VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Vancouver’s mayor admits he did not condemn the arrest of a First Nations grandfather and his 12-year-old granddaughter outside the Bank of Montreal “strongly enough” when it happened.
Two years ago, when Maxwell Johnson was trying to open an account for his granddaughter, Vancouver police were called to the bank after a BMO employee claimed they had produced “fraudulent Indian Status cards.”
Mayor Kennedy Stewart says the arrests were a “glaring example of the systemic racism that remains pervasive in all our institutions,” before going on to apologizing to the Indigenous girl who was arrested and her grandfather.
On Wednesday, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs released security footage of the arrest.
“I’ve just reviewed the new newly released CCTV footage and it really is just made me sick to my stomach. I can’t help mentally connecting this event with the news coming out of Kamloops and across the country concerning the genocidal legacy of residential schools,” Stewart says.
“I should have done better, and I will do my best from now on never make that mistake again.”
Stewart says systemic racism exists in “all institutions” including the “City of Vancouver, the Bank of Montreal … the Vancouver police board and the department it oversees.”
“Naming systemic racism is not an attack on individual employees. It is pointing out that the way in which we make decisions and policies is broken. Naming systemic racism is simply the necessary starting point on any journey to become better.”
Stewart wants the police department to address systemic racism — and he’s asking the province to give mayors like him who chair police boards more power.
“Unfortunately, the laws which govern my authority as chair of the Vancouver police board, prevent me from moving or amending motions or leading any policy changes or reviews,” he says.
Last year, Chief Const. Adam Palmer said systemic racism wasn’t evident in Canadian policing. When asked if the wrongful handcuffing and detention of Vancouver’s first Black Supreme Court justice last month changed how he views that, he said simply, “No, it doesn’t.”