The Ottawa rally included the families of 10 people who died or were injured in clashes with police: Anthony Aust, Eishia Hudson, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, Jermaine Carby, Jamal Francique, Chantel Moore, Andrew Loku, Abdirahman Abdi, Rodney Levi and Chantelle Kroupka. Each family shared their own stories, and some called on the federal government to make changes to fund, disarm and dismantle police forces across the country. Some of the speakers said they wanted the money that usually funds police groups to go to families affected by violence.
The event took place a day after a video was released showing Montreal police officers kneeling on the neck of a 14-year-old. It also coincided with Juneteenth, a holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States that had just been turned into a federal holiday.
“We regularly see police murders where now it’s just something we see on the news and we kind of get on with our lives,” said Syrus Marcus Ware, one of the rally’s organizers and member of the main team. with Black Lives Matter Toronto.
“It is outrageous that we have come to accept this level of brutality from a force we are paying for – billions upon billions of dollars that could be reinvested in our communities. “
Ware said it was important for families to tell personal stories about loved ones instead of relying on media or police reports, which Ware criticized as flawed.
Victim’s mother wants action, not an apology
Nhora Aust spoke about her son, Anthony Aust, who died after falling from a window of a 12th floor bedroom in Ottawa in a raid without knocking on his home. The Ontario police watchdog was investigating his death.
Nhora Aust said she did not want an apology, but rather action from the federal government.
“They didn’t just take my son’s life. They took my life, they took the life of his father, his brothers and sisters ” [lives], ” she said.
“I’m asking you to stop doing this, because as we speak… every day there are children going through this, there are families going through this. “
“The system is built against us”
William Hudson spoke to those in attendance about his 16-year-old daughter, Eishia Hudson, who died after being shot by police in Winnipeg in April 2020.
“She had her whole life ahead of her,” Hudson said. “She was a good child, she had no criminal record. “
The Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba, one of Manitoba’s police oversight bodies, reviewed the case, but the officer who shot her was cleared of any wrongdoing.
“Why are former police officers, ex-cops, [are] working in these investigation units? Hudson asked the crowd.
“The system is built against us, and that is why we are here today, in solidarity. “
In an interview with CBC The House, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has said the federal government recognizes that systemic racism exists in Canada’s criminal justice system and is committed to changing that.