Canadian police denounce US officers' violent, deadly arrest of a Black man

Jan 29 2023, 7:45 pm

Editor’s note: This story contains descriptions of violence that may be disturbing to some readers.

Canadian police departments are condemning Memphis Police officers’ violent actions where they held a Black motorist down and beat him for three minutes. Twenty-nine year old Tyre Nichols died three days later. 

A day after the officers were charged with murder in Nichols’ death, Memphis authorities released video footage of the incident. 

In the video, the five officers, who are Black, are seen chasing Nichols, pinning him down, pepper spraying him, punching him, kicking him and striking him with a baton.  

As he laid on the ground, Nichols pleaded officers to go home and yelled for his mom. 

The FedEx worker was initially pulled over for a traffic stop. 

Since footage of the January 7 encounter was released, police departments across Canada have offered condolences to Nichols’ loved ones and condemned the officers’ actions. 

In a statement from Vancouver Police, Police Chief Adam Palmer said, “the murder of this young man at the hands of five Memphis police officers is felt everywhere, including here in our city.”


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A post shared by Vancouver PD (@vancouverpd)

“During the days to follow, North America and the policing community will watch closely as the City of Memphis tries to understand what took place and brings those responsible to justice. I stand with police and community leaders everywhere to condemn this murder, and I support the swift and decisive actions of the Memphis Police in firing and criminally charging the men involved,” the statement continued. 

Toronto Police Cheif Myron Demkiw admitted the Memphis officers’ actions will have “long-standing impacts on our

communities,” and Black communities will be disproportionately affected.

Edmonton Police Service said Nichols’ death “reflects a life ended too soon and too violently at the hands of five now former police officers. This is a tragedy.”

“There is no avoiding that the five officers, now charged with second-degree murder and other charges, were on duty when they committed this act. But the actions we have heard described and which we will see on video do not reflect police work in any form,” EPS added. 

“An event like this will affect us all. We know it will be felt by our officers and all EPS employees, as well as by the communities we support, work with and live in. We must process it together.”

Several other departments and chiefs across the country shared similar statements; however, many have been met with their own criticism. 

Under the VPD Instagram post, social media users called on the department to take action and examine its unit in how it responds to mental health calls and its treatment of Indigenous folks.   

“Your message is as empty as your ethics,” one person wrote. 

“Start by addressing your own workforce and how they actually conduct themselves,” another comment reads. 

Under Demkiw’s tweet, many others reshared several claims made against members of the Toronto Police in their treatment of Black and Indigenous communities. 

Another Twitter user commented on the Edmonton Police Service tweet to say, “I hope you understand why trust in policing is decreasing and fear is increasing. I know this is an American incident, but it can most certainly happen elsewhere, including Canada.”

In its statement, the VPD said it is committed to listening and working with communities impacted by the senseless actions that led to Nichols’ death. 

EDS admitted it is aware this tragedy gives people the opportunity to reflect on this incident. 

“In doing so, we must hold space for community and the Black community in particular,” EDS added. “We know that the trust of our community is something we earn every single day and we remain steadfast in our commitment to doing this work with compassion, integrity and honour.”

Nikitha MartinsNikitha Martins

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