Pleasant Police Response to Protests Raises Questions Amongst Canadians
Police in Ottawa are poised for a crackdown on the protests which have immobilized Canada’s capital, however after three weeks of scant enforcement, photos of cops fraternizing with protesters have some Canadians questioning the light remedy of the demonstrations.
Particularly, many individuals on social media are contrasting the police conduct on the trucker protests with the shows of power seen at different latest demonstrations, significantly by Indigenous individuals.
A video on social media, filmed by a protester from the passenger aspect of a car on Feb. 12, confirmed an Ontario Provincial Police officer telling a person and lady via an open window that he supported their trigger. The provincial police power has launched an inside conduct investigation into the officer, a spokesman confirmed to The Instances.
On the border blockade in Coutts, Alberta, the place police seized a cache of weapons and made 13 arrests on Monday, a video circulated on-line exhibiting Royal Canadian Mounted Cops hugging and shaking palms with protesters as they dispersed.
“That was astonishing to me. I can’t consider an equal scenario the place the police would have been as supportive of the protesters, significantly within the context,” mentioned Lesley Wooden, an affiliate professor at York College, in Toronto, who research social actions in policing.
Whereas she mentioned that the newest pandemic protests weren’t equal in composition and techniques to Indigenous land protection or Black Lives Matter protests, variations in race, political orientation and belief in legislation enforcement might have an effect on how the police understand a crowd.
Teams like racial or ethnic minorities which have historic causes to mistrust the police usually tend to be seen by officers as uncooperative or threatening, and are more likely to be met with a militarized, aggressive response, Professor Wooden mentioned. Teams, like the present protesters, that embrace massive numbers of former cops and army service members usually tend to obtain pleasant remedy.
Many Canadians have contrasted the remedy of the demonstrations to the heavy-handed response final 12 months to protests to protect old growth forests in and round Fairy Creek on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Royal Canadian Mounted Cops have been filmed tearing off protesters’ Covid masks earlier than dousing them with pepper spray.
The variations are actual, however the Canadian police have usually been gradual to escalate in response to civil disobedience by any group, mentioned Howard Ramos, a political sociologist on the College of Western Ontario.
The protests at Fairy Creek, for instance, lasted a couple of 12 months earlier than police ratcheted up enforcement. And he famous that after the Moist’suwet’en First Nation blocked pipeline workers from entering disputed land, the police didn’t mobilize to make arrests for nearly two years after acquiring an injunction, according to the R.C.M.P.
“However on the similar time, there are clear cases the place the extent of sympathy that’s being proven to among the protesters has been uncharacteristic, to say the least,” Professor Ramos mentioned.
Neil Boyd, a criminology professor at Simon Fraser College in British Columbia, cautioned towards viewing Canadian police as a monolith, however mentioned among the police habits on the protests sends a destructive message to the general public.
“This might not be an revolt,” he mentioned, “however it’s actually an assault on the rule of legislation and an assault on democratic custom.”
Ian Austen in Ottawa contributed reporting.