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Ottawa police officer bemoans fate of ‘white man’ on TikTok video

The video, captured surreptitiously on a camera mounted inside an Ottawa garage, shows three white officers standing around a car, discussing race.

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A new viral video that shows a uniformed Ottawa police officer bemoaning the fate of the “white man” has renewed calls for reform and triggered an internal probe of the incident.

The video, captured surreptitiously on a camera mounted inside an Ottawa garage, shows three white officers standing around a car, discussing race. The video begins mid-sentence with one officer quoting someone else saying, “Our days are done, white man’s day is done.”

“He’s probably right,” a second officer agrees.

“Oh, I think he is right,” the first officer continues. “Well, if it’s true, even the population of North America is…we’re in the minority, I think, at this point.”

“If you put all the different groups together, yeah,” says the third officer, who’s furthest from the camera.

The first officer then expresses astonishment at the diversity on display on Toronto streets: “You go to Toronto and every couple you see walking by is a mixed couple, you don’t see two white people together, (you see) white-Asian, white-East Indian…I told my son you gotta find a Chinese or an Asian girl if he wants to stay in a mixed; get your foot in the door.”

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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.

Here’s the video for us dinosaurs that don’t have tiktok courtesy of @discobabayaga tiktok Ottawa police on some white genocide bs, this who they are this is who they attract, and you can’t reform this. #DefundThePolice https://t.co/rGSAD1HRQR pic.twitter.com/6RQswaBRP0 — Omar Kinnarath (@OmarX204) April 6, 2021

“All I know is that cops were having inappropriate conversations at his place,” Younis said. “We spread the video to raise awareness that this is happening in Ottawa.”

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Younis said the rhetoric on the video makes him feel sorry for any person of colour who had to deal with the principal officer involved “because he has this white nationalist bias in his heart.”

“Do I think he needs to be punished? No,” Younis added. “I believe in reform: I believe the Ottawa police do an incredible job in the community…l believe this is one person who is misinformed and needs guidance and needs help.”

An Ottawa police spokesperson said the service’s professional standards unit has launched an investigation of the incident.

“Regardless of the intent, the comments expressed in the video have negatively impacted community members and service members,” the service said in an official statement Thursday. “The comments are offensive and they have further eroded public trust as well as internal morale. Such statements are not consistent with the values of the Ottawa Police Service and they have no place in the policing profession.”

A spokesman for the Ottawa Black Diaspora Coalition said the video casts doubt on the effectiveness of the police service’s attempt at reform. “It calls it into question because, in reality, when people are not looking, this is how Ottawa police officers speak,” Jason Seguya said.

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Seguya said the racist language used in the video offers more support for the idea of moving resources away from the police and into social agencies that can be trusted by people of colour – an idea known as defunding. “How are we supposed to feel safe in our community when we know these are the people paid to protect us?” he asked.

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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.

Spratt said the officers should be identified and their language denounced by the police chief, mayor and police association president. “There needs to be swift and harsh consequences,” he said. “These sorts of comments, these sorts of attitudes, bring the administration of justice into disrepute.”

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.”

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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 executive 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.”

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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 a version of a meme that featured 11 current and former officers, most of them racialized, with the caption, “Ottawa Police Service, we’re always hiring…anyone.” An earlier version of similar meme, whose author is unknown, was denounced by Chief Peter Sloly as disgusting and overtly racist.

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