Racial tensions rise over police harassment
Facebook Twitter Email
Racial tensions rise over police harassment
MAY 4, 2000

Two Saskatoon police officers appeared in court Wednesday, charged with assault and unlawful confinement of a Saulteaux native man. They are accused of taking Darrell Night to the edge of town, removing his jacket, and telling him to find his way back during a freezing night in January.
Racial confrontation in Saskatoon Photo © CBC
The incident has raised tensions not just between the police and the Saskatchewan First Nations community but among whites as well.

Outside the courtroom, a friend of the officers and members of a group called the Grandmother's Vigil for Justice got into a shouting match.

"If you guys would let it go, it wouldn't turn into a racial issue," said Cheryl Soucy. "How much welfare are you guys on? How many jobs do you people have?" she continued. She also accused the press of "taking the Natives' side."

One might have predicted her response. When the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations set up a police harassment hotline, they received racist calls and letters. "If you people act like human beings instead of a bunch of animals, maybe everybody would get along better," said a caller.

The line was set in February in response to the deaths of other Native men. 25-year old Rodney Naistus and 30-year old Lawrence Wegner were found frozen to death in the same week Darrell Night came forth with his allegations. 33-year old Darcy Ironchild was also found dead.

Indian leaders and members of the community have been calling for a full independent investigation into the deaths. So far, the RCMP is handling the incidents. They will also investigate the case of Neil Stonechild, a 17-year old found dead outside Saskatoon in 1990.

The two officers are due to appear in court again in the fall, when a jury will decide if there is enough evidence for a trial to proceed.

Staff and news wires contributed to this report.

Relevant Links:
The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations:
CBC Magazine: Starlight Tours