An Ontario police officer is in hot water over a racist Facebook post.
Constable Rob Steudle, an officer in Thunder Bay, Ontario is currently under internal investigation after making a racist reply on an article posted by a local newspaper’s Facebook page on September 17. The replies in question were made to an article about Thunder Bay police verbally assaulting a race-relations trainer.
“These types of comments are not acceptable,” Thunder Bay police spokesperson Chris Adams told the CBC. “They do not reflect the values of the Thunder Bay Police Service. We would like to apologize to our Indigenous community for the hurt these comments may cause.”
In Steudle’s post, which has since been removed, he did not identify himself as a police officer.
“Natives are killing natives and it’s the white mans fault natives are drunk on the street and its white mans fault natives are homeless and its white mans fault and now natives are lying about how they are treated by white men an explanation is given and it’s the white men who are lying. Well let’s stop giving the natives money and see how that goes,” said Steudle.
With a murder rate of 3.84 percent per capita, Thunder Bay is one of few Canadian cities in which murder rates rival those in some U.S. cities.
According to Statistics Canada, in 2014 Thunder Bay had the highest homicide rate among Canada’s 34 census metropolitan areas.
Stats Canada says the Canadian aboriginal community has a rate of homicide that is six times higher than that of any other group in Canada.
Aboriginal males also had a seven times higher rate when compared to non-aboriginal males. In 2014 they were 23% of the total homicide victims while accounting for about 5 per cent of the Canadian population.
“Everybody has biases, whether you’re a police officer or a member of society, and … our job as police officers is to ensure that those biases don’t impact the work that we’re doing,” said Ottawa Chief of Police Charles Bordeleau in response to another case involving an officer named Chris Hrnchiar, who is also under investigation for his alleged comments a Facebook news post from the Ottawa Citizen.
Hrnchiar allegedly made derogatory comments on Facebook about the death of Inuk artist Annie Pootoogook, saying that the aboriginal community was “just satisfied being alcohol or drug abusers”, and adding that “Typically many Aboriginals have very short lifespans, talent or not.”
But Chief Bordeleau stopped short of calling the incident racist.
On Thursday, he told Ottawa Morning that “He’s (Sargent Hrnchair) in a capacity where, from my perspective, he doesn’t need to be removed from his duties right now as we continue this investigation. We’ll be working with him and our officers will be interviewing him and ascertaining exactly the circumstances and the context around why he would make such, such, these comments,” adding: “I have no evidence to indicate that we have racist officers.”
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