A shocking video has emerged online, shedding light on institutional racism prevalent in Canada. In the video, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers are seen assaulting Allan Adam, the chief of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation.
The confrontation that took place at Fort McMurray, Alberta, on March 10 has brought the spotlight on police brutality against minorities in Canada, especially at a time when anti-racism protests are raging in several countries. Commenting on the video, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday that he has "serious questions" after watching the video and called for a transparent investigation.
On March 10, an RCMP officer approached Adam and his wife over an expired license plate. This is when Adam and the officer got involved in a heated argument, with Adam telling the officer that he was tired of being harassed by the RCMP. The officer then tried to arrest his wife and twisted her arms behind her back, until she cried out in pain.
This is when Adam got out of his car, told the officer to leave his wife alone. Another officer came running at him at full speed, shoved him to the ground and punched him repeatedly. The whole incident was recorded on the dashcam on the RCMP vehicle parked behind Adam's car.
Before the public released the footage, the local RCMP division called the officer's action "reasonable", BBC reported. Although initially the RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki asserted that she was unsure whether systemic racism is a problem in the police force, she released a statement on Friday stating that systemic racism is part of every institution, including the RCMP and that the indigenous people have not always been treated fairly.
Canadian P.M. Justin Trudeau Reacts
On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the arrest video of Allen Adam "shocking" and called for the independent investigation to be transparent. He further said that it wasn't a lone incident. "Far too many black Canadians and Indigenous people" feel unsafe around the police, he said.
Last week, he marched alongside the Black Lives Matter protesters in Ottawa and took a knee as a sign of solidarity. At the same time, he is drawing flak over old pictures of him in a blackface.
According to a Department of Justice report, although the indigenous people make just 5 percent of the Canadian population, they form about a third of the prison population. As per the Globe and Mail report published last November, indigenous people account for a third of custodial deaths in Canada.