Dozens of people converged on downtown Edmonton’s Winston Churchill Square on Friday evening as Black Lives Matter held a rally calling for more to be done in response to a video that’s surfaced showing a black teen being thrown to the ground by transit peace officers at an LRT station.
“For those who don’t know, he (the teen in the video) was waiting for a bus at Belvedere LRT Station,” said Bashir Mohamed, who’s with the Edmonton chapter of Black Lives Matter, who also mentioned the teen was black and that he believes this was a case of racial profiling. “It was January, it was cold, the peace officer came and said that he was loitering so he told the kid to leave.”
Watch below: Black Lives Matter is calling for a review of Edmonton’s transit peace officer training program. As Kent Morrison explained on March 1, 2018, the demand for action was brought on by an incident at an LRT station.
Mohamed alleges the teen then told two transit officers he wouldn’t leave because he had a right to be there and that it was at that point that they “put him against the railing and put him on the ground.”
The video shows two officers on top of the youth and the youth’s lawyer says his face was injured and his eyeglasses were broken in the incident before he was given a $250 fine for loitering.
The City of Edmonton is conducting an internal review. Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) told Global News one of the officers in the video has since taken on a new job, adding the change in employment is unrelated to the incident. The other officer is still working in the same capacity.
“We’re calling for those officers to be suspended while the investigation is ongoing,” Mohamed said. “In addition, we’re calling for a review of the peace officer program — right now, there’s very little public oversight. For example, right now there’s no independent commission, no independent body that’s meant to provide oversight.
Mohamed cited an incident that recently unfolded in Toronto, involving a teen and a fare inspector, and said he was pleased to see that city’s mayor offer a public statement on the matter.
Watch below: The Toronto Transit Commission is investigating after a video posted online appeared to show several transit officers and police officers pin down a teenager.
“The mayor responded, the ombudsperson launched their own review and the officers were suspended,” Mohamed said.
The Black Lives Matter activist also said he believes transit peace officers are taking on more police-type roles despite the fact their training is much less rigorous than that required for police officers.
“Black Lives Matter has raised this issue about the training that these peace officers have and they of course hear lots of complaints about peace officers,” Tom Engel, the lawyer for the teen in the Edmonton LRT station video, told Global News on Thursday. “And so there’s a real issue about whether this is a systemic problem that the solicitor general needs to straighten out because the solicitor general is in charge of peace officers as well.”
On a night where Edmonton was bracing for another blast of winter weather late in the season, Mohamed said he was heartened to see dozens of people show up to the rally.
“It’s humbling and even if people don’t agree with us (Black Lives Matter), our message, our group; people can agree that there needs to be more transparency and openness. I think that’s something most Edmontonians support.”
-With files from Kent Morrison