Justice for Ntawli: Legal fees & Legal Fund

  On Monday July 6, 2020, Ntwali Bashizi, a Law student at the University of Carleton faced one of his family's biggest fears; that of having the police called on him for absolutely no reason.  
This experience has been traumatizing for Ntwali and his family. The days following the incident, we have reached out to several law firms as well as legal aid services who either did not answer, promised to call back or gave us various fees. 
Over the past week, we had several conversations with Ntwali Bashizi, his lawyer and his older brother. 
Ntwali wants the perpetrator to be held accountable for making false claims to the police and misusing the 911 service.
On Friday, July 10, 2020, Ntwali Bashizi accompanied by his lawyer, his older brother and our team went to the Ottawa Police. 
The Ottawa police acknowledged that:
- The oppressor misused the 911 dispatch service
- The dispatcher mishandled the situation.

This is a great first step. However, an acknowledgment is not justice. It is a step towards justice, but it is not justice until this woman faces the consequences of her actions and is held legally responsible. Once she will be held responsible, this will send a strong message to all folks out there, that there can be serious consequences to weaponizing the police service against people just because you unfairly deem them dangerous.As we await the result of the OPS investigation and the release of the full tape of the interaction between the woman who called the police and the 911 dispatcher, Ntwali's legal team is exploring various options which will be shared once they are able to review the tape (once the tape is made available to his legal team).
We are also encouraging Ntwali to seek help through a mental health specialist for the trauma that he experienced. 

LAWYER FEES & 
LEGAL FUND FOR BLACK FOLKS IN NEED OF LEGAL REPRESENTATION  

Out of transparency and respect for every single person who has donated, is planning on donating or invested themselves in this case, a full financial statement will be provided accompanied by a proof that ALL FUNDS raised are transferred to the legal team. A proof that all funds have been deposited in their account will be provided.
A Legal Fund will be put in place with the rest of the funds to assist black people in need of legal representation. 
An advisory council has come together which includes Elders in the community to work with the Law Firm on the development of this Legal Fund and ensure full transparency.
We have contacted several legal aid services with either no answer or a promise of a call back. We have spoken to different law firms who have given us different prices including extremely high rates per hour. 
We were able to find lawyer Michael Spratt who has a golden heart and truly cares about justice. 
Lawyer Michael Spratt takes all upfront work pro-bono for he believes that it's important to give back to the community. However, the family, as well as organizations who reached out to him would like to pay him for his work and we have asked lawyer Michael Spratt to give a breakdown of the fees. We also confirmed with him that all funds will be transferred to his law firm and a Legal Fund will be developed for future cases of black people in need of legal representation, as per the request of Ntwali Bashizi. 
Michael Spratt will be retained. Any funds deposited will be held in his firm's trust account. This account is monitored by the Law Society and there are rules about depositing, withdrawing and billing from this account. No money is ever taken out unless there is work done and a bill produced for the client.
If there is money in that trust fund and someone needs legal assistance, they can open a file for that person and the organization can transfer trust money from their account into the new client's file.

He is more than willing to honor the legal aid fees to ensure that a maximum amount of the funds raised go towards more folks in the community who need legal assistance. 

WHY DOES NTWALI BASHIZI NEED A LAWYER?
  For his protection! We have seen that institutions and some folks treat minority communities differently than they do white communities and people in power. 
A lawyer for a victim is not uncommon. We see it in a lot of cases because a victim is not an expert on how certain systems operate. A lawyer can help not only protect the victim but can help protect the integrity of the victim's evidence to  make sure that there are no contradictions or inadvertent errors or omissions in the victim's statement to the police, because any contradictions, omissions or inaccuracies in a statement, whither intentional or unintentional can lead to that evidence being given in reduce importance in court. A lawyer is able to be proactive on that front to make sure that there are no features or a statement or evidence that may reduce its value in future proceedings.

The lawyer is important to act as an advocate and to hold folks accountable. When they had the meeting with the police, Ntwali Bashizi did an amazing job of expressing how this event has impacted him and relaying the information that he was able to, as a first hand witness; but since the lawyer was there, he was able to ask some specific questions, that provided some useful information such as confirming that race was mentioned twice in the 911 call, advocating for a timely release of information so that they don't have to go through the Freedom of information release request process which can take months, and, confirming that there is an active police investigation. It's important that the lawyer asks important questions to not only confirm information but make sure that information is provided to them to hold all folks involved accountable so that we can make sure that justice is done!
The lawyer will also continue to bear witness to the interactions between Ntwali Bashizi and the police. 


It is important to note that Ntwali Bashizi is not charged with anything, he is not accused of doing anything wrong. The lawyer is there to advocate for him in ensuring that the person involved faces the consequences of her actions. 

It's way too early to say if a civil suit is an option as the investigation is ongoing. 
Advocating at an early stage is important. If there is ever a civil suit, it's important to have a lawyer before that civil suit begins to make sure that he doesn't do anything that can prejudice a human rights complaint, a civil lawsuit or other actions that may be taken in the future to get the remedy that he desires.
The pain experienced by Ntwali Bashizi is being transformed into concrete actions to demand change and provide resources for other black people in need of a good legal representation. 
  Oftentimes as black people, we are told to "just get over it". Sometimes we give up on seeking justice because we know that the system is not always for us or because the costs and process can be exasperating and brutal. Sometimes we give up because people question the impact and veracity of the experiences that we go through even when the truth is right in front of them. But we must never back down and always choose to do what is right in honesty and transparency for the truth always comes to light and justice isn't always just a mirage; an utopia.  
We will continue to surround this young man with love, support and resources while advocating.
We sincerely thank every person that is invested in this case and has supported this young man and his cause in various ways.

Here are ways to support Ntwali Bashizi's case:

Please donate for his legal representation via this gofundme campaign

Please sign the online petition on change.org to adopt a legislation to end racially motivated calls in Ottawa via the following link: https://www.change.org/p/adopt-legislation-to-end-racially-motivated-911-calls-in-ottawa?signed=true

Please send any information that you may have to: [email redacted] 

If you witnessed the incident, please send an email to [email redacted] 

 

The creation of this GoFundMe page has been approved by Ntwali Bashizi. Although it's been approved by him, it is important to note that any opinions expressed on this post are our own and not that of the victim, Ntwali Bashizi.

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Organizer and beneficiary

Justice For Ntwali 
Organizer
Ottawa, ON
Paula Whitelocke 
Beneficiary
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