Lindo repeats call for overhaul of broken police oversight system that fails Black communities
KITCHENER – NDP Anti-Racism critic Laura Mae Lindo (Kitchener Centre) has released a statement after the actions of Waterloo Regional Police officers during the arrest of a Somali man last summer in Kitchener were deemed to be "reasonable, appropriate and lawful" by two investigations.
“Last summer, 15 officers surrounded a Black Somali man with known mental health issues in my community of Kitchener. At the time I said this horrific and violent arrest deserved a fully-independent investigation that the Black community could trust. The arrest, captured on video and witnessed by many bystanders, was part of a long-standing, ongoing and traumatic pattern of systemic racism and police violence against Black people.
The conclusion of the reports that this incident was ‘reasonable, appropriate and lawful’ do not come as a shock to the Black community members. We have been here before. Police investigating police does nothing to rebuild trust with law enforcement and with these inadequate investigations.
When 15 officers surrounding a Black person, particularly an individual with mental health issues, is deemed ‘appropriate’ we know the system isn’t working for any Black communities. Black Ontarians should be able to interact with law enforcement or receive help for mental health issues without fear of being beaten or killed.
While the findings in these reports are just as disturbing as the incident itself, what reports like these continue to show is that we need to dismantle systemic anti-Black racism in policing and all of our institutions. That includes fully-independent investigations of police violence, with representatives from the Black community. If we don’t, we will never begin to address the fundamental issues that allow these incidents to keep happening again and again without consequences for those involved.
We owe it to Mr. Abdisalam Omer, his loved ones, the youth who witnessed this incident and all Black Ontarians to fix the broken oversight system that keeps letting law enforcement off the hook for egregious acts of brutality like this. For there to be justice and real accountability, we can’t keep letting police investigate themselves. We need investigators with regular anti-bias and cultural competency training, and we need to the programs to be developed by the communities that police are supposed to be keeping safe.”