The RCMP calls racist comments by one of its members in a closed group on Facebook “antithetical to the standards of the RCMP,” but it’s not clear that the Mounties have begun an investigation into the officer behind the shocking posts.
The officer’s comments were focused on the death of Colten Boushie in 2016 and the recent acquittal of Gerald Stanley, posting, “Too bad the kid died but he got what he deserved.”
The comments were posted in a private Facebook group called “News Stories that Matter to or May Impact RCMP” which has 1200 members.
In an email response to APTN, an RCMP spokesperson wrote, “The Facebook group cited is not managed or administered by the RCMP. Regardless, when concerns about disrespectful content believed to be written by an RCMP employee are brought forward, they are and will be investigated and addressed.”
APTN asked for clarification on whether the officer in this instance is being investigated, but as of this publication, has not received a response.
APTN has also reached out to the RCMP constable now based in Alberta who made the comments, but received no word back.
The officer’s own post indicates that person does, or has in the past, worked closely with Indigenous communities: “How many of us work on or near reserves and getting fed up with the race card being used every time someone gets caught breaking the law?”
Another member of the Facebook group challenged the officer, writing “I seriously hope for my people that you are not working on a reserve with that mentality.”
The RCMP officer’s response; “it’s NOT ABOUT RACE!!! I don’t care if someone is green or has a tail, if you trespass with intent to harm, how can you expect bad things not to happen?”
But clearly, the rhetoric in the wake of Gerald Stanley’s acquittal has highlighted racial tensions in rural Saskatchewan. And though Stanley’s defence was premised on the argument that the shooting was an accident, much public sentiment has focused on his right to defend his property.
It’s a sentiment echoed by some police officers in this Facebook group.
Another member identifies himself as an officer working in a small “3 man post…policing rural BC.”
He writes: “I’m not sure we should lay all the blame at the feet of the guy defending his family and property…It’s still sad that Boushie died, but he made his fate.”
The RCMP wrote to APTN that members must follow the Code of Conduct both on- and off-duty.
“A member’s use of the Internet for social networking is also subject to these standards,” the email from RCMP continued. “When using social networking, RCMP members must avoid compromising the integrity of the RCMP or portraying themselves or the organization in a disgraceful or discreditable manner.”
RCMP Headquarters said it “has initiated Code of Conduct investigations in the past based on inappropriate comments in third-party applications or on social networking sites and we will continue to do so.”
But the RCMP gave no indication of how many complaints there have been or what the penalties are.
The police investigation into Boushie’s murder has been dogged by complaints of racism from the start.
Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde said the RCMP need to investigate the comments.
“The AFN has a protocol in place with the RCMP that includes working together to overcome racism on the force and we will be following up with them in this regard. We want this investigated and dealt with immediately,” said Bellegarde.
In the House of Commons yesterday, NDP MP Charlie Angus asked the Prime Minister for an independent investigation into the RCMP’s handling of the case in Saskatchewan.
“Mr. Speaker, the night that Colten Boushie was killed, the RCMP raided the home of his grieving mother and treated her as if she were an accomplice,” said Angus.
“They left his body lying in a field in the rain for two days. They handcuffed his friends and took them on a high-speed police chase. This is not how to treat victims of crime, so no one should say that race was not a huge part of this tragedy.”
Last November, the RCMP cleared itself of any wrongdoing in how it investigated the Boushie murder.
APTN has so far reported only a small amount of the material we received from the web site.
There is also backlash on the Facebook site about the recent government announcement to relocate the RCMP 9-1-1 Dispatch Centre to Millbrook, a First Nation in Nova Scotia.
The move, announced last month, is backed by Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott.
The new centre would replace the aging RCMP communications centre in Truro, but someone expresses fears for dispatchers who have to work among Indigenous people.
The source who provided the information to APTN explained that the racist tone of these comments convinced her they needed to be exposed.
“I challenged her,” the source told APTN News. “I said, ‘Have you ever been there? Do you know where Millbrook is? The comments were so ignorant.”
The source says the comments appeared to come from someone living in western Canada. Leading them to ask, “I really don’t know what the hell is going on out West. These are such ignorant attitudes.”
The second source says a poster, who described himself as a retired Mountie, complained about the residential school payments that provided financial compensation to former students.
“They bitch about the IAP (Independent Assessment Process) like it’s nothing,” the source said of the posts that were made before the Stanley verdict.
“There are different degrees of everything on there. But, for me, this would call into question their (case) files; their ability to investigate things in an unbiased fashion,” the second source said.
The irony of the RCMP cautioning member of the public to be careful what they say and do online in the wake of the verdict and this site is not lost on the sources.
“I wouldn’t want officers with that kind of disdain and bigotry policing near my home,” one said.
-with files from Kathleen Martens