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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Community calls for investigation after death of Toronto Somali transgender woman

(Medeshi)- At first, Lali Mohamed wanted to grieve for his friend Sumaya Dalmar and trust police to investigate her death.

But later, Mohamed had second thoughts about what he considers a long legacy of police failing Somali and transgender people like Dalmar. He and many others in Toronto’s LGBT community have decided to demand more from police.

“I owe it to my friend, and I think our community owes it to our sister and friend to find out what happened to her,” Mohamed says. “The way she lived her life – bravely, boldly and unapologetically – she inspired those around her to be the fullest and best versions of themselves.
“She used her life as an example.”

There are many unanswered questions about the 26-year-old’s death.

Police found Dalmar unresponsive in the area of Main and Danforth on Sunday morning after receiving a 911 call. She was later pronounced dead and an autopsy couldn’t determine the cause of death. Toxicology results have been ordered.

There’s no evidence to indicate the death was suspicious, police said. Dalmar’s friends disagree.

She posted a message to Facebook at 1:30 a.m. Sunday and a text was sent from her phone at 7:30 a.m., Mohamed said. The 911 call came from an unidentified person at 10 a.m.

Her friends want to know who made the anonymous call and if Dalmar sent the 7:30 a.m. text.

“We’re not sure if it was between 1:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. or 7:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. that something went wrong,” Mohamed adds.

Two people have come forward to say they saw someone who looked like Dalmar, wearing a white dress like she had been seen wearing, running from a confrontation. A man pursued her in a vehicle in the area of Sherbourne and Wellesley at 2:30 a.m., Mohamed says.

“It’s not enough to say that something was inconclusive, as a community, we need to demand more,” he said.

Sophia Banks knew Dalmar as a customer of the bar where she works. She’s worried about the investigation too.

“The cops have said: ‘Oh no there’s nothing suspicious.’ But if a woman’s seen being chased, and she’s found dead hours later, well, that’s suspicious, right?” Banks says.

Mohamed is running a GoFundMe.com campaign to raise money for a memorial, a commemorative tree and, if enough money is raised, a bursary in Dalmar’s honour.

A vigil is planned in her memory for Tuesday.