A year after the murder of George Floyd, black activists in Ottawa are working to remind Canadians to do more to fight racial injustice and police abuse of power – not just in the capital, but across the country. country. “George Floyd’s death is just one anniversary that we are going through,” said Alicia-Marie LeJour of the Black Diaspora Coalition in Ottawa. “An officer has been convicted… it’s all about responsibility. Justice for us [as Black people] it’s not having to experiment [police brutality] again. “
Floyd died after Minneapolis Constable Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Chauvin was convicted of second and third degree murder, as well as manslaughter, in April and will be sentenced next month.
Floyd’s death sparked global outrage and led to mass protests against police brutality, including one on Parliament Hill where the Prime Minister knelt. LeJour is concerned that, despite the thousands of people who showed up, much of the support was only “performative”.
“I feel like some really important conversations are starting to take place, but I’m seeing an increase in the number of performative activists. These are people who show up after a sensational event, like the death of George Floyd. People post their black squares on social media and pretend to be an ally – then silence. ”
She said Canadians must protest the deaths of Blacks, Aboriginals and People of Color (BIPOC) during interactions with police on this side of the border.
“Canadians are good at hiding our dirty laundry and sweeping our problems under the rug,” she said. “When someone says it doesn’t happen here – it’s a tactic of silence and it’s dangerous. “
Calls for racial justice in Ottawa
Just five months after Floyd’s death, Anthony Aust, 23, fell from a high-rise building in an Ottawa Police raid. Two weeks later, an Ottawa police officer was acquitted of manslaughter in the 2016 fatal arrest of Canadian Somali Abdirahman Abdi.
The Black Diaspora Coalition is planning a protest on June 6, calling on its allies to do more to support calls for racial justice.
Over the past year, small victories have been won in the battle against police abuse of power.
Despite Constable Daniel Montsion’s acquittal, the City of Ottawa quickly settled a lawsuit brought by the Abdi family. Under public pressure, and after a Fifth Estate surveyThe Ottawa Police Service, however, banned the temporary use of hitting raids in March, however, five days later the police entered a black family’s house without adequately announcing their presence.
‘The wind is in our sails’
Despite the slow progress, activists say the tragedy surrounding George Floyd’s death helped galvanize the movement to dispel police.
“Every year the police force ask for millions of dollars. Instead of giving them millions, because their own statistics show that crime is not going down, we should be investing money in social services, ”said Robin Browne, co-founder of 613/819 Black Hub Noir .
He said that by reducing the Ottawa police budget, the money can be used to create a non-police alternative to responding to mental health calls.
According to Chief Peter Sloly, the force is consult the community to come up with a strategy that improves police response to people in mental distress, but the process could take up to three years.
“It’s a stall tactic. It is unnecessary and unacceptable when people are dying, ”said Browne.
The 613/819 Black Hub plans to release its own plan detailing a mental health response to 911 involving doctors and social workers within the next two weeks, he said, but additional activists must maximize public support change and continue to fight resistance from the police.
“The wind is in our sails right now,” he said. “But it’s like pushing a rock up a hill. If you let go, this rock will come down. “
For more stories about the experiences of black Canadians -om anti-black racism to successes within the black community – check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project of which black Canadians can be proud. You can read more stories here.