The Justice For Alwy Campaign – BASICS Issue #19 – May/June 2010
On March 22, 2010, the Coroner’s Inquest into the police murder of Alwy Al Nadhir began. Since it commenced, the Inquest has been a public display of the complete collusion of the state with police terror. The Justice for Alwy Campaign has been fighting against police violence in its most horrendous forms since Alwy’s death in late 2007, and we have seen to extent to which various arms of the state (community centers, government-funded groups, etc.) can be forced or intimidated into falling in line with the police agenda. Yet, even for us, the Inquest has at times left us with our jaws dropped at how naked and unashamed this process really is.
The judge’s opening comments clearly spelled out to the jury that the purpose of the Inquest would have absolutely nothing to do with delivering justice. The role was to identify the who, what, where, when, and how of the killing, without even the slightest indication of misconduct or immorality from the officers involved. Even if the inquiry were to uncover that the cops had lied and that the SIU covered up the execution of Alwy (as the SIU has indeed done), there would be no way to bring about any charges whatsoever. In fact, the only measure the jury and inquest could take if they found the cops to have “misbehaved” in any manner would be to put forward recommendations for “better” policing practices.
From Day 1 of the Inquest, the Coroner’s lawyer has consistently worked to criminalize and tarnish Alwy’s image, thereby justifying his murder. Rebecca Edwards, the coroner’s lawyer, told the jury that Alwy “…engaged in a series of dangerous and unfortunate events that led the police to use force that ended with tragic consequences…” Meanwhile, the two police officers who shot Alwy – P.C. Sean Raheim and P.C. Troy Noel Lashley – have been seen callousnessly laugh and cracking jokes while images of the victim’s body have been shown to the court. The Inquest has been a particularly enraging example of how police terror is extended far beyond the physical act of violence, inflicting further pain and suffering on Alwy’s family.
Remarkably, the Inquest for Alwy Al Nadhir was the first time in ten years that the Coroner’s Court has stationed Ontario Provincial Police officers at the entrance, frisking members of the public with a metal detector and checking their bags. However, the off-duty police officers in attendance, including the cops who shot Alwy, were not searched at all.
Much, much more can be said about the miscarriage of justice playing out at the Coroner’s Inquest, but the Justice for Alwy Campaign Against Police Brutality will wait until the Inquest has concluded to put out a comprehensive statement on the proceedings.
But what we can say with confidence is that the Coroner’s Inquest has left us with no doubts about how victims of police brutality and terror can attain justice in this system. The people cannot rely on the state to serve justice to them. Victims of police abuse, racism, assault, harassment and murder will never achieve justice through government apparatus, be it through the police complaints process, the Special Investigations Unity or the provincial Coroner’s Court system. The fact that the Coroner’s aid / lawyer in this inquest Rebecca Edwards – the supposed voice of the public in this trial – is herself a crown attorney who works regularly with the police shows just how much a farce of justice is being made. The only way of confronting police brutality is by coming together in our communities through grassroots education and organization. We must mobilize ourselves to demand and achieve safety for our youth and our people in our neighbourhoods.
The Justice for Alwy Campaign encourages the members of the public to attend Coroner’s Inquest for Alwy Al Nadhir from April 19 onwards (when the Inquest is set to resume) to support Alwy’s family and observe first-hand the way the (in)justice system works in Ontario.