The chief of the Edmonton Police Service is calling the death of George Floyd “unwanted” and “criminal.”
In a video produced by the EPS, Chief Dale McFee said systemic racism is “all inclusive,” adding it impacts the Indigenous, LGBTQ, Muslim and, in particular right now, the Black community.
“It’s made us all look at ourselves internally, externally and realize this in particular, this death, is certainly not part of the profession of policing,” McFee said of the video that shows a white police officer kneeling on the Black man’s neck during an arrest.
McFee said there needs to be accountability.
In a direct address to the Black African Canadian Community, McFee promised to “walk shoulder to shoulder, be with you, help you get through this, help that your voice is being heard.”
The Edmonton Police Service created the African Community Liason Committee in 2010, a time when advocates say the relationship between the force and the community was at its worst.
The purpose of the committee was to create harmony.
Co-chair Jibril Ibrahim said it has been successful in that respect, but there is more work to be done.
“I don’t think they have developed the training material with the academy and used that information to teach our officers,” said Ibrahim.
He is also the president of the Somali Canadian Cultural Society and told Global News he wants to see changes to street checks.
In 2017, documents showed Black people were 3.6 times more likely to be stopped during a street check in Edmonton. Indigenous people were four times more likely and Indigenous women were 6.5 times more likely to be stopped.
“I think the EPS, they need to have an external audit to come in and see whether the people who are stopped are not … Aboriginal or people of colour disproportionately,” said Ibrahim.
McFee acknowledged action is needed in the distributed video.
“And ensure the events of George Floyd and what we’re seeing in our neighbours to our south doesn’t play out the same way in Canada, but at the same time, leads to meaningful, respectful and much-needed change.”
McFee did not directly address what changes, if any, the Edmonton Police Service would be considering.
Ibrahim told Global News that ever since McFee took over the service, he is not sure what the future is for the ACLC. He said he hopes they can continue to work together to prevent the same tragedy that has taken place south of the border.
Edmonton’s High Level Bridge will go dark on Tuesday night for Blackout Tuesday.