FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Horizon Ottawa calls for defunding of the Ottawa Police Service and resignation of Mayor, Police Board chair, and senior city and OPS staff amid Sloly's resignation
Horizon Ottawa recognizes former Chief Peter Sloly’s inaction has been a significant contributing factor in the City’s dismal response to Ottawa’s ongoing occupation by the “Freedom Convoy.” However, we also know that other high-ranking members of City and OPS leadership have also failed our community. We call for the defunding of the Ottawa Police Service and the immediate resignation of Mayor Jim Watson, Police Services Board Chair Diane Deans, and other City and OPS officials who have ignored the community’s repeated calls for accountability.
Yesterday morning, multiple media outlets reported Peter Sloly would be resigning from his post as Chief of the OPS at today’s meeting of the Ottawa Police Services Board (OPSB). After multiple delays over several hours, OPSB Chair Diane Deans confirmed Tuesday afternoon that Sloly and the OPS had reached a “mutual agreement” ending Sloly’s employment by OPS.
Former Chief Sloly was brought into the OPS as an external hire two years ago with the explicit mandate to address systemic racism within the force. From the beginning, the deck was stacked against him, and there have been consistent reports that officers have resisted attempts to acknowledge and address systemic racism within the OPS. While there is no love lost between Sloly and Horizon Ottawa, we also recognize that his departure speaks to a wider culture of corruption and white supremacy that permeates every level of the Ottawa Police Service. We refuse to let other city leaders use a Black man as a scapegoat for their failure and inadequacy.
Sunday’s counter-protest at Bank and Riverside, now being called “The Battle of Billings Bridge”, was to date the only action that effectively stopped the entry of convoy members into the downtown core. Still, not even an hour into his new role, Acting Chief Bell decried counter demonstrations and asked for even more money for the OPS - despite having spent over $14 million so far with nothing to show for it. The failure of OPS highlights what Black, Indigenous and other activists of colour have long told us: that this institution does not keep us safe.
The OPS are unable to fulfill their legal obligation to ensure the safety and security of all persons living within the City of Ottawa. We thus repeat the calls that we and countless other Ottawa residents, including members of Ottawa’s Black and Indigenous communities, have been making for years now: the Ottawa Police Services Board must immediately freeze the OPS budget at 2021 levels, and commit to detasking and defunding the Ottawa Police Service.
Peter Sloly is not the only person who has failed to keep our city safe. The rot that allowed this occupation to take hold is deep-seated and permeates leadership at both the City and the OPS. Horizon calls for the immediate resignation of the following individuals, effective immediately:
Mayor Jim Watson
Ottawa Police Services Board Chair Diane Deans
Acting OPS Chief Steve Bell
Deputy OPS Chief Trish Ferguson
City Solicitor David White
All of these individuals have contributed to the inaction and appeasement that have allowed the “Freedom Convoy” to control the core of our city as well as parts of Vanier, Overbrook, and Nepean over the last three weeks. City Solicitor David White failed to pursue a noise injunction to end the incessant honking tormenting downtown residents, leaving a 21-year-old resident to do his job for him. Ottawa Police have repeatedly stood by and ignored blatantly illegal activities and, allegedly, have in some cases even aided illegal occupiers. Jim Watson’s pathetic negotiation with convoy leadership has allowed them to tighten their grip on the parliamentary precinct while simultaneously granting them the legitimacy they so crave. None of these people deserve the trust or authority their offices confer.
We know police do not and will not keep us safe. Community keeps us safe. Solidarity keeps us safe. Unity keeps us safe. We believe that the only path forward for our city begins with the resignation of the individuals named above, and an immediate commitment to defund the Ottawa Police Service.
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