DESPITE THE blowing snow and harsh wind, about 25 hardy residents came out to march for the International Day Against Police Brutality today, walking from the Terrace RCMP detachment to the courthouse to hear several speakers.
Carrying placards and yelling, “What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now,” the marchers heard many vehicle horns blowing in support as they headed down Lakelse Ave. just after noon today.
Outside the courthouse, Heather Prisk-Wright told the marchers that the most vulnerable people are at risk of police brutality and most happen to be first nations.
The government uses taxpayers’ money to pay for its citizens being abused, raped and other things and protecting the officers who do these things should stop, she said.
Despite asking Skeena-Bulkley Valley NDP MP Nathan Cullen and Skeena NDP MLA Robin Austin to come to the march to support it, neither did, she said.
BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) executive director Josh Paterson said when the BCCLA hears stories about police brutality, it takes those stories seriously.
“We have a crisis of police accountability,” he said, referring to the findings of the BCCLA workshop on small town policing from 2011, in which Terrace had a higher number of complaints of police issues than the other 13 communities the BCCLA went to.
He noted that some steps in the right direction have been taken with the independent investigations office set up to investigate allegations of police brutality; however, it needs to expand its mandate.
Union of BC Indian Chiefs grand chief Stewart Phillip said the deaths of people in police custody has gone on far too long.
Officers need to be held accountable and that will only happen if the public breaks its silence and speaks out in public like the march today, he said, adding it was an honour to be asked to take part and to march with everyone.