Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde wants to see immediate action over racist comments posted on Facebook by an RCMP officer.
“There is no room for this kind of intolerance in Canada, especially among those who have chosen to serve the public in law enforcement,” said Bellegarde, in a statement emailed to APTN.
In a private Facebook group, an RCMP member commented on a story shared about the acquittal of Gerald Stanley, writing that Colten Boushie “got what he deserved.”
The 22-year old Cree man from the Red Pheasant First Nation in Saskatchewan was shot and killed when he and four others drove onto Stanley’s farm in August of 2016.
Stanley was charged with second-degree murder, but argued the shooting was an accident. He was acquitted last Friday.
“The recent verdict in the shooting death of Colten Boushie has laid bare the issue of racial discrimination in Canada’s justice system,” said Bellegarde.
“It’s evident in the over-representation of First Nations people in the criminal justice system, in the way First Nations people do not feel protected when First Nations people are victims of violence, and it is shockingly evident in online comments like this one.”
Federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said he has talked to the RCMP about what he calls an “absolutely appalling” remark.
“The facts are being determined and examined,” Goodale said. “If they turn out to be what they appear to be, this is unacceptable and there will be consequences.”
APTN has confirmed the person who posted the comment is an RCMP officer in Alberta, but is not releasing her name at this time.
RCMP Headquarters says it has now launched an investigation into the social media posts. Under the Privacy Act, it can’t share personal information.
In an emailed response to APTN, an RCMP spokesperson said, “As a result, we cannot confirm or discuss whether Code of Conduct investigations are underway in relation to any individual.”
The comments were made in a private Facebook group called “News stories that Matter to or May Impact RCMP.” The group has 1,200 members.
After a tip from a source that some of posts were “shocking,” an APTN reporter asked to join the group and was added as a member.
Some of the comments on posts about Stanley’s not-guilty verdict in Boushie’s murder, were alarming and racist. Ranging from, “one less thug is no loss,” to how it was “sad that Boushie died, but he made his fate.”
Not every inflammatory comment is by a police officer, though some are clearly articulating that is their line of work.
The group consists of current and former RCMP members, public servants, politicians, and now media.
The RCMP officer at the centre of investigation now, deleted her comments shortly after APTN was granted access to the group. And has since deleted her personal Facebook page. But not before changing the cover photo with a picture of a gun and the text ‘This home protected by the good lord and a gun. If you came here to steal or do harm you might meet them both.’
APTN did reach out to the officer, but so far no response.
-with files from The Canadian Press.