OTTAWA — NDP MPP for Ottawa Centre, Joel Harden, and NDP MPP Laura Mae Lindo (Kitchener Centre), the Official Opposition’s Anti-Racism critic, released the following statement in response to an internal Ottawa police report on the strained relationship between racialized communities and Ottawa police:
“Sadly, the sense of fear and betrayal expressed by the communities in this report isn’t new. That many racialized parents — in Ottawa and throughout the province — are deeply fearful of interactions between their children and the police is an ongoing, deeply troubling reality. According to the Ottawa police report, many from the Muslim community are afraid to report to police hate crimes committed against them, for fear of drawing attention to themselves.
More than two years after Ottawa resident Abdirahman Abdi, a Somali-Canadian with mental health issues, was violently killed by police officers while trying to go to his home, Ottawa’s Somali-Canadian community remains grief-stricken. It’s clear that racialized groups in Ottawa, and particularly, individuals from Somali, Black, Indigenous and Arab communities, continue to be treated inequitably as a result of systemic racism.
Ottawa police must work with local communities to ensure this report’s recommendations are implemented. They must acknowledge and do the work — through education, training and grassroots community consultation — of rooting out and eliminating the systemic barriers, discrimination and racism that remain present in the force.
But police can’t, and shouldn’t, be alone in doing this work. It is the government’s responsibility to work towards eradicating systemic discrimination in our province. That is why the Ford Conservatives’ gutting of the Anti-Racism Directorate and the vital work it was meant to do is so disturbing. People deserve to feel safe and protected by their public institutions. The Ford government’s refusal to step up and support this work is wrong, and it is dragging our province backwards.”