The Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC) is requesting a meeting with Police Chief Jon Bergen and Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne over a video showing the arrest of an Indigenous man in Prince Albert.
In the video a man, originally pinned to a police car, is thrown to the ground, face-first, by an arresting officer as onlookers call for the officer to stop.
“We are deeply disturbed by the use of force used by the officer in the video,” said PAGC Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte.
“It is hard to see our Indigenous people treated aggressively like this, and I have serious questions about what happened and why it happened this way.”
Hardlotte said the PAGC has been making progress in building trust and relationships with the police service and is concerned that incidents like the one in the video “pose a serious setback in our collective efforts to create positive change.”
Reached by phone, a police spokesperson said they will be meeting with the mayor and the PAGC Tuesday afternoon.
They said police were aware of the video and have seen it.
The takedown technique shown in the video is something officers are trained on, they said. The discussion Tuesday will centre around the appropriateness of using that technique in that situation.
In a press release, the police said officers responded to the call Friday evening outside of a local business for a report of a man attempting to fight multiple people in the area just before 8 p.m.
“The Prince Albert Police Service is transparent and accountable to the public and welcome the opportunity for further discussion about police response,” they said in the written statement.
The video recording, which lasts a minute and a half, shows an arrest of two men who appear to be Indigenous near Gas Plus on 32 Street West. The video was posted to the Facebook page Rez R Us on Friday.
It begins with an officer pushing a man up against the back of a police cruiser and attempting to arrest him. A second man approaches him, and the officer gestures off-screen to have the second man arrested.
“Grab him,” he says.
A second officer appears, and the camera pans over to show him kneeling while being placed in handcuffs.
As the second officer leads the man away, the first officer can be seen throwing the man who was pushed up against the police car to the ground, his hands still tucked behind his back, he slams his chest, and possibly chin, against the ground. A black object is seen rolling towards the curb.
People from near the camera are heard shouting “don’t do that” and a man is heard moaning.
“This is a beautiful country,” a man can be heard shouting from the direction of the phone filming the incident. “Don’t do that. We’ve had enough of it.”
The second officer runs over to assist the first.
More shouting can be heard, including one yelling that something or someone is “special.”
The officer looks up, and shouts back “Yeah, so why is he fighting me.”
The officers get the man on his feet, and they have a short conversation.
So far, the video has over 7,000 views and has been shared 77 times.
The PAGC said in a press release that this incident adds to concerns raised by the city’s new back alley bylaw that officers would be allowed to use greater force, especially when confronting an individual at night in a place deemed out of bounds.
The bylaw, passed Monday, imposes a curfew between midnight and 6 a.m. on all back alleys. Supporters say the bylaw will cut down on crime, while opponents have argued it will lead to increased racial profiling, unfairly targeting the city’s Indigenous population. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association also said the bylaw is a step towards the criminalization of poverty and allows police to engage in “intrusive questioning of anyone deemed ‘suspicious.’”
In their press release, the PAGC said officers already have the authority under the Criminal Code to investigate suspicious activities when they receive complaints and that the bylaw would only lead to more problematic issues of discrimination and racial profiling into the future.