First Nations activist Audrey Siegl plans to file complaint after allegedly being injured by VPD

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      A prominent First Nations activist is claiming she was injured by an officer with the Vancouver Police Department.

      Audrey Siegl is a member of the Musqueam First Nation and a 2014 COPE candidate for city council who received more than 19,000 votes in last November’s civic election.

      In a telephone interview, she told the Straight she plans on filing a complaint and is speaking with lawyers about what additional legal options she might be able to pursue.

      According to Siegl, the incident occurred during a “Shutdown Canada” protest that was held the afternoon of Friday, February 13. She said she was standing with other demonstrators near the intersection of Clark Drive and East Hastings Street when, at approximately 4:15 p.m., a VPD officer stepped from behind a sawhorse barricade and began moving towards her.

      “And then he walked literally right into me,” Siegl continued. “Making eye contact with me, he used his shoulder to shove my drum into my face, and then kept walking.”

      Siegl said the drum cut her lip and left a bruise. Photographs confirm those injuries did occur, and a video posted on Facebook shows Siegl in close contact with a VPD officer during the February 13 protest.

      In an email to the Straight, VPD Const. Brian Montague, a spokesperson for the force, emphasized that the VPD attends hundreds of protests every year without incident.

      "Our officers are held accountable for everything they do and Ms. Siegl does have many options available to her if she is unhappy with the VPD or one of our officers," he wrote. "We would encourage Ms. Siegl to contact us directly to see if we can determine exactly how she received a cut lip and resolve or address any concerns or questions she may have. A more formal complaint process through our Professional Standards Section or the OPCC [Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner] is of course also available to her."

      Montague noted that there were four arrests made for breaches of the peace during the February 13 protest. He noted that Siegl was not one of those apprehended.

      In a subsequent interview, Montague said the VPD is “looking into” Siegl’s claims.

      "It is unfortunate if she was injured during the protest," he added.

      Siegl went on to argue that after she was allegedly injured by the constable, that he and other officers monitoring the protest failed to take her complaints seriously.

      “I was showing my lip to the other officers, saying ‘Look at what your buddy did,’” Siegl recounted. “Most of them wouldn’t make eye contact, a couple of them laughed and made jokes, and two of them told me that I deserved it.”

      Speaking more generally, Siegl suggested that the incident fits into a pattern of marginalization that has allowed for so many indigenous women to go missing or be murdered in the Downtown Eastside.

      “I don’t like that this happened, but this is a really public example of what happens every day in these streets so quietly,” she explained. “A lot of the police, a lot of people in society, still don’t see us as human beings. They are sure that when they brutalize an Indian woman, that not only is she not going to be taken seriously, but that nobody will care what happened to her.”

      Comments

      17 Comments

      Van Guy

      Feb 16, 2015 at 5:51pm

      Exactly what these particular protesters are looking for. Any alleged incident they can flaunt and promote to try to make the police out to be somehow responsible for all of the evils of man. Mission accomplished. As a contributing Vancouver tax-payer and law-abider, Siegl is not getting any votes from me in my lifetime as she assisted in breaking the law by impeding traffic in a major thoroughfare with no regard for the citizens she happily canvasses for civic election votes. Now how long for BC Civil Liberties and PIVOT to come out of the wood-work to spend more tax-payer dollars to do the same.

      Jonas

      Feb 16, 2015 at 6:16pm

      Oh brother.....

      Carole James' Eyebrows

      Feb 16, 2015 at 6:16pm

      I suspect that this alleged incident will continue to be championed by the likes of Siegl as further evidence that all police and law-abiding citizens are somehow to blame for everything unjust. I for one, don't buy it from these imperfect people expecting perfection from all else.

      Steve y

      Feb 16, 2015 at 6:18pm

      brutalized? She didn't move out of the way of a police officer. Any citizen would be lucky to get away with a bruised lip

      Was she blocking traffic at the time?

      Feb 16, 2015 at 7:41pm

      The only relevant question other than the name / ID of the allegedly-offending officer.

      And a lot of commenters above are either creating the background story out of whole cloth plus colours from their fevered dreams, or know more than this story provides (but they haven't provided their own links to back up their allegations).

      Plus some obvious authority-fellating fetishists posting for some reason.

      come on GS

      Feb 16, 2015 at 8:30pm

      way to drop the ball GS... too lazy to get us some close up pics of her injury

      Stephen

      Feb 16, 2015 at 9:55pm

      Good on the Georgia Straight for following this story. I for one choose to reserve judgement until the facts have been made known. Interesting that most commentators so far are quick to exonerate the police and dismiss the complainant.

      Martin Dunphy

      Feb 16, 2015 at 10:38pm

      come on:

      That is a bit hard to accomplish when you are not actually there.

      Weirdly Enough

      Feb 17, 2015 at 10:31am

      I like her style - instead of filing a complaint, go public with your accusation and then threaten to file a complaint! What a wonderful interpretation of process.

      I'm surprised she didn't just swear herself onto council while she was at it.

      @Stephen

      Feb 17, 2015 at 10:33am

      It's not exonerating the police nor dismissing the complaint. Both of those things can't happen until she files one and the matter is investigated... Instead she opted for the media, which cuts pretty deeply against her credibility.