The video was posted late Sunday on the social media site TikTok by Andrew Younis, an Ottawa fitness trainer who received the video from a close friend. Younis said the video was captured recently by his friend – he’s Black – during what Younis called a “bullying” police visit to his home.
Ottawa criminal defence lawyer Michael Spratt said the video plainly shows Ottawa police officers using racist language. “They’re talking about the white race, white men being replaced, interracial relationships: This is pure racism and it’s the language of white nationalism,” he charged Wednesday.
Ewart Walters, a writer and a member of the advocacy group Black Agenda Noir, said the changing face of society is “causing some trouble to some white people.” “If it’s happening in society, it’s going to be happening in the police force,” he said.
Walters said the video underlines the need for the police service to redouble its efforts to hire more people of colour, particularly black people, to change its culture. “It cannot happen by gradualism,” he argued. “You have to do something dramatic to make that happen. We’ve been talking about it, but not doing nearly enough to get it done.”
According to 2016 data, visible minorities comprised 15 per cent of the city’s uniformed police service while making up more than 26 per cent of Ottawa’s overall population.
Former police services board member Carl Nicholson, the Jamaican-born excecutive director of the Catholic Immigration Centre, said he was not scandalized by the video. “I don’t make anything big of it,” he said Wednesday. “I think lots of people are having those kinds of conversations.”
Nicholson said he thought the officers’ conversation reflected a clumsy attempt to grapple with the demographic changes around them. “I didn’t find it offensive,” he said, noting that no one in the video advocated violent or offensive action.
Ottawa police did not respond to a request for comment on the video Wednesday.
The video is the latest incident to raise troubling questions about systemic racism inside the service.
Earlier this year, an Ottawa police officer, Const. James Ramsay, pleaded guilty to discreditable conduct for creating an earlier verison of a meme that was denounced by Chief Peter Sloly as disgusting and overtly racist. The meme featured 11 current and former officers, most of them racialized, with the caption, “Ottawa Police Service, we’re always hiring…anyone.”
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