Tag Archives: Police Violence

‘Intimidated no longer’: Families march in Saskatoon amid allegations of police violence

Sheila Tataquason said she didn’t resist the police dog that bit her in 2013, even after it latched onto her arm. (Guy Quenneville/CBC News)

Parents of 2 dead Indigenous men among those calling for end to police violence

The families of an Indigenous man who was shot at by police and another whose death is at the centre of a police inquest joined a Saskatoon march against police violence on Saturday.

Wearing a shirt that reads “#Justice4Austin,” Agatha Eaglechief joined the march of about a dozen people who played drums, sang songs and carried signs past a heavily trafficked 22nd Street West, as they travelled from Pleasant Hill Park to the police station.

Agatha’s son Austin Eaglechief died in summer 2017 following a police chase in which shots were fired by officers. She said she still does not know what led to shots being fired that day, despite having seen helicopter video footage.

“Everyday I wake up hoping I can get an answer,” Agatha said.

Agatha Eaglechief at a march against police violence, holding a photo of her deceased son Austin Eaglechief. (Guy Quenneville/CBC News)

While an autopsy clears gunshots as the cause of death, which included a high-speed crash with another vehicle, Agatha said in her view shots should have never been fired because her son had mental health and addiction issues.

‘I’m still fighting,’ says mother of Jordan Lafond

Among those speaking before the march began was Charmaine Dreaver, the mother of Jordan Lafond. Lafond died on in October 2016 after crashing into a fence during a police chase. His death is the subject of an upcoming June coroner’s inquest.

“I’m very upset about [how] the police act against so many people [that] have been hurt. It’s been very, very hard. I’m still fighting. I’ll never give up on the fight for Jordan,” Dreaver said to those who gathered.

“We need to be treated better and equally as humans.”

Charmaine Dreaver, left, with family members are still waiting for answers at an upcoming inquest into her son Jordan Lafond’s death. (Guy Quenneville/CBC News)

Police dog bite victim speaks

Sheila Tataquason was bitten by a police dog in 2013 and has been vocal about how it impacted her life.

The canine officer had been chasing an armed robbery suspect and latched onto Tataquason’s arm, although she was not involved, and has not received compensation from police despite facing nerve damage, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder since she was bit.

“I’m here to support all the people and not to be intimidated no longer by the Saskatoon city police,” she said.

Organizers say events like this, organized by the Saskatoon Coordinating Committee Against Police Violence, are a push toward greater transparency by police and also share information about citizens’ rights when it comes to police.

CBC News · Posted: Mar 31, 2018


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RCMP Statement on Human Rights Watch Report on Police Treatment of Indigenous Women in Saskatchewan

RCMP are investigating an assault on an 11-year old girl Wednesday night in St. Theresa Point. (CBC)

OTTAWA, June 19, 2017 /CNW/ – 

RCMP statement on Human Rights Watch report:

  • The RCMP has received the Human Rights Watch Report on Police Treatment of Indigenous Women in Saskatchewan and will take time to thoroughly review it. Several of the report’s recommendations to the RCMP have been addressed in response to other reports by, among others, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) and the Call to Action resulting from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
  • Last February, the CRCC released its report on Policing in Northern British Columbia, which contained 31 recommendations pertaining to the RCMP. These recommendations focused on five areas: personal searches, policing of public intoxication, use of force, domestic violence and missing persons. In response to the report, the RCMP has further implemented policy and/or procedural changes in each of these areas. The CRCC’s review did not find any systemic racism in Northern British Columbia, nor did they initiate any new investigations.
  • The RCMP is committed to participating fully in the implementation of the national reconciliation framework and supporting the Calls to Action resulting from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. For example, regarding Call to Action 41, the RCMP is providing its full cooperation and participation to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
  • Allegations of police misconduct are serious and demand a full investigation. If individuals are aware of specific allegations of police misconduct, the RCMP encourages them to bring them forward, either to the RCMP directly or to the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (https://www.crcc-ccetp.gc.ca/).

RCMP actions:

Expand Indigenous training for officers

  • The RCMP has integrated cultural awareness, human rights and gender diversity training into its Cadet Training Program. Also, the RCMP’s Aboriginal Perceptions Training Course provides members an understanding of Indigenous perceptions/attitudes towards the Canadian Justice System, the factors which have influenced perceptions, and how those factors can sometimes create tensions. The interactive training fosters a broader understanding of the contemporary and historical issues between Canada’s Indigenous peoples and the government.
  • Through Canada’s Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence, the Government of Canada has committed to cultural competency training for members that is division-specific. The training will recognize the unique and varied experiences of local and regional communities and focus on family violence and violence against Indigenous women and girls.

