Sunday, July 31, 2016

Sammy Yatim and the Legacy of Hope

In one of my last posts I looked at the tragic case of Sammy Yatim who was killed on a Toronto streetcar by police officer James Forcillo.

Who shot the troubled teenager barely a minute after arriving on the scene, rather than take the time to negotiate a peaceful resolution.

And now I want to know why police officers in Ottawa killed this mentally ill man so quickly and so brutally.

When Abdirahman Abdi was unarmed, and only trying to get into his home .

Witnesses say that when he arrived home, he was hit by two police officers, who used batons and pepper spray as he tried to get inside his building. 

“When Abdi stop and he tried to open the door, he immediately – he beat him,” said Zainab Abdallah, who lives in the same building and said she witnessed the incident from the street. 

 “They hit, until he pass away. Until he dead, they hit together.”

Where he wouldn't have been a threat to anyone, and could have been talked into surrendering.

And like Sammy Yatim did not deserve such a cruel fate...

For who are those brutish police officers who think they are judge, jury, and executioners?

And what kind of country do they think we're living in?

Oh boy, it's the kind of case that both infuriates me and depresses me deeply. For my heroes are healers not killers.

So I have to thank my friend Kev, for bringing this story to my attention. 

Emergency task force members successfully helped coax an armed man who Toronto police describe as "in crisis" off a bus in North York Saturday after five hours of negotiation.

A doctor, along with a negotiation team reasoned, with the man for several hours before managing to safely coax him off the bus and apprehend him under the Mental Health Act.

For it made my day. It is the way that kind of incident should be handled. Negotiating a peaceful resolution like Canadians, instead of killing people like Americans.

And because I am an optimist, I dare to hope that the way the ETF members acted serves as a lesson to other police officers.

I want to believe that they were influenced by the execution of Sammy Yatim.

So we can one day say that we are better than that. That we do not kill the mentally ill.

And that poor troubled Sammy left a legacy of hope.

And did not die in vain...

Let their also be justice for Abdirahman Abdi.

And may it never happen again...

Please click here to recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers.


  1. Anonymous1:45 AM

    I hate the fact you have to point out that negotiation works, and should be the default position of any police standoff. GS

  2. Anonymous6:15 AM

    You beat me to the North York example. I was watching the news last night and saw this.

    Again there was no one on the bus as the police arrived. I was actually taken aback when they said the negotiations were 5 hours. My first thought was well done.

    And it was handled the way it should have been, in both cases.

    I want to think that Forcillo is a one of a minority who should not have made it to the Police force and not just the fact that because he was convicted being the only reason 'force' was not used to remove this individual.

    As for the Abdi case. It appears to be bad but we will have to hear more details but it looks bad.

    The Tor Star has a good video on the case.

    Anon 2

  3. Anonymous10:06 PM

    Great post Simon.Too often we just focus on injustice and not the good. This one sided focus increases the polarization between groups and ends up doing more harm than good.