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African Canadian community divided over complaint about bias within the Edmonton Police Service


Sunday May 15, 2016
By Paige Parsons

Mahamad Accord with the Canadian Somali Congress speaks to the media during a town hall meeting with the Somali community held at Belvedere Community Hall in Edmonton, Alta., on Saturday, April 5, 2014. Attendees at the meeting discussed the case of two Somali-Canadian children, taken from their parents in 2008. Accord is advocating for more Somali parents to become foster parents to foster Somali-Canadian children. Ian Kucerak
Mahamad Accord with the Canadian Somali Congress speaks to the media during a town hall meeting with the Somali community held at Belvedere Community Hall in Edmonton, Alta., on Saturday, April 5, 2014. Attendees at the meeting discussed the case of two Somali-Canadian children, taken from their parents in 2008. Accord is advocating for more Somali parents to become foster parents to foster Somali-Canadian children. Ian Kucerak


EDMONTON  - An Edmonton man is planning to make a public complaint about city police relations with the African Canadian community at the Edmonton Police Commission meeting on Thursday.

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Mahamad Accord said that certain segments of the community distrust police and are unwilling to report instances of discrimination, and so the complaint to the commission is meant to be on their behalf. He also said the aim of the complaint isn't to target any individual officers.

"What we see is individual police behaviour is produced by systemic discrimination in the policy of police," Accord said.

Accord is the founder and CEO of the Taccalusa Institute, an organization that advocates for human rights, diversity and equality.

However, other members of the local African Canadian community object to Accord's arguments.

"He does not speak on behalf of the community. Nobody supports the idea he is selling right now, and he is doing it for his own benefit," Somali Canadian Woman and Children Association executive director Sahra Hashi said.

Hashi said that the relationship between Edmonton city police and the community is a good one, though she said more services to address struggles faced by African Canadian youth would be helpful.

"We don't have any conflict, we don't have any issues, but there are certain areas that we need to see improved," she said.

City police Insp. Dan Jones said officers have been working to improve relations and develop trust with Edmonton's African Canadian community through regular attendance at community events, an effort that he thinks has been going well.

"The more we focus on the negative and issues of the past, without focussing on the positive and what's going on now, that erodes the ability to build those relationships," Jones said.

Accord said that he is planning a rally to coincide with his presentation at the commission meeting.

 



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