Demonstrators gathered in Vancouver and three other B.C. cities to call for greater police accountability on Saturday.
The demonstrations are focused on the case of Mona Wang, a university nursing student who was handcuffed, dragged and stepped on during an RCMP mental health wellness check in Kelowna in January.
Speaking to a crowd of several dozen at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Wang put her experience in the context of a string of recent police-involved deaths in Canada and the U.S., many involving people of colour.
“I am not the first and I will not be the last to have this happen to me,” said Wang.
“So many people since I have told my story have come out and said that similar things have happened to them, except they did not have video surveillance.”
More than 370,000 people have since signed a petition for Const. Lacy Browning, the officer seen on video dragging Wang, to be fired.
Police have since apologized.
Wang urged supporters to continue to speak up about their concerns with police use of force.
“If there are people telling you that you are too aggressive, that you are too angry, say, ‘Yes, I am, I am angry,'” she said.
“Because whereas some people may not care, there are lives on the line, there is my life on the line … I will do everything I can to make sure something like this will not happen again.”
Wang called for the defunding of police, with money moved instead into specialized support services.
Earlier this month, RCMP Southeast District Chief Supt. Brad Hougli said he was “deeply concerned” by the video, and has called for Kelowna’s police and crisis team, also known as the PACT program, to be expanded.
Interior Health says it’s not planning to expand the PACT program at this time, but that it is committed to working with RCMP and considering expanding other crisis outreach and response programs.
Demonstrations in support of Wang were also held in Kelowna, Surrey and Richmond on Saturday.
-With files from Jules Knox