Over the past decades, police brutality has become more common in Ottawa. Whether it be homeless people being beaten, black men being stopped and investigated for no reason and blaming black men for drugs. I’ve chosen this topic because listening to news like this makes not just me, the whole community uncomfortable near cops. This relation between cops and community gives not just Ottawa but Ontario a bad name as this is spreading like wildfire across Canada. In general, I’ll be going over few cases of brutalities by Ottawa police after that I’ll place some light on broken window theory, relational space, and how races are targeted and at the end I’ll give my opinion on policies that should be put into place in order to regain the trust between community and police.
Trust between the community and the police is a major factor for strong relationships. However unjust use of power by the police diminishes the trust, not all police officers are racist but only a few of them can cause a big change. Over the decades the brutality by Ottawa Police has increased at a rapid rate especially after Abdi Rahman Abdi’s case. There were 2 brutalities reported in 2018, 1 in 2017, 1 in 2016, and 1 in 2011 (The Leveller, 2019, A Timeline of Police Violence).
One of the earliest cruelty reported on the Ottawa police was back on 22 May 1976. Ottawa police raided an LGBT Club and arrested 27 men, all of them were charged with false allegations. The humiliating part was that they weren’t allowed to dress before their arrest. They also took the membership list without the consent of the club owner however the list was later returned but they kept a record of the names.
According to a research carried by York University and Ontario Tech University. The traffic stop data of Ottawa police mainly targeted Middle eastern men and Black men but in total, the traffic stops made were reduced. The recent study showed rates of 2.9 times greater in 2015-2016 and 2016-2017, and 3.18 times in 2017-2018 for Middle eastern men and rates of 2.2 times in 2015-2016, 2.26 times in 2016-2017 and 2.3 times in 2017-2018 for black men (Levac, J. 2019). In another article I found, the police stopped, detained and questioned VISIBLE minorities for no reason alot more frequently compared to white drivers (Spratt, M. 2016). These two references 3 years apart show that the condition of Ottawa police is the same and is yet to remain the same way unless some action is taken by the community. In this case, supporting black lives matter would be effective. The first police tape released by LAPD showed how Rodney King was targeted and faced police cruelty which also led to the rise of Hip Hop culture in Los Angeles in the ’80s. Issues like these led to the creation of organizations like Black Lives Matter. The case of Abdi Rahman Abdi sparked outrage in the community of Ontario which led to protests being carried in Toronto in front of Police Headquarters which was guided by Black Lives Matter. The protest was in control and civilized but to end the protest police used their abrupt force with horses and smoke grenades which caused mayhem in the city, broken windows, burnt buses, burnt shops, etc. The protest was called off after the mayhem by Black Lives Matter as they didn’t want violence.
Relational Space means that space is based on the relationships between people and society. Police are a part of our society. Police cruelty leads to obstruction of rights and causes barriers between the public and the police. This makes the people feel unsafe around police and this is the opposite reason as to why cops exist. Broken window theory suggests that signs of disorder in an area leads to more serious crimes taking place in that area, therefore the police should target minor crimes like vandalism, drinking in public, etc. Rate of crime among youth immigrants is much lower than it seems but the police doesn’t believe it because of stereotypes, drugs are often used as a way to arrest black men even for a traffic stop, as discussed earlier about Rodney King’s traffic stop. Often the police have to find ways to place false allegations on their targeted victims and it is much easier to pick on people that don’t have much say in the community which is why white people often slide away with crime or in the police’s case they get away with false allegations.
To reduce racism in our community, we must support movements like black lives matter that raises awareness of police cruelty, this helps in exposing and dismantling structural racism. The second policy is to evaluate whether the law and guidelines have unintentional negative consequences for people of color and ethnicity. Similarly evaluate whether they disproportionately benefit white people, placing these two factors together and planning new policies that even out the level of playing field. I’d like to highly emphasize on is to support collaboration among all races in law enforcement systems. The last thing I’d suggest is that unjust use of power by enforcements should be punished rather than proving them innocent or giving them a suspension which seems to be the norm among courts in World wide, not just Ottawa.
- McDonald, J., Mar, Mcclerkin, J., RiverWheels, J., & Stephanie. (2019, February 10). A Timeline of Ottawa Police Violence. Retrieved from https://leveller.ca/2019/01/ottawa-police-violence/,
- Ottawa LGBT History: The Club Baths Raid: The Village Legacy Project: Le Projet de legs du village. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.villagelegacy.ca/items/show/119.
- Levac, J. (2019, November 21). Traffic stop data, diversity audit paint damning picture of Ottawa police. Retrieved from https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/police-race-data-report
- Spratt, M. (2016, October 27). Police racism? It’s part of the system. Retrieved from https://ottawasun.com/2016/10/26/police-racism-its-part-of-the-system/wcm/8b38cd1d-57db-42e5-9789-67cba27912c4.