Protesters who gathered to speak out against police brutality last Sunday were rich in frustrations with the status quo, but relatively poor in numbers.
Around 120 braved sub-zero temperatures to attend the event that was supposed to bring in five times that number to discuss the shortcomings, as well as the successes, of the RCMP.
While some attended just to heckle the police, the event also acted as an opportunity to discuss their conduct and the tools to hold them accountable and everyone from those who claimed to be victims of mistreatment to others who shape policy weighed in on the issue.
Mayor Sharon Shepherd spoke to the crowd of just over one hundred, and pointed out city council will lobby for an RCMP civilian oversight committee to review serious citizen complaints against members of the police force.
It’s just one of many measures another speaker, Linda Bush, said should be considered as institution is failing Canadians.
The mother of Ian Bush , the 22 year old who was shot in the back of the head at the RCMP detachment in Houston shortly after he was arrested for having an open beer at a hockey game in October 2005 , explained she had more than enough anger to tap in to when it comes to the RCMP.
Her focus, however, is on enacting a shift in policy.
“Not all police are bad, but the system needs to be changed,” she said, adding that contrary to the investigation into her son’s death, Mounties have already moved away from investigating themselves when charges of misconduct come to the fore. But more reform is necessary.
Now, she said, there needs to be focus on continual training of members, and whether the length of the RCMP contract is ideal.
“We need to speak with federal politicians and the province needs to know what we want,” she said.
And, while Buddy Tavares’ struggles have been a good catalyst for public input, the issue is larger than him.
It’s something Tavares confirmed as he pointed out that while he’s blessed to have the support of the community, it’s time to move on, and stop painting all police with the same brush.
“They’ve got enough negative publicity,” he said of the RCMP.
“You can’t let the actions of a few scar (the entire group).”
As the event came to an end, organizer Darin Howard vowed to keep moving forward on measures to hold police accountable, saying he’s planning another rally for June.