BASICS #16 (Nov/Dec 2009)
by Salma Al-Nadhir and Alok Premjee
The Justice for Alwy campaign (J4A) was launched in early 2008, just months after Alwy Al-Nadhir was shot and killed by Toronto police on October 31, 2007. This past Halloween marked the second year since his death. Over the past two years, J4A has been raising awareness about the issue of police brutality and helping other victims start their own campaigns against police brutality. The story of Alwy and other cases of police brutality have been echoed over and over again by the campaign and the families of all the victims. One of the main aims of J4A is for our victimized and targeted communities to obtain justice and hold police accountable for their tyrannical actions. Under the current state of affairs, police get away with murder with impunity.
The coroner’s inquest for Alwy Al-Nadhir’s death is scheduled to begin in December 2009. Even though his death will be investigated again by independent investigators, any wrong doing that is found by the police will still not lead to them being held to account for their actions. The ruling and the final decision as to whether the police should be charged was made in June 2008 by the Special Investigations Unit, a “civilian” agency that is staffed by former police officers. The police were exonerated of any wrong-doing.
Police officers are rarely, in fact almost never, held accountable for their excessive force and brutalization. The corporate media, judicial system and investigation process are always labeling the victims of police brutality as criminals, when the real criminals – those who are supposed to be protecting us – continuously get away with murder. There are countless cases of police brutality in our city – just scan through the last two years of BASICS to compare all the cases. But the province does not have the internal mechanisms to address police brutality. Since 2003, the SIU has cleared police of wrongdoing in 31 of 31 fatal shooting cases.
When we look to other cases where an inquest into police murders of young individuals was conducted, such as the case of Jeffery Reodica (who was shot in the back by Toronto police), the coroner’s inquest was biased and supportive of the police officers, despite the substantial evidence that implicated the police in his murder. However, no officer was tried and charged for Reodica’s death. Or more recently, there is the case of Freddy Villanueva, who was an unarmed 18-year-old shot to death by Montreal police while playing a game of dice – an incident that sparked community uproar in Montreal North. Villanueva’s inquest is currently being held and mainstream media reports around the inquest are, not surprisingly, justifying the police’s actions while also criminalizing Freddy and those with him that day.
As the inquest into the death of Alwy Al-Nadhir takes place, it is expected that the officer responsible for murdering Alwy will still never be held accountable and will not be charged for killing an unarmed 18 year old that did not have a criminal record. Furthermore, it is likely that the coroner’s inquest will justify the murder of Alwy and the corporate media will happily report and distort the story in favour of the police. Yet the struggle continues until the victims get their justice and such crimes are put to an end.