With similar demonstrations going on in several cities and across provinces, support for UBCO student Mona Wang was evident on Saturday, July 11.
In Kelowna’s Stuart Park, approximately 60 residents showed up to support the student who launched a lawsuit against Const. Lacey Browning after a rough wellness check.
Residents were all wearing masks and observed physical distancing. City councillors Mohini Singh and Loyal Wooldridge attended the event to show their support for Wang.
Counc. Wooldridge said it’s important to talk about the police force and how they use their power.
“This is important because one, we have to speak out about excessive use of force, which was quite evident in that video. And two, to look at the underfunding of mental health and substance use services in Kelowna and how we’re supporting our residents,” he said.
“I think we need to look at our community safety as a service we’re offering and that encapsulates multi-agency response, not just the RCMP. Rallies like this are key in continuing the conversation. It can’t just peak and then drop off, we have to continue to bring agencies together around one table to see how we can best serve the community.”
Peachland mayor Cindy Fortin also attended the event. She said she felt compelled to show her support as a mother.
“When I saw that young woman being dragged down the hallway and her head stepped on, it just broke my heart. I was choked up. I was thinking about my own daughter, who went to UBCO and stayed at the dorms,” she said.
“All of us have bad days, and all of us have our times with mental health issues… and we just need more sensitivity training on behalf of the RCMP to recognize and to ensure that when they go to these wellness checks, they bring along the resources or a person who’s experienced in dealing with mental health issues.”
She added she hopes Wang knows there are many people who support her not just in Kelowna, but in other cities as well.
Surveillance video of the wellness check showed Wang being dragged down the hallway of her apartment building, then the RCMP officer, alleged to be Const. Lacey Browning, using a boot to push the student’s head down. In her civil suit, Wang alleged she suffered injuries to her face, upper thigh, right breast, sternum and her forearms.