We tolerate our own racism too easily

The homicide of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has precipitated the greatest American unrest in decades, probably because this is merely one more on a long list of killings of black citizens who posed no physical threat to anyone.

Evidence mounts that law enforcement gangs are riddled with racists.

There is confirmation of unconstitutional interference with news reporting by police. Nieman Lab at Harvard University reports that U.S. police have attacked journalists more than 100 times in the past four days.

While policing is largely governed by local authorities, the U.S. President is more interested in oppression than in moving toward a more just society.

Donald Trump’s horrid response to expressions of sympathy for crimes suffered by persons of colour was described by television commentator Stephen Colbert:

At times like these, we need empathetic and moral leadership. Unfortunately, we have Donald Trump.

…People are upset about systemic racism and a society that over-polices and imprisons black people and Trump’s solution is to do more of that?

The murder of George Floyd outraged people outside the USA to a surprising extent.

Vancouver witnessed a large but peaceful protest against the Floyd killing.

It is easier though to be critical of racist behaviour elsewhere than in our homeland.

A week ago, BC Supreme Court Justice B.J. Brown delivered reasons for judgement in a lawsuit that followed the 2014 unlawful arrest and assault of Irene Joseph by RCMP Constable Darrin Meier.

Not a homicide, but this was a violent crime by a policeman against a physically handicapped indigenous elder.

Young first nations people are in danger as well.

After Jamie Haller said she was assaulted by a police officer, current Attorney General David Eby—then Executive Director of BC Civil Liberties—said:

We keep getting called about the Williams Lake RCMP. I don’t know what’s going on there but, I do know that there’s a long history of conflict between Aboriginal communities there and the RCMP.

Irene Joseph was not only physically abused by the Smithers police officer but she was further victimized by the RCMP and the Attorney General of Canada.

Instead of reviewing the circumstances and apologizing to Ms. Joseph and making suitable payment for her injuries, Canada and its national police force dragged this out for more than five years, offering a defence that was almost entirely rejected by Justice Brown.

Using subtle language that is common in such cases, the judge found Cst. Meier’s evidence was unreliable. She stated there were no reasonable grounds to arrest Ms. Joseph and faulted the officer for his behaviour:

[34] Ms. Joseph was 61 years old at the time of the incident. She walked with a walker. …it would have been obvious to all that she had limited mobility and hence used a walker. Things rapidly escalated when Cst. Meier decided to handcuff her. It is at that point that he decided to take Ms. Joseph to the ground, resulting in her injuries.

[35] There were other options available to Cst. Meier. He did not need to attempt to handcuff her. He did not need to struggle with her. He did not need to take her to the ground and continue to wrestle with her.

Sometimes official actions rooted in racism result in fatalities; sometimes the victims are injured physically. Other times, harm is less obvious, but with consequences that shape lives.

New York Times podcast The Daily provided an example in final moments of its June 1 episode. Correspondent John Eligon asked Minneapolis protester Maya Haynes why it was important to be on the street risking arrest. She answered:

My younger brothers. They’ve been profiled since they were eight years old. A white woman got her bike stolen, and they took my brothers while they were riding their bikes on the way to get a haircut and put them in the back of a police car. And taunted my baby brothers, asking — and pulled this white woman up to let her be the judge if they were guilty or not. That’s why I’m out here.

We’ve seen numerous examples of racist and antisemitic behaviour in and around Vancouver. If these dreadful acts are to be eliminated, all of us must oppose them vigorously.

When racism is apparent in the way public servants perform duties, the consequences, including prosecution of those individuals, should be harsh and justice quick. Governments should not hide behind legalisms and use delaying tactics that signal official tolerance of wrongful acts.

An old legal maxim should be observed:

Justice delayed is justice denied.

Never should it have taken five years to settle the complaint of a senior who had done no wrong. The assault of Ms. Joseph was obviously not as serious as the suffocation of George Floyd but the similarity between the two incidents is excessive use of force.

One solution has been offered.

