Thirteen defenders of Black and Anishinabe lives arrested at Chiinawendiwen – We Are Related action in Ottawa
Photo: A still from a video by @RoughChopOttawa of the Chiinawendiwen – We Are Related action on the evening of Thursday November 19.
At 3:30 am on Saturday November 21, Ottawa police arrested 13 defenders of the human rights of Black and Indigenous lives on unceded Algonquin territory.
Twelve were charged with mischief, while one youth was released with a warning. Three of those arrested are Anishinabe, three are Black, and seven are allies.
The defenders had been occupying a major intersection (Laurier Avenue and Nicholas Street) in downtown Ottawa since late Thursday afternoon in a Chiinawendiwen – We Are Related action, also referred to as a Day of Action for Anishinabeg and Black Lives.
They were seeking to draw attention to a 10-point set of demands including: freeze the Ottawa police budget, more funding for Indigenous and Black students, and end dynamic entry, wellness checks and sexual assault by police.
Dynamic entry refers to a no-knock, no-announcement method of police entering a home and can involve using a battering ram to knock down the front door and the use of a flash grenade as tactical officers file into the home.
Last month, 23-year-old Anthony Aust jumped from his 12th-floor bedroom window in Ottawa and died after police used a dynamic entry method to enter his home.
The coalition is also calling for an “immediate end to the occupation of any and all contested Indigenous territories by police forces, such as the ongoing occupation of Haudenosaunee lands by the OPP [Ontario Provincial Police], and an end to weaponized injunctions against Indigenous land defenders.”
The groups involved in organizing the occupation included KZ Land Protectors, the Ottawa Black Diaspora Coalition, and the Justice for Abdirahman coalition.
The We Are Related action began on the same day that the Crown announced it would not be appealing the not guilty verdict in the death of Abdirahman Abdi.
Abdi died in July 2016 after being repeatedly punched in the head by Ottawa police officer Daniel Montsion who was wearing gloves with reinforced knuckles. In October of this year, a judge ruled: “The Crown failed to prove this was a substantial departure from the standard of a reasonable police officer.”
The Justice for Abdirahman coalition responded to the Crown’s decision to not appeal this ruling by stating: “We are outraged but not surprised. The Crown is a colonial institution with a history of genocide, racism and white supremacy against Black, Indigenous and People of Colour in Canada.”
The arrest of the 13 defenders in the early morning hours of November 21 came shortly after an agreement from members of the Ottawa Police Services Board that they would meet with them that morning to discuss their demands. Organizers have stated that the early morning police raid was a betrayal of that promise by the police board.
The CBC’s Deadly Force database has compiled data on police killings over the past 20 years in Canada and found that Indigenous people disproportionately accounted for 16 per cent of those deaths (though they are 4.21 per cent of the population) and Black people 8.63 per cent (and 2.92 per cent of the population).
Photo by @CPEPgroup.
Photo by @DiasporaOttawa.