Training on de-escalation/use of force

  • The RCMP created a national crisis intervention and de-escalation course, which is mandatory for all members to complete by October 2017. Included in this course is a crisis intervention and de-escalation model. This model provides a foundation for police to approach a crisis in a manner that not only builds rapport but allows for a more thorough risk assessment of crisis situations and ultimately de-escalating crisis situations more effectively and safely.

Respectful police response for Indigenous victims of violence

  • The RCMP has developed a National Missing Persons Investigations course. This course is being released in English at the end of June 2017, and will be available in both official languages in September 2017. The course will be mandatory for all members who investigate missing persons complaints. Within the course, there is a module dedicated to Indigenous missing persons.

Female body searches

  • The RCMP’s Personal Search Policy was updated in August 2016 and states that strip searches must be authorized by a supervisor/delegate and be conducted by an officer of the same sex and in private, unless exigent circumstances require an immediate search for the preservation of evidence or to ensure the health and safety of members, the public, or detained persons.

Available female officers to conduct searches

  • The RCMP Personal Search Policy was enhanced to ensure that same sex searches are conducted, when possible. However, given operational requirements and the vast geographic area covered by the RCMP, it is not always possible to have a female member available to conduct a search. The policy permits strip searches by officers of the opposite sex in exigent circumstances.

Identification of dominant aggressor in intimate partner violence

  • The RCMP’s bias-free policing policy is clear: all persons are treated the same regardless of sexual orientation or gender. The RCMP’s Violence in Relationships policy demands a thorough investigation be completed to distinguish the primary aggressor.

Collection of race and gender data

  • As announced in the 2014 Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: A National Operational Overview, “Aboriginal identity” is now included on the Homicide Surveys used by all Canadian police forces, and remitted to Statistics Canada.
  • The RCMP is committed to a bias-free policing policy to ensure all people in Canada are treated fairly through transparent, independent and neutral investigations. Ethnicity is not a variable collected through most policing forms, unless there is a need to do so for the investigation, such as for missing persons.


Royal Canadian Mounted Police Media Relations and Issues Management

For further information: RCMP Media Relations, RCMP.HQMediaRelations-DGRelationsmedias.GRC@rcmp-grc.gc.ca, 613-843-5999


Human Rights Watch Wants Special Unit to Investigate Alleged Sask. Police Violence Against Indigenous Women

Farida Deif, Canada director at Human Rights Watch, speaks at a news conference Monday. (Trevor Bothorel/CBC)

Organization says it’s documented dozens of claims of police misconduct based on 64 interviews

By Jason Warick, CBC News Posted: Jun 19, 2017

Human Rights Watch is calling for the creation of a special investigative unit to look at allegations of violence by police in Saskatchewan.

During detailed interviews last year with 64 Saskatchewan Indigenous women, the New York-based organization says it uncovered dozens of cases of police misconduct, including overly intrusive strip searches, excessive use of force, racial profiling and sexual harassment.

“The crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada means that police services across the country should be acutely aware of and sensitive to the well-being, vulnerability, and needs of Indigenous women,” said Farida Deif, Canada director at Human Rights Watch.

“Instead, in some cases, it is the police themselves who are making Indigenous women feel unsafe.”

Human Rights Watch, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, the Elizabeth Fry Society and others held a news conference Monday to elaborate on the report.

At the conference, Deif said the group found evidence of a “deeply fractured” relationship between police and Indigenous communities.

‘Why is there still denial? You can’t deny that this is going on in our police system.’– Heath Bear, vice-chief

She said Indigenous women told them they wouldn’t call police to report crimes for fear of harassment and violence. She said one woman told them “we become as invisible as we possible can” in public places to avoid police attention. This breakdown of trust is particularly dangerous for victims of violence, she said, and could be life-threatening.

Sheila McLean, an Idle No More community organizer, said at the news conference the report “is not talking about a few bigots on our police force” but is example of systemic racism and the justice system’s role in perpetuating it.

All parties agreed action is needed, not more reports. Heather Bear, Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations vice-chief, asked how many reports have to be done before the problems are addressed.

‘Not invisible’

“Why is there still denial?” she said. “You can’t deny that this is going on in our police system.”

She said the country needs “strong laws that protect our women from our protectors.”

“We are not invisible,” she added.

The report calls for a new special investigative unit that should employ staff with expertise in responding to violence against women. The report also calls for the unit to have power “to require chiefs of police to comply with the recommendations.”

According to the report, many Indigenous women are afraid to report police misconduct. Many are even afraid of the repercussions of reporting police violence against other Indigenous women they’ve witnessed.

Police agree changes needed: report

The report says most police know major changes are necessary in some areas. For example, it states, Prince Albert police estimate they take into custody 3,000 people per year for public intoxication.

“Police themselves recognize the problem and acknowledge that more centres are required and more support needed for those suffering from alcohol dependency,” says the report.