If You Want Less Police Violence, Hire More Female Cops:

…female officers interviewed believed they were more communicative, more skillful at de-escalating potentially violent situations and less confrontational…

These photos show opposite extremes:

Maslow’s hammer applies:

If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Use of Force Project


These policies often fail to include common-sense limits on police use of force, including: 

  1. Failing to require officers to de-escalate situations, where possible, by communicating with subjects, maintaining distance, and otherwise eliminating the need to use force
  2. Allowing officers to choke or strangle civilians, in many cases where less lethal force could be used instead, resulting in the unnecessary death or serious injury of civilians
  3. Failing to require officers to intervene and stop excessive force used by other officers and report these incidents immediately to a supervisor
  4. Failing to restrict officers from shooting at moving vehicles, which is regarded as a particularly dangerous and ineffective tactic
  5. Failing to develop a Force Continuum that limits the types of force and/or weapons that can be used to respond to specific types of resistance
  6. Failing to require officers to exhaust all other reasonable means before resorting to deadly force
  7. Failing to require officers to give a verbal warning, when possible, before shooting at a civilian
  8. Failing to require officers to report each time they use force or threaten to use force against civilians

It may be comforting to deny that racism is real, here or throughout the nation to the south. Humans have an ability to analyze complex information but they also have the capacity to ignore facts directly before them.

The New York Times headlined an AP article, titled ‘Death By Racism’: Part of America’s DNA From the Start?.

Imagine, for a moment, that you are a black man or woman living in America in 2020. How could you not believe that racism kills?

If you are black, you need not imagine anything. You know it very well.

You don’t need to see the video of George Floyd, a police officer’s knee on his neck as he struggled for his dying breaths, to know that black people are three times more likely to be killed by police than are white people.

You don’t need to hear the racial statistics on COVID-19 to know that black people have been affected disproportionately — the same is true of eight of the 10 leading causes of death in the United States. Even before the pandemic, black life expectancy was 3½ years shorter than white…

“It’s not just how could you not believe that racism is killing you if you are black,” said Brittany Packnett Cunningham, founder of Campaign Zero, which fights police brutality. “How could ANYBODY not realize the lethal nature of racism?”

…If whites are surprised, Cunningham said, it is only because they view the world through rose-colored, Caucasian glasses.

Indigenous people in Canada suffer similarly, with life expectancy 15 years shorter than other Canadians and the incidence of disease and infant mortality far higher.

More than 30% of inmates in Canadian prisons are Indigenous – even though aboriginal people make up just 5% of the country’s population.

An article by Natasha Simpson at The Tyee provides from conclusive statistics:

…The CBC set out to compile a database of every person who died or was killed during a police intervention from 2000 to the end of 2017. Researchers gathered information on race and ethnicity from a variety of sources and found Black and Indigenous people were severely overrepresented.

In Winnipeg, for example, Indigenous people made up about 10.6 per cent of the city’s population in that period. But more than 60 per cent of the people who died in police encounters were Indigenous. (In April, Winnipeg police officers shot and killed three Indigenous people in10 days.)

In Toronto, Black people accounted for 37 per cent of victims. They make up slightly more than eight per cent of the population.

Other reports have shown similar patterns. In November 2019, the Globe and Mail reported that between 2007 and 2017 more than one-third of people shot to death by the RCMP were Indigenous. Indigenous people make up less than five per cent of the population…

Categories: Indigenous, Justice, RCMP

14 replies »

