End the weaponization of 911 against BIPOC in Ottawa

End the weaponization of 911 against BIPOC in Ottawa

24,870 have signed. Let’s get to 25,000!
Petition to
Jim Watson (Mayor of Ottawa) and

Why this petition matters

Started by Tasia Brown


The recent story of Ntwali Bashizi, a young, Black man studying law at Carleton University, being falsely reported to police while innocently out for a bike ride in Ottawa, is a recent example of how 9-1-1 is often weaponized against Black, Indigenous, and racialized people.

The incident involved a woman calling police when Ntwali refused to comply to her demand that he step off a trail bridge in Barrhaven, despite the fact that they were at a safe physical distance, and that she hadn’t asked any other passerby to do the same. She falsely claimed to police that he was intimidating her and demanded that they send an officer to remove him from the bridge. Once the woman had described his appearance to the Ottawa Police responder, they took her side in the dispute.

This incident is just the most recent example of racialized individuals being harassed and threatened by persons with privilege while doing everyday activities in Ottawa. In March, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) trustee Donna Blackburn harassed and made racially insensitive remarks to a Black teenager playing basketball in a park in Barrhaven. She reported the young man to by-law, threatened to follow him home, and insinuated that one day he would end up in prison.

Calling the police on innocent people from marginalized communities is a tool used to intimidate and exert privilege over Black, Indigenous and other racialized individuals and their communities as a whole. Filing a false police report against an innocent racialized person, not only violates their civil liberties, but it is humiliating, triggering, and in the recent case of George Floyd, it is life-threatening.

Calling 9-1-1 for any reason other than an emergency is a drain on a system designed to help people who are in a dire situation and are in real need of help. Using emergency services as a personal complaint hotline against Black, Indigenous and other racialized individuals is a waste of city resources, taxpayers’ money, and in the least, deplorable.

Ottawa Police Services have apologized to Ntwali Bashizi, admitting that the emergency service responder did not act appropriately in handling the call. It isn’t enough for the Ottawa Police to simply apologize for mishandling this situation. We need action, not apologies. People who make false, racially-biased police reports need to be held accountable. 

To end the misuse of emergency services as a weapon against Black, Indigenous and other marginalized communities, we need:

  • Publicly condemn the vexatious use of 911 / police calls to intimidate Black, Indigenous and racialized people in Ottawa.
  • Implement a fine that will be levied against individuals who use OPS as an intimidation tool in racially motivated incidents.
  • Commit to anti-bias training for police officers and emergency service staff to better assess and respond to racially motivated 9-1-1 / police calls.
  • Begin a public awareness campaign regarding the appropriate use of 911 and educate the public on other numbers that can be called to resolve incidents, especially those that involve mental health.

To ensure that Ottawa is a welcoming, safe and fair city for all its residents, we need to end racially motivated false police reports.

24,870 have signed. Let’s get to 25,000!