George Floyd, 46, died May 25 in Minneapolis, as he was held down by a police officer’s knee while being arrested. The video shows Floyd pleading that he can’t breathe. Then, his eyes shut and the pleas stop. He was pronounced dead shortly after. As CNN reported, police officer Derek Chauvin, 44, who pinned Floyd to the ground by his neck for nearly nine minutes, was arrested last week and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. But on Wednesday prosecutors charged him with a more serious count of second-degree murder.
Officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao were arrested on Wednesday and charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. Lane and Kueng helped restrain Floyd, while Thao stood nearby.
THE BC RCMP released the following statement on behalf of Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan, Commanding Officer:
THE BC RCMP is monitoring the events in the United States of America and is deeply saddened by the anguish expressed by so many in the aftermath of George Floyds death in Minnesota on May 25, 2020.
As an organization, members and staff are unsettled by the events in the USA and what happened to Mr. Floyd.
We understand that there is an increased focus on how we address racism and biased-free policing in Canada, and that these events have caused members of the public to ask what the BC RCMP does as an organization to address this issue.
We recognize racism and other forms of discrimination exist in Canada. The BC RCMP acknowledges there is still work to be done to reduce, not just the impact but the very existence of discrimination. We continue to strengthen relationships with the people who live in our communities from all faiths, orientations, backgrounds and cultures to promote and foster an environment of inclusivity and diversity.
The BC RCMP has a dedicated Hate Crime Team which provides advice and guidance to police in the province investigating hate crimes. In many communities, the BC RCMP has worked with business owners to institute the Safe Place Program, offering shelter to LGBTQ2S+ if they are a victim of crime or have concern for their personal safety. The RCMPs Indigenous Policing program provides culturally-sensitive service to the more than 200 Indigenous communities in B.C.
The BC RCMP Senior Management Team has received advice and guidance from the Commanding Officers Cultural Diversity and Inclusion Board and Indigenous Cultural Advisory Committee in order to improve and promote inclusion in our organization and communities.
We strive to ensure biased-free policing within our own organization to foster an inclusive workplace and improve policing service to the public. We actively recruit from diverse groups to ensure we are reflective of the communities we serve. Beginning at Depot, RCMP cadets are taught to recognize biases, challenge assumptions and identify potential impacts of those biases. Similarily in the field, the Gender-Based Analysis+ (GBA+) course is mandatory for all members and civilian staff. We continue to make deliberate and significant investment in education and training of police officers and civilian members to address issues of racial bias and discrimination. These are some of the many ongoing efforts by the RCMP to address racism and other forms of prejudice.
The public should have confidence that BC RCMP officers adhere to the highest standards of professionalism in providing services to all citizens.
For those rare instances where an officer does not adhere to those standards, those officers are held accountable for their actions through various mechanisms. These include performance and conduct processes internally and the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) and Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia (IIOBC), externally.
Racism and discrimination are societal challenges that transcend policing, but the BC RCMP will continue its efforts to deliver a workplace and police services free of bias by addressing these issues openly and transparently as part of the global community’s united stand against prejudice. This is one of the ways in which we strive to improve ourselves, our service and public confidence in policing.