  1. When I was young ( early 50’s ), we had a number of various ethnic neighbours. Italian, polish, Irish, African Americans etc. Looking back, we never identified these individuals by their ethnicity, they were just our neighbours, friends or team mates.
    Then came ” advocates ” with a mandate to fight for respective identities. Advocates started identifying these individuals and mixing in a history of abuse in their former homeland and telling us it should not happen here. These same advocates needed to prove their existence and need for funding by identifying any minor so-called act of racism into a media frenzy and call for politicians to put an end to it. As I grew up with various ethnic friends, it was never an issue. Hell even our Polish friends reacted with a grain of salt at a ” polock ” joke. It wasn’t a big deal.
    Why has all that changed ?
    In my opinion, 2 diseases are to blame. First, politics and secondly social media. Politicians love the media attention that makes them appear to want an end to racism. While social media fuels the fire. Where were all these protesters when similar incidents occured in their own back yard as you have identified in this article ?
    Where are the media stories that show the number of blacks killing each other weekly in the USA.
    The other day, I tried posting a comment on the CBC that quoted statistics directly from the USA government showing the number of white people outnumbering black people killed by police in the USA.
    My comment was deleted by CBC adjuticators. They would NOT post my comment after 3 attempts. Why won’t the media publish those stories ? Every time the Canadian media makes a big deal about a young black individual being shot in Toronto, it’s always about the killing of a great young individual complete with family & friends in tears telling the media how great the individual was. No mention of someone carrying a gun or in a gang. It’s a lot easier for the media to make it look like it’s our fault. We will never know for sure. I’m not here to support police actions because I do believe we will never know the whole truth from some of these fatal actions.
    For the most part, I do believe that Canadians are not racist. Yes you will always some idiots and that happens everywhere. At the same time, you will always have some immigrants who believe Canada owes them and anyone who doesn’t believe that or looks at them differently is in their mind……… racist. And then it’s time to mobilize the ” advocate”

    Guy in Vic


  2. I recently connected via Facebook (yeah, I know!) with a friend from junior high days (c.1965) while the two of us attended a school that was majority Chinese-Americans. As a caucasian, I was in a minority (as opposed to the halcyon days of Marin schools where the assemblies were a sea of white faces, but for Melody Kan, Korean, and Zubeida Khadri, Indian.

    André, the friend in question, was Black and Japanese, rather like the other half of Tiger Woods. We had ample opportunity to observe some rather raw racism while walking the streets, and he had invoked that memory in an exchange of FB messages, I spoke with him over the phone for the first time in half a century on Sunday, the occasion for much hand-wringing and mutual head-shaking over all the wasted time and efforts, all the backsliding of the last decades.

    It was somewhat comforting to know that two old guys could still share that perception that race didn’t count for squat among friends, and that we could sincerely agree that this would be a better outlook for broader society than where we are now.


  3. RossK posted a video and some informative links over at his fine blog the other day on this critical topic. Jason Isbell tries to push some buttons from his perspective of a privileged southern white male.

    “I’m a white man living on a white man’s street
    I’ve got the bones of the red man under my feet
    The highway runs through their burial grounds
    Past the oceans of cotton

    I’m a white man looking in a black man’s eyes
    Wishing I’d never been one of the guys
    Who pretended not to hear another white man’s joke
    Oh, the times ain’t forgotten

    There’s no such thing as someone else’s war
    Your creature comforts aren’t the only things worth fighting for
    You’re still breathing, it’s not too late
    We’re all carrying one big burden, sharing one fate

    I’m a white man living in a white man’s nation
    I think the man upstairs must’a took a vacation
    I still have faith, but I don’t know why
    Maybe it’s the fire in my little girl’s eyes
    Maybe it’s the fire in my little girl’s eyes”


  4. From that NYT quote: “black people are three times more likely to be killed by police than are white people.”

    Why are police killing anybody in a one-sided manner in the first place? We seem to accept that it’s happening and somehow valid, while I cannot see why it should be.

    It’s my opinion, completely unsubstantiated of course, that a certain kind of person wants to be a policeman these days, and the ability to bully others for the sheer “feel” of it is an important draw. Community service sure isn’t. Tasing people to watch them scream and twitch when it’s completely unnecessary seems a popular sport. “he was coming at me, your Honour and I felt physically threatened.” What, they don’t teach methods of physical restraint these days?” The case of the 61 year-old lady with a walker in Smithers illustrates my feelings perfectly. What in hell was going through that man’s mind? Or how about that Polish visitor at Vancouver Airport that four Mounties managed to essentially off? “Are you questioning my authority?” is the attitude I feel exists. And maybe scream it louder if there’s no “appropriate” response. You’re working at an international airport and the thought there might be non-English speakers around hasn’t crossed your mind? Apparently not.

    We need a much different mindset in the police services than we have these days, in my opinion. The constant refrain by police to members of the general public is to disparagingly call them “civilians”. So far as I’m aware, police themselves are civilians, because they sure aren’t military. But they seem to have to feel special so stongly they came up with a term to separate “us” from “them”. Time for big change.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Will somebody explain to me the symbolism shown in the picture of the hands that are circled in red. I can see the thumb and finger making a circle. Is it some sort of Masonic handshake?


