A high-profile Indigenous chief in northern Alberta has claimed that he was beaten up by RCMP over a licence-plate violation.
Chief Allan Adam of the Athabaska Chipewyan First Nation said the incident occurred in the early morning of March 10 outside the Peter Pond Mall.
"The licence plate tags on my truck had recently expired, and while the situation could have been easily resolved by simply reminding us to renew the tags and take a taxi home, officers used the occasion to beat and arrest me in front of family and a number of witnesses in the parking lot," Adam alleged.
The RCMP and the director of law enforcement with the Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General's office in Alberta have discussed this incident, according to a news release posted today on the Wood Buffalo RCMP detachment's website.
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team will conduct an investigation.
"An independent investigation into incidents involving police are important as it contributes to the trust and confidence the public has in their police service," says a statement posted on the Wood Buffalo RCMP detachment's website today.
That's a reversal from the RCMP's statement on Saturday (June 6), which claimed that what happened to Adam did not meet the threshold for an external investigation.
The earlier statement disclosed that the incident was captured by a video system attached to a police vehicle.
Adam has been charged with resisting arrest and assaulting police in the execution of their duty under the Criminal Code.
The chief is due to appear in Wood Buffalo Provincial Court on July 2.
Below, you can see a video of his arrest taken by someone in the parking lot.
Adam declared in his statement that what occurred to him is not unusual or shocking.
"This happens every day to black, brown, low income and Indigenous people across Canada," he wrote. "Despite only representing 5% of the population, Indigenous Canadians make up over 30% of the prison population here.
"Structural racism, out of date policing methods and the diminished socio-economic status of Indigenous Canadians means that we rarely have a fighting chance in our judicial and policing system," Adam continued. "Canadians spend billions on policing every year, and deserve a police force that protects and respects the individual dignity of every single citizen—rich, poor, black, brown or Indigenous.
"No one should have to go through what I went through. I urge the Government of Canada to fully investigate this matter, and to release the body camera video of my assault. Canadians deserve to know what their tax dollars are paying for."