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Protesters arrested during black, indigenous Ottawa demonstration released




All the protesters arrested when Ottwapolice dispersed a downtown demonstration in support of Black and Indigenous people on Saturday morning have been released from custody.

The protest involved many advocacy groups, including the Justice for the Abdirahman Coalition, which was later formedthe death of Abdirahman Abdi, a man from Black Ottawa,during a violent arrest in 2016.

Demonstrators were sampled at the intersection of Laurier Avenue and Nicholas Street, near the University of Ottawa, as of Thursday afternoon.

Police dispersed the demonstration at approximately 3:30 of Saturday morning, removing protesters and charged 12 people with malice.

Following the arrests, protesters gathered outside the headquarters of the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) on Elgin Street to support those to be arrested.

Around 2:30 p.m., the Justice for Abdirahman coalition wrote on Twitter that all protesters had been released and thanked all those who had been protesting for the past two days.

The OPS also confirmed that all 12 accused persons had been released, as well as a young man who had received a warning.

Earlier Saturday, OPSsaid part of Elgin Street was closed to traffic, as were services at the police headquarters desk. They are both now reopened.

In a press release, police said the demonstration had disrupted traffic and blocked an important road for emergency responders, causing “numerous security issues”. The relief force offered protesters alternative locations in which to move and issued numerous warnings before closing the demonstration.

‘They did nothing wrong’

Following the arrests, the Justice for Abdirahman coalition displayed feelings of betrayal on Twitter.

Dahabo Omer, with the coalition, was one of the protesters who later gathered outside the police headquarters.

“We want our people to be released. We want them to be given their freedom; that is their right,” Omar said. “They did nothing wrong. They were peaceful.”

“They should not have been arrested. They were given 10 minutes to pack.”

Victoria Marchand, a member of the Anishinabe community, left and Dahabo Omer, of the Justice for Abdirahman coalition, stood outside the Ottawa police station on Saturday morning in support of the arrested demonstrators. (Sarah Kester / CBC News)

TheOttawa Police Services Board said its chair, Coun. DianeDeans, and members Coun.RawlsonKing and DaljitNirmanhad agreed on the tomeet with the conversation “for the purposes of a constructive dialogue” at noon on Saturday.

“Unfortunately, after the demonstrators were caught early this morning by the Ottawa Police Service, members of the community refused to meet,” the deans said in surprise. “We stand in the town hall ready and open to talk.”

“While we understand the concern with the decision to remove the demonstrators, the board could not interfere in the service’s operational decisions and was therefore not involved in the action,” the statement continued. “Police make operational decisions based on risk assessments and ensuring public safety.”

The protesters were also supposed to meet with city council members at 10 a.m., Omer said.

“There was a promise to hold a discussion,” she said. “The promise was broken by arresting members of our community who were exercising their right to demonstrate.”

Council Shawn Menard and Ottawa Center NDPMPP Joel Harden also expressed their dissatisfaction with police actions on social media.

“I’m hearing that there was no warning,” Menard wrote on Twitter. “The solution would happen in the morning with a meeting with [councillors]. “Instead, the situation escalated.”

A group of people gather outside the police station on Elgin Street in support of the detainees. (Sarah Kester / CBC News)

Councilor Catherine McKenney was outside the police station Saturday morning and said that as a city councilor, they felt compelled to show solidarity with the protesters.

“The protesters felt betrayed. I think, you know, it was unexpected,” McKenneysaid said.

Still, McKenney said, the arrests are police matters and the city council does not direct the operations.

According to police, the intersection of Laurier Avenue and Nicholas Street is now open and police continue to monitor the area.

The protest outside the Ottawa police headquarters has also ended.

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