Saturday, January 12, 2008
Our communities must rally against the police execution of youth and demand accountability!
Alwy Al-Nadhir: a young high-school student, 18-years of age, admired by his friends, loved by his family, a good student, unknown to the law. These were the things that were said about the young man at a vigil held in his name exactly a week after he was shot dead in Riverdale Park by Toronto police on October 31, Halloween night.
On November 7, a week later, a couple hundred people gathered in Riverdale Park to attend a vigil organized by a local middle-class white woman who met Alwy only minutes before he was shot. Laurel McCorriston spoke to the crowd about how Alwy went out of his way to caution her and her dog about some broken glass that was on the ground. A few minutes later Alwy was shot by the police.
This story is highly contradicted by the ‘official’ story, which is that the ‘two officers interrupted a pair of teenagers attempting to rob two or three other youths’, the Toronto Star reported. In the official story, the mainstream media reported that ‘a replica gun was seized at the scene’. But the police have provided no evidence of this.
In an interview with Basics, Muna Al-Nadhir, Alwy’s mother said, “He was a wonderful boy...I don’t know what to say...he was very nice to his elders, to his sisters...it was such a shock! Every time I walk by his bedroom now, I must close my eyes”. This sentiment has been repeatedly echoed by his sisters and those who knew him.
Alwy’s cousin Fahmy commented: “One thing I remember about Alwy is his smile”. Alwy’s aunt Shuffe, who has sons who are close to Alwy’s age, told Basics that “I’m not even his mother, and all we talk and think about in our house is Alwy. During Eid [the Muslim Holy Day in December], when we were supposed to be celebrating, everyone was crying. Now I have to fear every time my children go outside.”
Alwy’s friends went on to say how decent Alwy was, and why a young guy who occupied his time with school, his family, and his part-time job at the spaghetti factory would be killed by the police. Alwy’s friend Preston told Basics, “he was just such a funny guy - I want to make sure Alwy gets justice”.
But that Alwy was such a wonderful person is really not the point. The police should not have the license to do this to nobody, no matter what the record or character of the person in question.
When the Filipino teenager Jeffrey Reodica was shot in the back three times and killed by two unidentified plainclothes police officers back in May 2004, the ‘official story’ said that he had a knife on him. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) backed up the police version of the story, and so the officers went free.
Thanks to a large scale mobilization of the community around the execution of Jeffrey, a Coroners’ Inquest was eventually established which clearly established that Jeffrey did not have a weapon when he was shot in the back three times. But the Inquest did not have the authority to overrule the SIU’s decision to exonerate the police officers.
Currently, the family is awaiting the SIU report as to what really happened that night.
But Alwy’s family and his friends know that justice will only be achieved building awareness and organization. Communities affected by police brutality need to learn the lessons from the Jeffrey Reodica case, and create a broad-based movement to end racist police brutality all together. Racist cops can not continue to have a license to kill our youth with impunity. They must be brought to justice!
If you’re sick of being the victim of police brutality and ‘racial profiling’, or seeing your kids face this kind of victimization, don’t mourn, organize! To oppose police brutality join the Justice for Alwy campaign and organize your school or neighbourhood. For more information contact the campaign at firstname.lastname@example.org.