We are living in a time where people are asking serious questions about our police forces. The Black Lives Matter movement has shed an incredible light on the unjust treatment of visible minorities at the hands of those who are supposed to serve and protect. I am not a visible minority but I have been on both sides of the spectrum. I have experienced police brutality in my own home, and I have also been saved by police. I am critical of anyone in a position of power, but especially those that abuse that role. However, I have been unable to talk about the local or national state fully until I witnessed what I did today.
Very often, in Montreal, you will see Indigenous citizens living on the streets. This is a reality that we don’t talk about nearly enough. It is not enough to periodically throw a dollar or two into someones’s cup or hat that they have placed in front of them as a symbol that they need help.
Too often, in Montreal, I see Indigenous citizens being questioned by security or police and it breaks my heart every time. Except today, in light of the current environment we are in, I did something different, I recorded the interaction.
I was listening to music when the interaction in the video below took place, but I had noticed the two police cadets on my side of the tracks. A moment later, I looked up and noticed 5 men moving in unison right across from me, and that the female cadet had moved to the other side. Then I saw the woman in between them.
I recorded the video above out of a genuine concern for the woman’s safety, especially when I noted that she is Aboriginal. It was my concern for the potential of excessive force that made me pull out my camera. It was also the eerie nature of the unidentified 5 men working with the officers that made me start recording as well.
Martin Luther King famously said, “there comes a time when silence is betrayal.” I felt the need to share this video and this article because my loyalty is to the human race. I maintain the M.A. after my name because it stands for human rights, and if I didn’t say my piece on what I witnessed today, I wouldn’t feel right.
In my opinion, I did not see any excessive force on behalf of the officers. What I witnessed was not a case of violence but potential harassment based on discrimination. The fact is, I do not know why these officers and men were encroaching on this woman, all I know is she felt threatened. If you watched the video, I know as much as you do because the moment I noticed something happening I began to record. That being said, I have no idea what happened after.
Here is what I do know: I know that Aboriginal individuals are often targeted by Canadian police. I know that we still have not solved the mysteries around the missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. I know that the media does not give their issues the light of day. I know that we need to do better.
The Black Lives Matter movement has shined a light on police brutality worldwide. In Canada, we cannot ignore how the system treats Black citizens and we must also speak up for the Indigenous community as well. Recently a video surfaced of First Nations Chief Allan Adam being brutally tackled and punched by RCMP officers. I was worried that this would happen to the woman today.
What I saw was that it did not. But I also did not like what I saw, which is why I recorded the interaction in the first place.
I may not have all of the solutions, except to say that silence on the issue is definitely not one of them.