Other recommendations include:

  • Ensure the commissioners of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women investigate police agencies.
  • Expand non-incarceration options for individuals arrested for being intoxicated in public, including short- and long-term detox facilities and alcohol management programs.
  • Expand training for police officers to ensure that police forces have knowledge about Indigenous history, the legacy of colonial abuses — including policing abuses — and human rights policing standards.
  • End body (“frisk”) searches of women and girls by male police officers in all but extraordinary circumstances.
  • Collect and make publicly available (as ethically appropriate) accurate and comprehensive race- and gender-disaggregated data that includes an ethnicity variable on violence against Indigenous women, as well as on use of force, police stops, and searches.


Native Americans Most Likely Victims Of Deadly Police Force

Lynn Eagle Feather, mother of police shooting victim Paul Castaway, is consoled by friends at rally in Denver, Co., July 12, 2015. (Courtesy/Steve Stalzle

Lynn Eagle Feather, mother of police shooting victim Paul Castaway, is consoled by friends at rally in Denver, Co., July 12, 2015. (Courtesy/Steve Stalzle

Cecily Hilleary / Voice of America

The high-profile shooting of an unarmed teen in Ferguson, Missouri last year focused international attention on police using deadly force against African Americans.

But another minority group in the U.S. — Native Americans — also claims they are frequently subjected to excessive force by police, and recent incidents and protests are drawing attention to their cause.

Three Native Americans are reported to have died during arrest or confinement last month.

One of them was Denver resident Paul Castaway, a 35-year-old Lakota Indian with a history of mental illness and alcohol abuse.

“He recently lost his job and he was devastated,” said his mother, Lynn Eagle Feather.  On July 12, he returned home from an outing in a state of high agitation and began waving a knife.

She had seen him upset before, but nothing like this day, she said.  Frightened, she fled her apartment, her two young grandchildren in tow, and called the police for help.

“I told them, ‘He’s schizophrenic, he’s very angry,’” she said in an interview with VOA.

Paul Castaway, Lakota Native victim of police shooting July 12, 2015. His mother said this photo was taken "in happier times." (Courtesy/Lynn Eagle Feather)

Paul Castaway, Lakota Native victim of police shooting July 12, 2015. His mother said this photo was taken “in happier times.” (Courtesy/Lynn Eagle Feather)

Police found Castaway, armed with the knife, in a nearby trailer park and gave chase.

“There were about 18 children playing in the parking lot and they were running alongside of my son as the police were chasing him,” his mother said.

She says after Castaway came to a dead end, he ran back into the open street and stopped along a wooden fence. That’s when one of the officers approached him, took aim and fired.

After he fell, Eagle Feather said the officers rolled him over and handcuffed him.

“And he looked at them and said, ‘What’s wrong with you guys?’ That’s the last words that came out of his mouth,” she said.

Denver police officials say Castaway had threatened the officers with his knife. But according to Eagle Feather and a local television report, surveillance footage showed that Castaway had been holding the knife to his own neck.

The Denver Police department did not respond to telephone and email requests from VOA for comment on the Castaway shooting.  The officer involved has been removed from active duty, pending an investigation.

Meanwhile, the department has recently completed a major reshuffling of police personnel, citing “complacency” throughout the ranks.

This comes as little consolation to Castaway’s mother, who is looking for answers.

“My son was only a threat to himself,” she said.

She also worries about neighborhood children who witnessed his shooting, including one boy who fainted on the scene.

“He has to go to counseling because he can’t get it out of his head,” Eagle Feather said. “And some of the children are saying that they see my son sometimes, early in the morning, standing there along the fence with his head down.”

Native Americans vulnerable

The United States is home to 565 officially-recognized Indian tribes and other indigenous communities. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, American natives make up less than one percent of the U.S. population.

But Native Americans are victims in nearly two percent of police killings — which makes them statistically more vulnerable to police violence than blacks, according to the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice.

Jonathan Blanks, a researcher at the Washington, DC-based CATO Institute, who edits policemisconduct.com, a website that tracks a wide variety of alleged police wrongdoing, says information can be difficult to access.

“The Federal government asks for data on the use of force by law enforcement, but local police agencies aren’t necessarily compliant,” Blank said.  “And in some cases, state laws actually prevent police departments from releasing information to the public.”

The FBI publishes data on law enforcement personnel who have been assaulted or killed in the line of duty, as well as cases of justifiable homicideby police.  The reports are based on data from 18,000 local and federal law enforcement agencies who voluntarily participate in the program.

But a 2014 Wall Street Journal study of data from more than 100 of America’s largest police agencies found that more than 550 cases of homicide by police between 2007 and 2012 were not included in the FBI data.

The lack of accurate statistics on police violence led D. Brian Burghart, a Reno, Nevada, journalist, to create fatalencounters.org, a site which charts arrest-related deaths every U.S. state.

