Hundreds in Canada protest death of black man, demand change

Sat Jul 30, 2016 8:18pm EDT
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By Patrick Doyle

OTTAWA (Reuters) - More than 500 people rallied in Canada's capital on Saturday to protest the death of a mentally ill black man following an arrest, marching against what they see as race-based police brutality in a country that prides itself for being tolerant.

Abdirahman Abdi, 37, died on Monday after being hospitalized in critical condition following his arrest. Witnesses told local media he was beaten by Ottawa police officers who responded to calls of a disturbance.

His death echoed events in the United States, where a string of killings of black men by police and allegations of brutality and racial bias have sparked protests.

Protesters chanted "Black lives matter!" as they started marching, a reference to the U.S.-founded anti-police brutality movement, which has an official chapter in Canada.

"They murdered him! Enough is enough!" the protesters chanted as they approached the Ottawa police headquarters, where the march ended in the late afternoon.

Organizers had said they would respect the wishes of Abdi's family for the event to be peaceful, and while some protesters were so angry that others had to calm them down, none crossed the police barricade.

Police said there had been no arrests.

Abdi's family spoke briefly before the march, thanking supporters, although organizers have said they do not want to be interviewed.   Continued...

Protesters march in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada July 30, 2016 for Abdirahman Abdi, a mentally ill black man who died following his arrest by police. REUTERS/Patrick Doyle