Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called for an independent investigation after a “shocking” video showing the arrest of an Indigenous chief by federal police.
The video, filmed and released by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), shows an officer rushing at Chief Allan Adam on March 10 during an encounter over an expired licence plate.
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In the dashcam video, broadcast by several Canadian media outlets, Adam has a heated exchange with a police officer outside a casino in the province of Alberta.
The tense situation degenerates quickly when the officer tries to handcuff Adam’s wife, and a second officer is seen tackling Adam to the ground and punching him in the face.
BREAKING NEWS: Dash-cam footage obtained by CTV News shows Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam getting tackled by Wood Buffalo RCMP officers, then punched in the head and put in a choke-hold. #cdnpoli #RCMP pic.twitter.com/NKJeapPzDN
— Rosa Hwang (@journorosa) June 12, 2020
Last week, Adam circulated images of his bruised and battered face following the arrest.
He told media that “because we are a minority and nobody speaks up for us, every time our people do wrong and the RCMP go and make their call, they always seem to use excessive force.”
“That has to stop. Enough is enough,” he said.
The Canadian prime minister, on Friday, said: “I have serious questions about what happened.”
“The independent investigation must be transparent and be carried out so that we get answers. At the same time, though, we also know that this is not an isolated incident.”
“We know that this is not an isolated incident,” Trudeau said.
“Far too many Black Canadians and Indigenous people do not feel safe around police. It’s unacceptable. And as governments, we have to change that.” Thousands of Canadians have marched in solidarity with US protesters against racism and police brutality, following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, during an arrest by Minneapolis police.
Trudeau himself took a knee, a popular protest gesture, last Friday at a demonstration outside his office in Ottawa.
After a week of denying it, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki on Friday reversed her position and acknowledged in a statement that “systemic racism is part of every institution, the RCMP included”.
“I struggled with the definition of systemic racism while trying to highlight the great work done by the overwhelming majority of our employees,” she said.
“I did not say definitively that systemic racism exists in the RCMP. I should have.”