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MPP Lindo calling for investigation, suspension in Kitchener arrest

The arrest of a Black Somali man at a Kitchener gas station has come under scrutiny after video of the arrest surfaced online
WRPS Headquarters in Cambridge. (Erin Anderson/KitchenerToday)

A violent arrest in Kitchener caught on video is prompting Kitchener Centre MPP Laura Mae Lindo to call for a full, independent investigation.

And Lindo stated until this investigation is complete, she wants an officer seen punching the downed suspect --- identified as a Black Somali man --- to be suspended.

She said the arrest was "deeply troubling and part of a long-standing, ongoing and traumatic pattern of systemic racism and police violence against Black people."

"The video taken of this incident, in addition to first-hand accounts from eyewitnesses, makes it clear that police were informed and aware they were dealing with a person with mental health issues," Lindo added.

Lindo, who is the NDP critic for anti-racism and Chair of the Ontario NDP Black caucus, points out there were about a dozen officers on scene, capable of arresting the man without violence.

The incident happened, she says, while colleagues looked on without intervening and while bystanders pleaded with police to stop beating the man.

She wants an investigation that Black community members can trust, and results made public.

"At a bare minimum, Black Ontarians should be able to interact with law enforcement or receive help for mental health issues without fear of being beaten or killed," her statement continued, "We deserve to live in a truly just province, where we know we are safe and our lives are valued."

"We are long past the time for platitudes, hand-wringing and incremental change. Black Ontarians deserve a government with the political will to meaningfully and fundamentally dismantle systemic anti-Blackness in policing and all of our institutions."

It follows a post by the African, Carribean and Black Network of Waterloo Region, who called it an incident of police brutality.

On Tuesday, Regional Police Chief Bryan Larkin recounted the events of the arrest, and said any use-of-force by his officers are investigated automatically.

Larkin says he understands the concern from the community, and ensures the results of this review will come up at a later Regional Police board meeting.

But he notes that in this particular incident, police were concerned for their safety after they believed they heard gunshots.

No weapon was found during the incident, and police now believe the popping sounds they heard were fireworks set off nearby.

The incident started with a traffic stop in the Westmount Road and Karn Street area around 1:00 a.m. Sunday, when the man was issued a ticket for driving with no headlights.

The eventual arrest happened in the parking lot of a gas station at Westmount Road and Victoria.

CLICK HERE to see the initial report of the incident from police.

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