and total disregard to the suffering of the Abdi family who are still grieving the loss of their family member.
The vile actions of this officer have traumatized this city. This particular act of solidarity demonstrates a blatant disregard for human life. “This is not a traffic violation we are dealing with, this is manslaughter, a cold-blooded killing of a civilian by an officer on the sunshine list” said Farhia Ahmed, Co-Chair of the Coalition.
Comments made Wednesday morning by Ottawa Police Association president Matt Skof are extremely short sighted and very shocking. In an interview he stated that the campaign had nothing to do with community relations and that the bracelet simply expresses support for a fellow colleague in ‘difficult profession going through a very difficult time’. “No one is contesting that policing is difficult. We honour and respect the hard work and sacrifice of those who serve and protect with dignity. The problem is with people like Matt Skof and other members who choose to wear these bracelets that tarnish the integrity of the police service”, added Ahmed.
Charges of manslaughter, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon are serious allegations and nothing to be celebrated or supported. “Imagine if the tables were turned and there was a fundraiser or support campaign for a civilian who brutalized and murdered an officer, there would be outrage” said William Felepchuk, member of the Coalition.
Aside from the indifference to the pain and suffering Montsion caused, this campaign is not only in bad taste it shows horrible leadership, bad judgement and it begs the question: what sort of precedent does this bracelet campaign set in cases of cold blooded murders?
We, as concerned citizens, are deeply disturbed by this campaign and urge all officers and members of the Ottawa community to not partake in wearing these bracelets. It is difficult to stomach the idea that 1200 bracelets were purchased to show support for an individual charged with manslaughter — police officer or not. We stand by the fundamental principle of the rule of law and, as such, reject the double standards accorded to Const. Daniel Montsion through this campaign. We call on the members of the Ottawa Police to show reason and discretion in this difficult time and to act with human dignity in mind.
As we have said many times during this entire ordeal, the problem with the Ottawa police is the actions of few going unchecked by the organization. It is high time for this narrative to change. As such, we also call on the Ottawa Police Board to stand up and take a concrete stance by issuing a directive to block these bracelets from being worn by any member of the police service during active duty.
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Justice for Abdirahman Coalition
The Justice for Abdirahman (JFA) Coalition (“the Coalition”) is a group formed within days of Mr. Abdi’s death. The Coalition is based in Ottawa and supported by local and national advocacy groups. The Coalition’s objectives are to obtain greater transparency, challenge racial inequity, increase support for mental health needs and bring positive change to our law enforcement institutions. The Coalition asserts that fairness, transparency and accountability in our law enforcement institutions are critical to ensuring all of our safety and security.