Retired firefighter Greg Birtch launches Pro-Abdi wristbands campaign

Proceeds will go the family of Abdirahman Abdi, who died following a confrontation with Ottawa police

By Amanda Pfeffer, CBC News  Mar 30, 2017 

Greg Birtch

Greg Birtch

Retired firefighter Greg Birtch decided to order his own wristbands in a counter campaign to the police wristband campaign in support of Const. Daniel Montsion. (Greg Birtch/Facebook)

Abdirahman Abdi, 37, a Somali-Canadian with mental health issues, was pronounced dead a day after what witnesses described as a ‘violent’ interaction with Ottawa police. (Abdi family)

A retired Ottawa firefighter is launching his own line of wristbands in solidarity with the family of Abdirahman Abdi as a counter to a police campaign in support of the officer charged with manslaughter in Abdi’s death.

Retired Ottawa firefighter Greg Birtch said he was deeply offended and embarrassed by news that some members of the Ottawa police had ordered wristbands embedded with the words “United We Stand, Divided We Fall” in support of Const. Daniel Montsion, the officer charged with manslaughter in the death of Abdi, a Somali-Canadian.

Birtch has ordered 500 of his own bands, featuring the blue of the Somali flag, as well as the flag’s star, and the words “Stand with Abdi.”

He said he will be selling the bands at $2 a piece when he receives them next week with the profits going directly to the Abdi family.

Birtch said he’s seeing plenty of interest on his Facebook page.

“I think this has touched a nerve in a lot of people,” said Birtch.

Composite of the Stand with Abdi wristband

Greg Birtch has made these wristbands to support the Abdi family.

Wristbands a ‘slap in the face’ to family

The retired firefighter said he understands why its important for officers to stand together, but he said the police wristbands don’t consider the feelings of others.

“You know there’s a lot of ways they could have stood together without doing this,” said Birtch. “I think it’s sort of a slap in the face to a lot of people, and a slap in the face to the family.”

Ottawa’s police chief Charles Bordeleau had issued a statement urging caution about the wristbands, saying community perceptions must be taken into account and that the wristbands should not be worn during working hours.

Coun. Eli El-Chantiry, the chair of the Ottawa Police Services Board, also issued a statement urging officers to take a step back and “reflect on the bigger picture.”

“This is not the way we want to police our city or our community,” said El-Chantiry. “Any clothing, any messaging to divide our community we should stay away from.”

 Montsion is next scheduled to appear in court on May 1. None of the allegations against him has been tested in court.

Sources: CBC News

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