Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum says an “unauthorized person” was to blame for the Safe Surrey Coalition’s posting and subsequent deleting of social media posts that accused RCMP officers of murdering a man and cover it up by destroying evidence.
The tweet and Facebook post were posted Friday (May 29) on the Safe Surrey Coalition’s social media accounts.
The posts stated, “Poorly trained RCMP murder a defenceless man and then delete video evidence to cover up their crime.”
Curious to know if Surrey’s mayor and council majority back the sensationalist, inflammatory and potentially libelous language of this tweet, or just the party handlers, for political gain they desire? #SurreyBC— Tom Zillich (@TomZillich) May 30, 2020
For the record here is the tweeted story: https://t.co/KoJzbj26sW pic.twitter.com/EqQDLvkuMC
The comment included a link to a news story about the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. recommending charges against five officers in the death of a Prince George man in 2017.
McCallum said on Saturday that he “wasn’t aware of it at all, and actually had no knowledge and I hadn’t even seen it until somebody phoned me about an hour ago.”
“I actually don’t agree with it and I looked into it and can say that it won’t ever happen again. It was sent out by an unauthorized person. They recognized immediately that it was a mistake and they took it off within 15 minutes,” he said.
Asked if the social media accounts would be acknowledging what happened, McCallum said, “I’m not going to put out any, but I have talked to a couple (of) press on it. I’ve also talked to the RCMP on it and they’re going to let their internal communications say exactly basically what I said to you.”
He said that he’d previously said that social media posts “would have to run by myself” in order to be posted.
“But in this case, it didn’t go past me,” McCallum explained. “We’ve corrected that and it won’t happen again. I have, and certainly Safe Surrey Coalition, have tremendous respect for the RCMP.”
Safe Surrey Coalition Councillor Laurie Guerra, who said she doesn’t use Twitter anymore, said she didn’t see the posts before they were taken down, but was made aware through text and speaking with fellow Councillor Doug Elford.
She said that Elford “talked to the powers that be at the Safe Surrey Coalition and that the tweet was taken down.”
“If I had seen it, I would have done the same thing that Councillor Elford had done and I totally agree with him. It was an unacceptable comment and I think that I would have advised to take it down immediately and I think that’s what they did.”
When asked if she knew who had access to the account and could have posted it, she said, “There’s a team of people and I don’t know who, which person or whatever, so no, I don’t know. Individually, I don’t know.”
Going forward, Guerra said she would “absolutely” want to have more control and understanding on who’s posting. She said that while she “can’t really apologize on behalf of somebody else,” she wouldn’t have put that up online.
“People make mistakes, and I’m one of them. I’m a human being and I’ve made mistakes, and I think the only thing we can do as humans is own the mistake and deal with it and move on. I think that’s what they did,” Guerra said.
“I would be very sorry to have been a part of anything that would have caused any hurt or any disrespect to anybody. That is not what I stand on, so I would be very apologetic for those comments. I wouldn’t have said those comments, and If I’d ever done any comment on any Twitter or any Facebook post that would have hurt somebody, I would have owned it and apologized for it and moved on.”
Meantime, Councillor Jack Hundial, who initially ran and was elected with Safe Surrey Coalition, said the post was “upsetting” and “beyond sickening and shameful.”
As of Saturday afternoon, Hundial hadn’t spoken with anyone on the Safe Surrey slate about the posts.
“It’s not up to me to police them as politicians… Their own moral compass should direct them in the right way.”
As for repercussions for the posts, Hundial said, you can’t accuse the officers of murder, “who, really, are through the normal course of their duty and process where there’s proposed charges — recommended through the IIO — but not even convicted or charged yet. They’re just proposed. The charges have been forwarded and we’ll see what happens.”
It could also affect those who may want to apply for the Surrey Police Department, Hundial said.
“How do you even recruit police officers, it doesn’t matter if they’re RCMP or they’re from another organization, to come forth and work in the City of Surrey when, really, the mayor, who’s also going to be the chair of the police board, will call you out potentially as a murderer when you get entwined in an investigation. how much confidence does that instill for anyone to come here to work?”