Monday, May 08, 2006


"The colonial world is a world cut in two. The dividing line, the frontiers are shown by barracks and police stations. In the colonies it is the policeman and the soldier who are the official, instituted go-betweens, the spokesmen of the settler and his rule of oppression." - Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

On January 31, 2005, Matthew Dumas, an 18-year-old Anishnabe, was pepper-sprayed, shot twice and killed by a Winnipeg Police officer supposedly looking for a robbery suspect. The cops say that Dumas was a suspect in a robbery and was holding a screwdriver.

The thing is there is nothing unusual about the police shooting of Dumas. Nothing at all.

The following comes from The Drum (Canada).

Students to probe abuse by cops
by Lyndenn Behm

Their name, AID Winnipeg, couldn't have been more blunt in summing up the group's concerns. AID stands for Another Indian Dead.

This summer Aboriginal self-government students from the University of Winnipeg will be assessing the extent of police brutality with the goal of getting rid of the current Law Enforcement Review Agency (LERA). They say the current process is virtually useless and should be replaced with something that would make police more easily held to account for acts of brutality.

More than 2,000 cases of improper police conduct have been brought to LERA since it was formed in the mid 1980s, but not a single one has resulted in punitive measures being taken against police, AID organizer Ryan Bruyere told a demonstration outside the Manitoba Legislature in March.

That rally, held on the International Day Against Police Brutality, marked the beginning of AID's campaign, which then went into recess until after spring exams. About six dozen people listened as AID organizers read off a list of people who had been killed through situations involving police.

"The reason we are here today is to make sure no more (victims) are on the list," Bruyere said.

Bruyere and other students at the Aboriginal self-governance program at the University of Winnipeg organized the demonstration and handed out pamphlets regarding the AID Winnipeg campaign.

The objectives of AID include:

A petition and letter-writing campaign directed at Manitoba justice Minister Gord McIntosh;
Community consultations with concerned groups;
Finding legal professional to assist with research and advocating;
Researching incidents and telling the stories of victims of police misconduct over the last 35 years in Winnipeg;
The establishment of a non-profit fund to provide monetary support for victims of police violence;
Pressing the police for transparency.
When addressing the crowd Bruyere repeated a statement from AID's pamphlet that police are a reflection of the community they serve, and the people AID represents are seen as part of the community. "I sense that we are not afraid of the police, but rather of the community."

Another representative of AID Winnipeg, Jake Wark, said the hundreds of complaints registered with LERA represent only a portion of the actual brutality, because many victims are "too bruised and too broken" to file a complaint.

Cyril Shorting, also with the U of W program, said the LERA process is imbalanced because the police are well funded while the victims are often poor. The process is long, stressful and hard on victims.

Dave Brophy, a non-Aboriginal person, spoke of how the small rally in support of the victims of police brutality was poorly attended compared to that last year for an upper middle-class teenager who was killed in weapons crossfire while walking on a sidewalk downtown.

One time more than 550 people including prominent politicians turned out and this lead to Operation Clean Sweep and the hiring of an additional 40 police officers, he said.

"I don't want to belittle anyone's suffering but it is unfortunate that (some) people came to the vigil with a heavy-handed message," he said, adding that the solution doesn't rest in hiring more police officers.

The AID representatives said innovative solutions, not more policing, are needed.

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