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PM demands answers after video shows violent arrest of First Nations leader

Last Updated Jun 12, 2020 at 9:59 am PDT

FILE - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responds to a question from the media during a new conference outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Monday June 8, 2020. Trudeau says he'll propose equipping police with body-worn cameras to the country's premiers this week, hoping for rapid movement. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Summary

Video of violent arrest of First Nations leader in Alberta has been released

Justin Trudeau said it's not an isolated incident and that systemic racism exists in Canada

PM has spoken with the RCMP commissioner about body cameras and reforms at all levels of policing

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calls a video capturing the violent arrest of a First Nations chief in Alberta “shocking,” saying it raises serious questions.

The RCMP dashcam footage shows an agitated exchange with officers outside a casino in Fort McMurray in March before a Mountie tackles Chief Allan Adam and throws punches at his head while he’s pinned down.

“We’re calling for an independent, transparent investigation that will get the answers to so many questions that people are asking right now,” Trudeau said Friday during his daily briefing.

The video footage shows an agitated exchange with officers outside a casino in Fort McMurray in March before a Mountie tackles Adam and throws punches at his head while he’s pinned.

Adam ended up bloodied and charged with resisting arrest and assaulting an officer.

Trudeau said it’s not an isolated incident and that systemic racism exists in Canada.

“Far too many Black Canadians and Indigenous people do not feel safe around the police,” he said. “It’s unacceptable. And as governments, we have to change that.”

He added he spoke with first ministers and premiers on Thursday about the need for policing reforms in Canada, including the adoption of police body cameras.

“And these reforms need to happen quickly, and in the days and weeks to come, our government will continue to move as fast as we can with all of our partners, women and men who serve in our police forces, to be part of the solution,” he said.

RELATED: Violent arrest of First Nations chief in Alberta ‘example of systemic racism that exists,’ lawyer says

“I think we’ve seen examples of systemic discrimination, systemic racism in the past days, in many different ways,” Trudeau added. “That’s why we need to address it seriously. That’s why we need both a clear, independent, transparent investigation in the cases brought forward. But it’s also why we need to look at the entire system and to improve it, to make sure that situations like this don’t happen in the future and that our police officers, who are there to protect and serve all Canadians, are able to do that for all Canadians.”

Trudeau also said the federal government has made significant steps over the past years on the collection of disaggregated data, but more needs to be done.

“We need race-based data to be able to understand exactly what’s going on, whether it’s in our communities, whether it’s with policing, whether it’s in financial sectors. Understanding the vulnerability that certain Canadians face in a systemic way is extremely important, which is why we have moved forward on disaggregated data, but why we will need to continue to do much more to better understand how our systems are unfair towards certain Canadians, particularly Black Canadians, Indigenous Canadians, and racialized Canadians.”

RELATED: PM promises to push police body-cameras with premiers

Adam’s lawyer is trying to have the charges against him stayed and has entered the video in court as part of his motion.

The Fort Chipewyan chief has called on the government to investigate the incident, which he said started over expired registration tags on his truck.

RCMP say, in a release, members were “required to use force to effect the arrest.”

Alberta’s serious incident response team is now investigating the incident.