Earlier this week in Surrey, two male police officers slammed a 16-year old Black girl to the ground and handcuffed her. The officers (edit: one white, one South Asian) approached her while she was waiting for the bus, assuming she was someone else. When she told them they had the wrong person they threw her to the ground, handcuffed her, and one officer held her down with his knee in her back. Her response was one of absolute terror. When they finally realized she was not the person they were looking for they left the scene (after going through her belongings to check her ID), without ensuring she got home safely. This traumatized child was left at a bus stop after being assaulted by two police officers… and people continue to tell us that Black Lives Matter is not needed in Canada.
We need to disabuse ourselves of the notion that Canada is a multicultural haven of peace and equality. It is not. We need to recognize how deeply embedded racism is within Canadian culture. “At least it’s not as bad as the US. At least it’s not as bad as Toronto,” people say. This is gaslighting. Any mistreatment of Black people by law enforcement is too much. In light of Jordan Edwards’ murder by Texas police this week, this is another painful reminder that Black people are targeted, criminalized, and oppressed by policing institutions across North America. We remain over-policed and under-protected. We will not stand silent; we demand accountability.
This is also not an isolated incident. Canada is an illegitimate state founded on white supremacy and the genocide of Indigenous peoples. Canada is actively continuing colonization. This shows up in how Black people and Indigenous people are surveilled, policed, and disproportionately incarcerated. Law enforcement is a necessary instrument of the prison-industrial complex that channels Black and Indigenous people into the prison system. The alarming rise in the percentage of incarcerated Black people and Indigenous people in Canada was the subject of a report in 2013. Howard Sapers, former federal Correctional Investigator for Canada, said the findings of the report reveal a “troubling pattern”.
“9.5% of federal inmates today are Black (an increase of 80% since 2003/04), yet Black Canadians account for less than 3% of the total Canadian population. Aboriginal people represent a staggering 23% of federal inmates yet comprise 4.3% of the total Canadian population. One-in-three women under federal sentence are Aboriginal. “These are disturbing trends that raise important questions about equality and our justice system in Canada,” added Sapers.” … A case study conducted by the Office in 2012-13 on the experiences of Black inmates under federal custody found that they are over-represented in maximum security and segregation, incur a disproportionate number of institutional charges, and are more likely to be involved in use of force incidents. –– “The Changing Face of Canada’s Prisons”, Office of the Correctional Investigator, 2013
This disturbing trend only continues when Black children are stereotyped, criminalized, assaulted and traumatized by Canadian law enforcement. This needs to stop. The two police officers should be investigated, charged, suspended without pay, and publicly named. The public has a right to know who these officers are. The investigation of police officers by other police officers is categorically biased and has proven inconsequential time and again.
We need meaningful pursuit of justice for this child and for everyone who experiences police violence. The parents have sought legal counsel and BLMV is in contact with the family. BLMV will be contacting the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) and the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC) about racial profiling, community consultation processes by municipal police/RCMP, and police accountability.