Black Lives Matter Toronto Blocks Traffic Over Abdirahman Abdi's Police Beating Death
A Black Lives Matter group in Canada temporarily blocked traffic in Toronto's bustling Yonge-Dundas Square on Monday, to force an investigation into the July police beating death of Somali-Canadian Abdirahman Abdi. Dozens of protesters lined the intersection at around 9 a.m. Eastern time, obstructing the flow of traffic, the CBC reported.
Several protesters held up a large blue banner bearing the name of Abdi, a 37-year-old who died in a confrontation with Ottawa police on July 24. The officers involved in the incident were suspended with pay, according to the CBC.
The intersection reopened at 9:30 a.m.
Protest organizers said law enforcement authorities have not been forthcoming enough about how Abdi died. They also called for Ontario's Special Investigations Unit to investigate all police interactions that result in a death or serious injury.
"We are calling for the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Eric Hoskins to start an investigation into how the Ottawa hospitals and the Ottawa paramedics collaborated with the Special Investigations Unit and with the Ottawa Police to withhold information about Abdirahman Abdi's time of death," Hashim Yussuf, an organizer of the protest, told CP24.com.
Abdi, who reportedly had mental disabilities, had been accused of groping people inside of a nearby coffee shop before the confrontation with police, the CBC reported. BLM protesters said Abdi's death in Ottawa was similar to other deaths of black men who died after encounters with Toronto police.
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Protesters also vowed to continue shutting down public spaces until there are reforms in the SIU.
"We've been mobilizing, agitating our community for almost two years now," Yusra Khogali, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto, said to CP24.com. "There is no police accountability when it comes to their death so we are going to continue disrupting space until we see action being taken."