  6. Less than a day after my post above, some shaven-headed RCMP thug in Kelowna took to “rescuing” his two comrades restraining a possible revolutionary citizen by running over and giving the victim some well-placed punches to the face in a highly aggressive manner. There, that’ll teach the scuzzball! How dare a citizen protest being handled by the supreme defenders of civility, our well-loved police? It was out-and-out assault for all to see.
    Predictably, some superannuated RCMP desk-jockey Superintendent appeared on TV to state, well sure, the video is pretty damning on the face of it, but what about the before and after of the incident? Dear defender of the RCMP faith — no doubt the man’s squawkings were so ultimately amazing, they could have toppled governments worldwide! So the thug response was justified to save his comrades from mortal danger. Kind of like Monty Python’s skit where the ultimate joke was so funny that German soldiers died of laughing when Brits broadcast it in German on the battlefield.
    In other words, Mr RCMP Superintendent, your response was LUDICROUS. And, as it happens, of course, officially the injuries were too light for the BC police watchdog to investigate further. Even more ludicrous. The intent is what matters, the unconscionable officially-sanctioned behaviour, but that’s lost on those appointed to rule over we serfs. The message is to keep your heads down or else people with anti-social attitudes masquerading as police will beat your brains out with impunity.


  7. It’s quite astonishing how many leadership personalities are messing up and taking away from the good purposeful side of the protests against rascism, police stupidity brutality and murder of Mr. Floyd and the movement against rascism and too much police brutality in general.
    Examples of some idiot leadership personalities from the School of Morons Extrodanaire. Stockwell In Denial Day. Interim Federal Green Party Leader Jo Ann Incite more Violence Rioting and Looting and it’s all Valid and Okay Roberts, and worst of all the biggest moron of all. Donald Piece of Shit the Constitution Means F..k All To Me Dictator Trump. The list could go on but this is more than enough.


  8. My heart goes out to Indigenous victim of police shooting Chantel Moore of Edmundston NB and her family. What the hell is going on these days.


  9. I see the worry about the pandemic priority and being responsible and concerned for the life and safety for loved ones, their families other peoples seniors and families and fellow citizens is over, now that the big protest rallies have signaled that. All gains and health policies are now basically bullshit.

    As much as I am totally for the change against racism and against this disgraceful police brutality and over reach. In my opinion I believe this is crazy right now, when we are being asked to do our part for months now and continue. There’s no possibility for proper physical distancing, many without masks, and hearing an organizer state that, This is worth the risk is just beyond irresponsible. I say, Thanks for the lack of concern for my safety, my families and the frontline workers safety and taking part in possibly bring about a second wave and burdening our frontine workers with more, and causing more misery and death.

    Worst of all our disgusting Hypocrites in media, radio broadcasting, press gallery, don’t even make any real opining on this. The cowardly scum were all on the pandemic health protocols and part of the optics of doing our part and were all in this together and let’s get through this and now these media lowlife hypocrites are too afraid to make an opinion on it.

    I listen to a few broadcasters and some are just the most pathetic turn tail cowards and hypocrites I’ve ever witnessed. They just go along with it all when things change like this. Then a small contributing business can’t even get a patio licence and businesses have to go through all the hoops for slow start up.

    I at least can say even though Horgan and Bonnie Henry and the authorities could not do anything about this insanity, and i get that, and they did say to their credit, that they would rather see people protest from home and that they would rather the rallies didn’t take place like these. Good on Bonnie Henry for at least stating that the protesters should realize they could be taking the disease to their families and loved ones. I guess that didn’t matter to these people or the reckless uncaring organizers.

    At least the the protests were peaceful. But the virus doesn’t care about peaceful now does it.

    I see that it’s only a small minority that are not doing their part that the useless media and radio shithead broadcasters and some media cowards try to tell us. Pretty big minority though. All the fear and talk about a possible bad second wave, keeping the curve flattened and all that. Well I guess it’s safe to say. Bullshit. Well I will go back to listening too the likes of Yellow striped Global Media and some Radio hypocrite broadcaster goofs and the like Just for a laugh now.


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