Joel Harden MPP / Député, Ottawa Centre

Government of Ontario

Statement on Ottawa police accosting Black youth at gunpoint outside a local mall

Published on December 31, 2020

QUEEN’S PARK — NDP MPP Joel Harden (Ottawa Centre) and Ontario NDP Anti-Racism Critic and Black Caucus Chair Laura Mae Lindo (Kitchener Centre) released the following statement in response to reports that approximately a dozen Ottawa police officers surrounded, detained, and hand-cuffed a group of seven Black youth at gunpoint outside the St. Laurent Shopping Centre:

“What happened to Chris Simba and his friends was gut-wrenching and horrific. Imagine being one of these young people – out at the mall planning a video shoot to combat gun violence, only to find yourself face-down on the ground, with multiple guns drawn on you. No one should have to face that terror, or deal with the aftermath of that trauma. All of our kids should feel safe, and know that they are valued. But instead, these young men – like far too many other Black Ontarians – faced the prospect of their lives being taken or shattered by systemic racism in policing and the justice system.

These young men, their families and communities deserve justice – starting with an explanation and clear repercussions for these inexcusable actions. We will be closely monitoring this case, and any forthcoming investigations, and we strongly urge the Solicitor General to do the same.

Unfortunately, Ontarians have scarce confidence that these broken structures – including police oversight bodies like the SIU – are equipped to provide meaningful answers or take the appropriate actions. Fundamentally overhauling these institutions is the only way to finally break this destructive, oppressive pattern and achieve meaningful, lasting justice.

We urgently need to reimagine how we keep our communities safe. This starts with a real carding ban with real monitoring and real consequences, rather than simply driving this corrosive and unlawful practice underground. It includes demilitarizing police forces by diverting spending on military-grade hardware and consciously shifting away from responses like we saw in this alarming case, towards de-escalation. And it includes choosing to heavily invest instead in the programs, services and supports that improve our health, and build up and knit together our communities.”