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The death of a 37-year-old mentally ill Black man at the hands of police last week has the Canadian community in an uproar.
Hundreds of protestors took to the streets of Ottawa on Saturday to call for justice after Somalian resident Abdirahman Abda died following a confrontation with police on July 24. According to the Ottawa Sun, police were responding to a disturbance call about a man allegedly groping a woman’s breast at a local coffee shop when they arrived on the scene. Police reportedly chased Abda to his apartment, where several witnesses said he was then pepper sprayed before being brutally beaten by the arresting officers and left lying on the ground in handcuffs while awaiting the arrival of EMT. Paramedics later arrived to find Abda lifeless without any vital signs.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson was among the nearly 600 mourners in attendance for Abda’s funeral on Friday. Officials have continued to call for “patience” from residents as the Ottawa Special Investigations Unit looks in to the incident to determine whether or not the law enforcement involved were responsible for Abda’s death. Despite their connection to the incident, Ottowa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau confirmed that both officers who arrested Abda prior to his death are still employed with the department. “One officer is on leave and the other officer is conducting investigative work right now,” Bordeleau told media.
Although tensions remain high in Ottawa, the protest was reportedly peaceful, with no arrests made or incidents occurring between police and demonstrators.
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