Tonight at 8:30pm, a public memorial is being held at Somerset Square Park, between Wellington Street West and Somerset Street West.
The purpose of tonight’s memorial is to honour Abdirahman Abdi’s life, and to stand in solidarity with his family and Ottawa’s Somali and Muslim communities, as well as with countless other victims of senseless police violence.
This is a peaceful memorial, which is taking place close to the Abdi family’s home.
Everyone is welcome, and attendees are encouraged to bring chalk for writing on the sidewalk, and to bring signs to leave by the Abdi family’s home.
I emphasize once more that tonight’s memorial is a peaceful gathering. It is about honouring a life well-lived & unjustly ended. I understand on a personal level that emotions are running high, but I cannot stress enough that tonight is about unity and solidarity, and it is not an opportunity to express frustrations and anger in an undesirable manner.
If you plan on attending tonight, which I highly encourage you to do, please keep the peace. Please be respectful towards the Abdi family in their time of mourning.
Please come. Please show that black life matters to you individually and as a concerned citizen. Please show that we value life dearly and give honour and love where it is due. Please show tonight that Abdirahman’s life matters to you, to Ottawa, and to the world.
A few things to keep in mind if you do plan on attending tonight:
- The memorialwill begin at 8:30pm, and will take place at Somerset Square Park
- It is open to the public, and it is a peaceful memorial
- Feel free to bring flowers, signs (that are respectful and not vulgar), chalk, and so on
- There will be a memorial book for all attendees to sign
- Be respectful towards the family and friends of Abdirahman. Do not yell, use vulgar language or slurs, or display undesirable behaviour
- Travel in pairs on your way to and from the memorial. Activists, protestors and concerned citizens have historically been targeted by law enforcement. While tonight is an entirely peaceful memorial, law enforcement will be present at the event and in the surrounding area
- Be mindful of the fact that racism is alive and well in Ottawa. It is possible that there will be individuals near the memorial or in the surrounding area who are racist, and who will justify the murder of Abdirahman. These individuals are known to ridicule attendees of memorials and vigils of this nature. I myself was cussed at, threatened and ridiculed by a group of men who were in opposition to the vigil that was held for Sandra Bland at the Human Rights Monument last year on July 31st. Please do not let this deter you from attending, but let it act as a heads-up, and as further indication that there is much work to be done in the fight for justice and fairness here in Ottawa
Abdirahman Abdi, you should be with us today.
Your family and friends should not be gathering tonight to mourn over your death.
You should be enjoying the beautiful weather we’re having today. You should be living your life that was taken from you far too soon.
I’m sorry, Abdirahman. I’m sorry that you have become a victim of a system that consistently fails the citizens it swears to serve and protect. I’m sorry that your family has to go on without you, knowing very well that you should be with them today and many more days to come.
I promise that your life will continue to hold great significance and value. Your story will continue to be told for many years to come. And not just the story of your death, but of your life. The story of your beautiful existence that has graced this earth over the past 37 years.
I promise that your name will not be forgotten, and that it will not be remembered just in mourning, but as a signature of hope and belief in a better tomorrow. It will signify life’s fragility and beauty and value.