Soleiman Faqiri – Canada’s George Floyd?

No, not if we continue to allow our police services and provincial government to erase Soleiman’s existence with a gag-order-settlement and a years-from-now nonconsequential inquest.

No, not if we don’t demand all three levels of government address the need for mental health initiatives and social programming in our neighbourhoods and change the way we treat people in distress who come into conflict with the law.

No, not if we don’t stop jail and prison guards from disregarding policy, the law, and just simple human decency.

Two events in early March presented another opportunity to keep Soleiman’s name in front of the men who would rather not hear it.   Two events that open this latest letter…….

April 5, 2023

Thomas Corrique, Commissioner,                  Mark Mitchell, Chief,
Ontario Provincial Police,                              Office of the Chief of Police,
Lincoln Alexander Building,                           Kawartha Lakes Police Service,
777 Memorial Avenue,                                    6 Victoria Avenue North,
Orillia, ON  L3V 7V3                                      Lindsay, ON  K9N 4E5

Commissioner Corrique & Chief Mitchell:

In the early hours of March 6, 2023, Jeffrey Munro was assaulted by four men and stabbed in downtown Toronto.  He died later in hospital.  Police in Toronto have named four men who have been or will be charged with second-degree murder.

Irvo Otieno died in custody at about the same date in a facility near Richmond, Virginia.  Seven sheriff’s deputies and three hospital employees have been charged with second-degree murder.

The outcome of the charges against these fourteen men and women will be determined by the courts, but police in both cases understood that Jeffrey Munro and Irvo Otieno did not die from an act of God, but rather was due to the deliberate actions of the people who have been charged.

And so it was that the Kawartha Lakes Police Service investigated the death of Soleiman Faqiri on December 15. 2016 at the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ontario, but could not assign blame.  A second investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police came to the same conclusion.  The OPP was prompted to look again, but with the same result.

You have the names of every person who entered Soleiman Faqiri’s cell during the assault.  You know the only reason the jail guards were there was to “teach the inmate a lesson” for giving them a hard time earlier, a common practice in Canada’s jails and prisons.  You know that every one of those individuals was either actively or passively responsible for this man’s death. 

The family and supporters of the thus-far absent justice for Soleiman are now to be satisfied with a far-off inquest, years from now when the man’s name will be archival to the general public.  The inquest’s recommendations will focus on avoiding future such deaths, even though others will die similarly in the meantime.

No matter.  It will come to nothing.  Good on you.

Charles H. Klassen

cc:       Myron Demkiw, Chief, Toronto Police Services         Wendy Gillis, Toronto Star
Michael Kerzner, Solicitor General, Ontario             Yusuf Faqiri

Nothing will change the narrative around Soleiman’s death without the participation of people like you and like me.

Nothing will change the outcome of future deaths in custody without the participation of people like you and like me.

You can’t do nothing when you can do something.
Joyce Milgaard (1930-2020)

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