Ottawa police remove demonstrators from downtown intersection following two-day call for action

OTTAWA — Thirty-six hours after several advocacy groups blocked a busy downtown Ottawa intersection to call for justice for Black and Indigenous people, Ottawa police broke up the demonstration early Saturday morning.

Twelve people are facing charges after Ottawa Police moved in at 3:30 a.m. to remove the group from the intersection of Laurier Avenue and Nicholas Street.

In a statement, Ottawa police say the demonstration disrupted regular traffic and blocked a route for emergency responders.

“Police offered demonstrators multiple locations to relocate the demonstration,” police said in a statement at 5:26 a.m.

“After multiple warnings to the demonstrators, this morning at 3:30 a.m., Ottawa Police removed demonstrators from the area and laid multiple charges against 12 individuals.”

The Justice for Abdirahman Coalition posted video on social media of dozens of officers at the site overnight.

In the video, the Justice for Abdirahman Coalition says police “moved in closer and closer. They did not let us clean up our belongings.”

The protest, a call to action for Black and Indigenous rights, started Thursday afternoon at city hall before making its way to Laurier Avenue and Nicholas Street.  It was organized by several groups, including the Justice for Abdirahman coalition, the Ottawa Black Diaspora Coalition and the KZ Land Protectors.

Organizers say the demonstration is a show of solidarity between Anishinabeg and Black Lives. It is also a call to action, with organizers listing 10 demands including a freeze of the Ottawa Police budget, changes within the education and health care systems.

“When you think about the types of racism that exist today, there’s different levels,” said Victoria Marchand, a community member of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation. “We’re looking at a real systemic issue.”

On Twitter, Councillor Shawn Menard said a group of councillors were scheduled to meet with the leaders on Saturday. 

The protest started with some tense moments Thursday afternoon. A video posted online shows a vehicle driving through the crowd as dozens blocked the intersection. An organizer said Friday afternoon that one member of the group had gone for X-rays as a result.

The demonstration also comes following news that the provincial Crown will not appeal the acquittal of Ottawa Police Const. Daniel Montsion. In a release, the Justice for Abdirahman coalition called the decision “cowardly,” saying it “officially sanctions police violence and white supremacy against Black, Indigenous and People of Colour and people with dfsabilities in Ottawa.”

In an emailed statement to CTV News, a spokesperson for the Ministry of the Attorney General said:

“The Crown’s right of appeal from an acquittal is limited to errors of law, and does not include errors relating to factual matters. After a thorough review of the judge’s decision and the legal aspects of this case, the Crown has concluded that there is no legal basis upon which to appeal the acquittal.”

– With files from CTV’s Jeremie Charron, Matt Skube and Michael Woods

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