Spartacist Canada No. 190

Fall 2016


Cops Kill Abdirahman Abdi in Ottawa

As U.S. police maim and butcher black people, their Canadian counterparts enact similar racist violence with sickening frequency. On July 24 in the Ottawa neighbourhood of Hintonburg, the cops killed 37-year-old Somali immigrant Abdirahman Abdi. The thugs-in-blue attacked Abdi with pepper spray and batons outside his apartment building, then beat him to death. A man who witnessed the killing called it “the most gruesome thing I ever saw in my life.” Abdi, who had mental health issues, was described by a social services centre receptionist as a “teddy bear” who was seeking counseling. Yet again, a person’s skin colour and mental illness were enough to sign his death warrant by the state.

Abdi’s death sparked a protest on July 30 in Ottawa, where over 500 demonstrators marched on police headquarters. This was soon echoed by protests in other major Canadian cities such as Toronto, Vancouver and Edmonton the following month. Furious demonstrators remembered other recent police killings: in 2008, the Montreal cops murdered Fredy Villanueva, a youth of Honduran origin; in 2013, they killed Syrian Canadian youth Sammy Yatim on a Toronto streetcar; in 2015, they shot South Sudanese immigrant Andrew Loku to death in his apartment building in the same city. This barely begins the roll call of victims of police terror.

We communists stand with Bolshevik leader V.I. Lenin, who called the police “a professional caste of men trained in the practice of violence upon the poor.” Enough! The cops are strikebreakers, mad dogs who serve the filthy rich capitalist parasites who rule Canada. In our article “Cops Terrorize Black Toronto,” we explained that “police violence and racism are intrinsic to class-divided capitalist society and cannot be ended without sweeping away this system” (SC No. 186, Fall 2015).

The situation cries out for a mobilization of the multiracial, multiethnic working class. Ottawa is a city increasingly populated by immigrants from Africa, the Near East and around the globe with a heavily unionized workforce concentrated in the federal public sector. Protest action centred on the power of labour can give a taste of the kind of social forces that must be brought to bear in order to not only avenge the victims of police terror, but to uproot and smash the exploitative capitalist order which spawns such racist barbarism.