“We track any manner of deaths — gunshot, Taser, vehicular accidents — anything outside of the jail,” Burghart said. “Unless incidents are reported in the media, chances are we don’t hear about them.  I’ve looked at some 8,000 incidents, and I believe that a lot of them, particularly the Native American deaths, don’t get tracked. It’s a giant black hole.  It’s almost lucky when it does hit the press.”

‘We never mattered’

Chase Iron Eyes, a Native American lawyer and rights activist with the Lakota People’s Law Project, based in Rapid City, South Dakota, has launched a Native Lives Matter campaign. It is patterned after the #BlackLivesMatter movement formed in the wake of race-related riots in Ferguson.

Chase Iron Eyes (Courtesy/Lakota Peoples Law Project)

Chase Iron Eyes (Courtesy/Lakota Peoples Law Project)

“It’s very unfortunate that black people are being victimized by police,” he said. “But native people are also being victimized by the very system that’s designed to — should be designed to — protect all Americans,” he said.

“We felt that our voice also needed to be heard and that we needed to deconstruct what we see as a European male-dominated patriarchy and a legal system that was designed to protect European males at the expense of everyone else,” he said.

The controversy is high his home state of South Dakota, where more Native Americans live below the poverty line than in any other U.S. state and where Native Americans are incarcerated at a higher rate than any other race.

While they make up only nine percent of the general population, they represent 29 percent of North Dakota’s prison population.

All this, says Iron Eyes, is part of a pattern of racial discrimination and violence against Indians that dates back generations.

He cites the case of Allen Locke, a native man shot and killed by police in December only a day after he attended a #NativeLivesMatter rally in Rapid City.  Police called it a case of “suicide by cop.”

Most recently, in early July, Sara Lee Circle Bear, 24, a Cheyenne River Lakota woman in for a bond violation, complained she was in pain, but was ignored by prison staff who accused her of “faking.”  They later found her unconscious in her cell.  They transferred her to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Autopsy results issued this week indicated she died from an overdose methamphetamines.

The South Dakota State’s Attorney General’s Office said it will continue its investigation “as to the source of the methamphetamine.”

“There probably will be no follow-up because native lives don’t really matter,” Iron Eyes said.

And they won’t matter, he said, unless stories like hers are brought into the national spotlight.

“Mainstream media that has world wide reach doesn’t usually get the stories that we have because of where we live,” Iron Eyes said.  “And if the local or regional media puts a blackout on something, or if the content is detrimental to the image or the reputation of elected officials, like in South Dakota, those kinds of stories don’t get published.”

But Iron Eyes concedes that much of the tension in South Dakota relates back to the August 2011 shooting of two Rapid City police officers by a young native man who had been stopped for a routine traffic violation.

‘No conspiracy’

Steve Allender, mayor and former police chief of Rapid City, acknowledged that there are challenges in providing law-enforcement services to Native American community members.

“Native Americans have been through a great deal of trauma over the past 500 years, largely at the hands of white-skinned settlers. A significant component of today’s problems are due in some part to our failure to transition from our roles of the past to roles of the present,” he told VOA.

Encounters with police officers, who are mostly white or non-native, can bring many of these frustrations to the surface, Allender said.

“There is no doubt Native Americans are overrepresented in our local judicial systems,” he said.  “Activists simply claim it’s racism, even genocide, but I disagree.”

There may be ignorance, he admitted, even insensitivity among some white officials.

“But there is no conspiracy to apply heavy-handed governance to one segment of the population.”


Native Lives Matter: Police Killing Native Americans At Astounding Rate


Image Credit: Student Put in Paddy Wagon, Light Brigading

By Ruth McCambridge

A recent report by the Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice reports that Native Americans are killed by police at a higher rate than any other ethnic group.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that Native Americans make up almost two percent of those killed by police though they are only 0.8 percent of the population. While police kill young black men more than any other group, they kill Native Americans at a higher rate.

As with African Americans, these killings are not isolated from the larger problem of police and societal violence, as this devastating article in Counterpunch discusses in the particular context of New Mexico, which in 2014 had the highest rate of police killing in the country. That article reports that “according to a 2003 study by the New Mexico Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Native people experience ‘acts of ethnic intimidation; threats of physical violence, assaults, and other potential hate crimes’ as part of everyday life in border towns like Gallup, Farmington and Albuquerque.”


Chase Iron Eyes is an attorney with the Lakota People’s Law Project in South Dakota, which published a report called “Native Lives Matter” early this year. He says that the DOJ needs to address police violence against Native Americans.

“You can tell they’re shooting out of fear,” he said. “If it’s not out of hate, for some reason they’re pulling the trigger before determining what the situation actually is. Something does need to happen. Somebody does need to take a look and we need help.”

By Ruth McCambridge in Nonprofit Quarterly, July 16, 2015