The RCMP Community Policing statement is displayed in the Ponoka RCMP detachment. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)

The RCMP Community Policing statement is displayed in the Ponoka RCMP detachment. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)

RCMP’s response to online discussions about anti-racism demonstrations

Ponoka RCMP Staff Sgt.’s comments misattributed online

The Alberta RCMP released a statement recently, in support of Ponoka RCMP detachment Staff Sgt. Chris Smiley after he was criticized online for a comment taken out of context.

“The Alberta RCMP would like to acknowledge online discussions that have taken place over the past weeks regarding a recent event in Red Deer,” the statement reads.

“Our intent is to clarify our role at this event and to explain how a comment made by one of our officers was taken out of context.

“When the Sept. 20 Red Deer demonstration was posted on Twitter, video footage of comments made by S/Sgt. Chris Smiley were highlighted. We must be clear that the comments made by S/Sgt. Chris Smiley were widely misattributed to the Red Deer demonstration.”

S/Sgt. Smiley gave an interview to broadcast media that were present at the press conference organized by the Black and Indigenous Alliance (BIA) on Sept. 14 in front of the Ponoka RCMP detachment building.

According to Smiley, he was asked why members didn’t take action against those present who were vocally interrupting the press conference, and he answered that both sides had a right to be heard under Canadian law.

READ MORE: Black and Indigenous Alliance Alberta criticizes Ponoka RCMP

Smiley says a few warnings for language were issued during the press conference on Sept. 14, but as there were no physical threats to safety, the conference was allowed to continue without police involvement.

Under the Criminal Code of Canada, a person can be charged with causing a disturbance if they are “fighting, screaming, shouting, swearing, singing or using insulting or obscene language” in or near a public place.

“The police have a profound and taxing responsibility to balance individual rights with society’s need for security and our detachment succeeded with that responsibility during those events,” said Smiley.

An anti-racism demonstration was held in Red Deer on Sept. 20, at which event three assaults allegedly took place and are now under investigation by the RCMP,” said Alberta RCMP in the release.

“The first assault occurred while organizers were arriving to set-up for the event. The RCMP were not yet on site at this time but were contacted, and upon arrival spoke to the victim.

“The second assault took place during the event. The RCMP did not witness this assault but once police officers became aware of what had happened, they separated the parties, provided assistance to the victim, and identified the suspect. A video of the assault was then posted online with comments that police stood by and did nothing, which is incorrect. To clarify, once again, the police did not witness the incident but once we became aware of it, we took immediate action and an investigation was initiated.

“While investigating the second assault, police became aware of a third assault. This incident remains under investigation.”

Protests, demonstrations and rallies that have taken place in Ponoka have been peaceful, with no verified incidents of violence. An alleged vehicle hit on Sept. 10 at which two groups of protesters were present was investigated, but no video footage was ever submitted to RCMP.

READ MORE: Ponoka RCMP seeking footage of alleged vehicle hit

“At both the Red Deer and Ponoka events, RCMP officers were focused on ensuring the demonstrations could occur in a peaceful manner and addressing issues that interfered with this basic right,” said Alberta RCMP.

“It’s important to reiterate that all Albertans have the right to peaceful assembly and demonstration. The Alberta RCMP is a neutral party and we have a duty to ensure all Albertans’ rights are upheld. In the event of an unlawful act that threatens the physical safety of the demonstrators and the general public, the RCMP will take measured steps to ensure that those who unlawfully interfere with or threaten the safety of any person or property will be held accountable in accordance with the laws of Canada.

“The Alberta RCMP is proud to be Alberta’s Provincial Police Service and we are proud of our employees who devote their lives to Albertans each and every day. We have worked hard to build trusting, safe relationships with the communities that make Alberta strong. We are committed to being transparent and accountable.”

Smiley noted that it is a trying time for police all across North America right now, as an anti-police narrative has begun to gain traction, with talk in Canada about defunding the RCMP due to concern over racism in the force.

”I know deep down in those people’s hearts that they know we do not deserve that,” he said.

Smiley referenced former U.S. President Barack Obama, who said to police chiefs in Chicago in 2015, “Too often, law enforcement gets scapegoated for broader failures of our society and our criminal justice system … We’ve got to resist the false trap that says either there should be no accountability for police, or that every police officer is suspect, no matter what they do.” (theatlantic.com)

Ponoka RCMP

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
The County of Stettler has now been classified as an ‘enhanced’ region for COVID-19

According to the Province, there are now 10 active cases in the County, which has a population of 12,449 people

Annette Hunter
Clearview Public Schools and Alberta Teachers Association honours retiree Annette Hunter

Hunter taught Kindergarten, Grade 2, and Grade 3 over her 35-year career

A scene from last year’s Light the Night fundraising event at the Stettler Town and Country Museum. This year’s rendition is on a drive-through basis only, but it still promises to be a not-to-be-missed seasonal event.
Independent file photo
Stettler Town and Country Museum hosts ‘Light the Night’

This year’s rendition is drive-through only, but will still prove to be a dazzling display

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, confirmed eight additional virus-deaths Monday afternoon including one in central zone. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
New record: Red Deer at 236 active COVID cases

One more death in central zone reported

Janelle Robinson owns and operates Spirit’s Respite Ranch near Stettler. The Ranch, just north of Stettler, is an animal therapy ranch that helps those with special needs and conditions ranging from PTSD to anxiety. Mark Weber/Stettler Independent
Spirit’s Respite Ranch near Stettler provides support through animal interaction

‘I also come from a family of doers - if something that is needed isn’t there, you just figure it out’

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says as Canada’s deficit tops $381B

‘The risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much’

Executive Director and Co-Founder of Rock Soup Craig Haavalsen is sleeping in a tent outside Rock Soup’s location until the Go Fund Me for Rock Soup raises $10,000. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
Putting normalcy into asking for help: New non-profit sets up in Wetaskiwin

Rock Soup non-profit is a new non-secular Food Bank putting down roots in Wetaskiwin.

Wetaskiwin Composite High School. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
Wetaskiwin Regional Public Schools prepare for transition back to online learning

Grades 7-12 will are mandated to transfer to online learning starting Nov. 30, 2020.

Lawyer Devon Page, Ecojustice Canada’s executive director, pauses during a news conference in Vancouver on Wed., Sept. 26, 2012. The environmental law group has lost its bid to pause Alberta’s inquiry into where critics of its oil and gas industry get their funding. Ecojustice sought an injunction this summer to suspend the inquiry, headed by forensic accountant Steve Allan, until there is a decision on whether it’s legal. nbsp;THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Judge tosses application to pause Alberta inquiry into funding of oil and gas foes

Ecojustice sought an injunction in the summer to suspend the inquiry

Janelle Robinson owns and operates Spirit’s Respite Ranch near Stettler. The Ranch, just north of Stettler, is an animal therapy ranch that helps those with special needs and conditions ranging from PTSD to anxiety. Mark Weber/Stettler Independent
Spirit’s Respite Ranch near Stettler provides support through animal interaction

‘I also come from a family of doers - if something that is needed isn’t there, you just figure it out’

A pedestrian makes their way through the snow in downtown Ottawa on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Wild winter, drastic swings in store for Canada this year: Weather Network

In British Columbia and the Prairies, forecasters are calling for above-average snowfall levels

NDP Leader John Horgan, left, speaks as local candidate Ravi Kahlon listens during a campaign stop at Kahlon’s home in North Delta, B.C., on April 18, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Most Read