‘We urgently need to reimagine how we keep Ontarians safe ‘


Ottawa  Police Service Constable Daniel Montsion who repeatedly struck Abdirahman Abdi, a mentally ill Black man, during an arrest four years ago,  was cleared on manslaughter and assault charges on Tuesday after a judge found he could not conclusively say the blows significantly contributed to the man’s fatal heart attack.

The death of Abdi sparked multiple protests against systemic racism and abuse of police powers,

Andrea Horwath

Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath released the following statement along with the Ontario NDP Black Caucus and NDP MPP for Ottawa Centre Joel Harden, in response to  Constable Montsion being found not guilty in the manslaughter death of Abdi:

  “Abdirahman Abdi should still be with us. We stand with Mr. Abdi’s family, and Black communities in Ottawa and across the province during this profoundly painful time. We cannot fathom the grief they are enduring, but we share in their pain. We also share their determination to get justice for Mr. Abdi and far too many other Black, Indigenous and racialized Ontarians – particularly folks living with mental illness – whose lives have been taken or shattered by systemic racism in policing and in the justice system.

Mr. Abdi was living with mental health challenges and deserved help. Instead, he was met with violent and ultimately deadly force. Shamefully, Mr. Abdi’s killing and the verdict today are not isolated incidents. They are part of a centuries old pattern of deadly and systemic injustice in Ontario and Canada that continues to this day, and includes the recent deaths of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, Ejaz Choudry and Anthony Aust.

Dr. Laura Mae Lindo, Faisal Hassan, Dr. Jill Andrew, Rima Berns-McGown and Kevin Yarde

Fundamentally overhauling these broken structures is the only way to break this destructive, oppressive pattern and achieve meaningful, lasting justice. We urgently need to reimagine how we keep Ontarians safe – especially Black, Indigenous and racialized folks and people living with mental illness.

That begins with making meaningful investments in mental health supports across the province and transferring responsibility for mental health calls to alternative first responders, who are equipped to do the work of de-escalating and providing people in distress urgent care. It means demilitarizing police forces by diverting spending on military-grade hardware, including tear gas and assault rifles, into community services. This also includes the ‘assault gloves’ Const. Montsion was wearing when he beat Mr. Abdi, which their manufacturer describes as ‘mainly used in live-action combat for active military members’. It also includes investing heavily in programs and supports that address the social and economic factors that influence people’s health.”

(The Ontario NDP Black Caucus is the first official Black Caucus in the Ontario Legislature. Its members are Laura Mae Lindo (Kitchener Centre), Jill Andrew (Toronto—St. Paul’s), Rima Berns-McGown (Beaches—East York), Faisal Hassan (York—South Weston), and Kevin Yarde (Brampton North).