Marchers protest police violence, demand institutional change in Ottawa

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OTTAWA — Chants of “No Justice No Peace” and “Black Lives They Matter Here” filled the streets of downtown Ottawa on Saturday.

More than 1,000 people took part in the March for Black Lives, organized by the Justice for Abdirahman Coalition.  The coalition was formed four years ago following the death of Abdirahman Abdi.

“This is pressure. This is what resistance looks like. This is us saying that we’re not going to wait, we’re asking for change today, right now,” said Dahabo Ahmed-Omer of the Justice for Abdirahman Coalition.

“So we’re going to be on these streets until that happens.”

Junior tells CTV News Ottawa, “If we’re not out here, people aren’t talking about it. Let’s keep this issue top of mind.”

“I really hope that people listen, and they are not just tweeting about it or social media about it. I hope their having uncomfortable talks and conversations.”

In a message on Facebook, the coalition said, “The Justice for Abdirahman Coalition, in collaboration with community partners, will be holding a march to stand against the violence inflicted on Black bodies that has been willfully ignored by our institutions.”

The march began in front of Ottawa Police headquarters, before walking north on Elgin Street to Ottawa City Hall.

Signs in the crowd said “Justice for Abdirahman Abdi,” “I Believe Abdirahman’s Life Mattered”, “Colour is Not a Crime,” and “Black Lives Matter.”

At the corner of Elgin and Lisgar Streets, the group yelled “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!” As the march proceeded along Elgin Street, the group chanted, “We will not rest until justice is served.”

The Justice for Abdirahman Coalition was formed within days of the death of Abdirahman Abdi in July 2016. Abdi died following an altercation with Ottawa Police officers. The trial continues for Ottawa Police Const. Daniel Montsion.

Volunteers handed out face masks and water to the participants of the March for Black Lives, as the temperature hit 32C Saturday afternoon. Most people were wearing masks while taking part in the march.