I want to talk about Colten Boushie.
Race. Is. At. Play. Here. If you can’t figure that out, read about the case, and switch all the race “roles” and see how it sounds and feels to you then. Think about how the media has framed the conversation. Check your assumptions.
There is a reason this case has become symbolic of the Canadian justice system.
-The whole jury was white. The WHOLE JURY. In Canada you can dismiss jurors without reason due to peremtory challenges. Even the Minister of Justice was concerned about this at jury selection. Perhaps it’s time we changed that? #NativeLivesMatter
-Experts agree the weapon wasn’t malfunctioning or that it would be extremely extremely unlikely. This was the main defense. A nearly unheard of type of accident. There was a warped case present at the scene but still incredibly unlikely.
-Why is the victim’s character on trial? Even if Stanley was legitimately scared–he says he didn’t shoot in self defense or to protect property. He relied on the “It was an accident” and a “hangfire”. So why is the whole conversation about whether Boushie & his friends were drinking or stealing?
-The way I’ve heard ppl talk about the case, I need to say: Your property isn’t worth anyone’s life. Also even if he had Vigilante “justice” is *actually* illegal in Canada. According to Stanley he thought they were stealing an ATV, then accidentally hit an SUV while escaping. No charges were laid regarding any theft or attempted theft. Nothing stolen was found in the car. Death penalty for possible misdemeanors is *not* okay.
-Living rural can be a bit scary because it does take a *long* time for reinforcements to come. But crime rates are going down in Saskatchewan. And it’s hard to believe in the process of smashing a wind shield with a hammer and kicking out a light on their car as people try to escape and firing 2 shots ‘in the air’ to scare them, ‘forgetting how many bullets” you’d loaded, and claiming you believed your gun was EMPTY and still somehow had a hangfire that KILLED SOMEONE after staying in the chamber for an UNHEARD of amount of time. Still having FULL acquittal of any charges? Is a really scary social precedent. I read the comments section, and Gerald Stanley supporters don’t believe this defense. They believe he is justified in self defense and protection of property. That is not the law. And with the calibre of talk around this case, it sounds like a license to kill Indigenous youth for “trespassing.”
-Colten was unarmed. They were likely drinking, likely asleep or passed out, perhaps his friends were stealing an ATV and “on someone else’s property”. But he was an unarmed 22 year old trying to leave when he was shot. Point Blank. In the back of the head.
-Would you ever see a white family treated like this if their son had just been shot? Supposedly “accidentally shot.” Would your home be searched and guns drawn when they told you?
-EVEN IF THE WEAPON MALFUNCTIONED, POINTING A WEAPON TO THE BACK OF SOMEONE’S HEAD IN A WAY THAT RESULTS IN THEIR DEATH IS EXTREME RECKLESSNESS THAT IS GROUNDS FOR FINDING OF MURDER. In the military you are trained never to point a gun at someone unless your intention is to shoot. This “accident” would never have happened without recklessness. To most, beyond a reasonable doubt. Murder without consequence is terrifying.
–Acquittals in murder trials in Canada are RARE. Around 3%. The conversation around supporters of Gerald Stanley are *not* mentioning or believing an accidental misfire. The conversation is around property rights, racism, vigilante justice. This verdict says to the public “The law should change so we can shoot trespassers.”
You can bet racists with take this as a social precedent to shoot Indigenous men on sight with little impunity, You can bet Indigenous people know this and are rightfully outraged and TERRIFIED.
There so much else about how stacked the deck was against Colton Boushie. Like the prejudiced-sounding RCMP press releases about the ‘no charges pressed’ theft (?) against Boushie’s friends, loss of the vehicle and lack of collection of evidence, the media talking about the idea of trespassing on treaty land, the having tea when the cops arrived, forcing Cree to name and look at images of the recently dead , having a flat tire and going to someone’s house where he fixes cars… The fact that Saskatchewan has the highest rate of aboriginals in correctional services, at about 74 per cent, despite representing only 12 per cent of the adult population, the fact that Boushie’s family doesn’t even have running water or toilets in their house and that Boushie showed no signs of violence according to anyone’s testimony, and yet there is rampant horrifying murderous racist commentary promoting extermination ??
These have compounding impacts, ramifications, traumas.
As I heard on Canadaland:
“To aboriginal people, this is not a singular event… What is rock bottom for Indigenous people? What is rock bottom for Canada?…How far are we willing to carry forth this agenda of oppression and settler colonialism?”
There is a reason people are calling this The Mississippi of The North, “The Rodney King of Western Canada.”
It’s not simple. And we need to heal. Justice is good medicine.
Let’s talk. Let’s change.