Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made an appearance at an anti-racism protest on Parliament Hill as streams of people holding signs surrounded the streets on Friday, protesting the Black lives lost to police.
The Prime Minister also participated with the large crowd in a moment of solidarity by kneeling on one knee for eight minutes and 46 seconds, representing the length of time that the Minneapolis police officer held down George Floyd before his death.
Participants at the demonstrations took a knee around the Prime Minister who had put one knee on the ground and bowed his head in silence.
The demonstrations in Ottawa was one of multiple events held in Canada in the past few days to protest against racism and police brutality, especially following the death of George Floyd.
Organized by the No Peace Until Justice group, the goal of the event was to bring together Black activists and organizations as well as allies to their cause to stand in solidarity against police brutality and societal racism.
At the demonstrations, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tried to blend into the crowd of demonstrators as he heard speeches from activists and speakers who advocated for fairer treatment from police for minorities.
Demonstrators peacefully chanted, clapped, and waved signs that said: “Demilitarize the police” and “Say their names”, a slogan that urges people to remember the names of victims of police brutality.
The Prime Minister was accompanied by Families Minister, Ahmed Hussen, a Somali-Canadian who also spoken out about the racism he faced in Canada.
When seeing the Prime Minister participate at the demonstrations, Families Minister Ahmed Hussen said, “I think it’s powerful when you have the head of government taking a knee and clapping when people say ‘black lives matter”.
Despite a handful of people in the crowd chanting “Go Away!” and “Stand up to Trump!” towards the Prime Minister, Families Minister Ahmed Hussen found commented on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s participation at the event as “incredibly powerful for him to come and be a part of this”.
Earlier on Friday morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called out the videos and reports regarding confrontations with police across Canada in recent weeks as “disturbing”.
The Prime Minister had also addressed the issue of systemic racism in policing, saying it was long-standing and needs to be talked about.
“Far too many Canadians feel fear and anxiety at the sight of law enforcement officers,” said the Prime Minister.
In addressing the change needed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said it needs to start immediately but the change would not happen overnight.
“Over the past weeks, we’ve seen a large number of Canadians suddenly awaken to the fact that the discrimination that is a lived reality for far too many of our fellow citizens is something that needs to end.”
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