Members of the Somali-Canadian community publicly condemned last week’s Project Traveller police raids, saying Tuesday that they were not executed in a lawful manner and that officers destroyed property that belonged to “impoverished” people.
“In the aftermath of the raids, many community members feel victimized, vilified and traumatized as a result of the reckless manner in which officers forcibly entered their homes,” Mahad Yusuf, executive director of Midaynta Community Services, said in a statement.
“Community members are angered by the destruction of property and disrespectful remarks made by some officers and the police brutality that they were subject to,” he said.
Toronto police as well as officers from across southern Ontario raided several apartment buildings on Dixon Road in north Etobicoke on Thursday as part of a year-long investigation into illegal gun trafficking and other crimes.
The raids saw 19 people arrested in Toronto and nine in Windsor, and in the investigation overall, 44 people now face 224 charges.
However, the Dixon raids unfairly targeted the Somali community and portrayed them all as possible criminals, argued the executive director of the African Canadian Legal Clinic.
“The community has been further stigmatized by the careless actions of some officers involved in the raid, and the irresponsible conduct of Toronto’s disgraced mayor,” Margaret Parsons said.
Parsons added the community was already dealing with racism and Islamophobia, and the raids portrayed the entire community as possible criminals.