OTTAWA – The Executive of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO), of which three of six members identify as Black and two of six identify as Muslim, would like to express our outrage and sadness over the police killing of Abdirahman Abdi.
We extend our deepest and most sincere condolences to the Abdi family. The violent incident that took the life of 37-year-old Abdirahman Abdi on Sunday, July 24th is a clear demonstration of police brutality, which is disproportionally and specifically directed towards Black bodies. We, as a progressive students’ union, strongly believe in the power of strength in numbers, and wish to take a united stand against the anti-Black, ableist, and Islamophobic violence omnipresent within our society, including our police forces.
“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Abdirahman Abdi. It is shameful to witness the same people designated to protect us, harming us instead,” stated Hadi Wess, Vice President, Social of the SFUO. “There is a lot of work that needs to be done in order to dismantle the prevalent stigma around mental health and combat the pervasive racism and islamophobia that still exist in our society, even in 2016.”
Furthermore, we call upon the Mayor of the City of Ottawa, Mr. Jim Watson, to apologize for his silence on the incident, which indicates complacency with the current system in place. Mayor Watson has sent a clear message to the affected communities that he will not take a stand for citizens dying at the hands of his police.
We, as elected officials, be it of our local students’ union or any level of government, have a duty to represent and protect our fellow members and citizens before anything else. Mayor Watson’s lack of support towards the affected communities, in our opinion, shows a disregard of the recurrent violence against Black bodies, a topic which is increasingly discussed within the media, but has always been a reality for those facing it.
“You cannot support the family and affected communities while the men who killed Abdirahman are still on the payroll,” said Vanessa Dorimain, Vice-President, University Affairs of the SFUO. “The communities came together and met police at their headquarters with recommendations; we support these recommendations and will continue to put pressure on our policy makers until they are met.”
The recommendations are:
The original list of recommendations can be found online at the Justice for Abdirahman’s website.
The SFUO unites the voices of over 36,000 undergraduate students at the University of Ottawa.
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