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Surrey sisters 'traumatized,' believe they were targeted by RCMP because they're Black

Last Updated Mar 3, 2021 at 6:47 pm PDT

Summary

Surrey family says RCMP investigating in her neighbourhood demanded they come out of their home with their hands up

Blanche Monabeka says her white neighbours were treated very differently

'An apology will not do,' says Black advocate in Metro Vancouver

SURREY (CityNews) – A family of four Black sisters in Surrey say they’re traumatized after all of them — including the youngest one at 10 years old — were told by police to get out of their home with their hands up, with seemingly no explanation.

They say their white neighbours were treated very differently.

Blanche Monabeka says around 5 p.m. on Monday, an officer came to her door and told her they had reports of a weapon in the area. Monabeka says they didn’t have any information, and so the officer told her to go back inside. A short time later, she and her sisters heard a police officer yelling on a megaphone for everyone to come out with their hands up.

“When I was on the phone with my mom, the last thing I told her was ‘Mom I am scared,’ and I put the phone down. But my sisters didn’t hear that … In the moment, I’m blocking out my feelings because this is about my sisters. I want to make sure they feel safe,” Monabeka told CityNews.

“We all just had our hands up I told them, ‘Walk slowly. Don’t say anything.’ And … I asked them ‘What is going on? Can someone please explain?’ and no one wanted to tell us anything. They just kept saying, ‘Get behind the car. Get behind the car,'” she said.

Ultimately the sisters, which included a 15-year-old and 10-year-old, were allowed to go back inside, all shaken up from the incident.

“I think you are so traumatized in the moment — whether or not they have guns — you don’t care. You are just trying to keep yourself safe,” Monabeka said.

Monabeka says she was confused because their house has tenants in the basement, both Caucasian. She says police only spoke to those tenants, but later never demanded they come out with their hands raised.

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She decided to share the experience through an Instagram video.

“I don’t think … all RCMP are bad. It’s specific RCMP,” she said in the video.

“It’s like okay, that’s something that will happen in the States. Like, that would never happen to us. But no, that legit happened to us,” she added.

 

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A post shared by B L A N C H E (@blanche_rm)

“It is hard for us to face police officers in general. And so, to have to face them in a situation like this is even more traumatizing,” Monabeka said.

Surrey RCMP confirmed Wednesday they were responding to a weapons complaint at the time. Cpl. Elenore Sturko says they are aware of the sisters’ video and are looking into the matter.

“We definitely are concerned with the concerns they are raising,” Sturko said. “What’s happening at this time is we have already had a senior officer reach out to that family. They will continue to reach out to them. They will continue to try to connect. Also, we will be investigating their concerns and we are continuing to do a review of that file.”

Dr. June Francis with the Hogan’s Alley Society says she was horrified when she heard the story. She describes it as “disturbing” and “saddening,” adding the incident needs to be closely looked at.

“An apology will not do,” she said. “We need now to take this as an example, to make systemic changes and also to address how we will recover for these young people — and all the Black people — because it is a collective trauma. We all feel it and when we see that, we become all collectively hurt and our sense of safety is deeply undermined.”