Ottawa police investigating video of officer saying 'white man's day is done'
Ottawa police are investigating a security video from 2019 showing an officer in conversation with colleagues saying that ‘white man's day is done,’ before they appear to make several other comments on race. (Submitted)
TORONTO -- Ottawa police are investigating a security video showing an officer in conversation with colleagues saying that ‘white man's day is done,’ before they appear to make several other comments on race.
Security footage from inside an Ottawa home’s garage shows three white officers standing around a car, seemingly unaware they are being recorded. The owner of the footage, who is Black and declined a request for an interview, told CTVNews.ca the footage was captured in 2019.
The video, snippets of which have made the rounds online, begins with one of the officers mid-sentence saying, "our days are done. White man's day is done." A second officer replies, "you're probably right,” with a third appearing to say, "you're onto something."
The first officer continues by saying, “well, if it’s true, even the population of North America is…[unintelligible] we’re in the minority, I think, at this point.”
Another officer then says: “If you put all the different groups together, yeah.”
“You go to Toronto and every couple you see walking by is a mixed couple, you don’t see two white people together, [you see] white-Asian, white-East Indian. I told my son you gotta find a Chinese or an Asian girl if he wants to stay in a mixed. [Unintelligible] Get your foot in the door.”
An Ottawa Police Service spokesperson said they are “aware of the video” and their Professional Standards Unit is investigating it.
“Regardless of the intent, the comments expressed in the video have negatively impacted community members and Service members. The comments are offensive and they have further eroded public trust as well as internal morale. Such statements are not consistent with the values of the Ottawa Police Service and they have no place in the policing profession” read a statement from the OPS via email.
COMMUNITY LEADER: 'VIDEO IS REALLY, REALLY SICK'
Advocates say they’re unfortunately not shocked by many of the comments in the video.
“What was seen in that video is really, really sick but it’s something that a lot of us know goes on anyways,” Jason Seguya, spokesperson for Ottawa Black Diaspora Coalition told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview. He said watching it is traumatizing for many in his community.
He said the comments show why potential solutions such as unconscious bias training -- which has been pushed by police agencies in Toronto and Ottawa -- don’t go far enough as a means to address racism.
Seguya said this is because they hinge on the premise that “we will train the bigotry out of these individuals.”
He explained that people and officers simply knowing about their unconscious bias will only teach them that racist comments are unacceptable in public, but not deter them from making or believing them in private.
“What we saw in those videos are normal, regular conversations about what goes on while no one’s watching,” he said, adding that the video shows why there’s a persistent distrust many in Ottawa’s Black communities have towards police.
“It really just demonstrates how big of a disconnect there is between them as a police service and us as a community,” Seguya said.
Seguya also said this is why groups like his would rather push for more financial support for community-led initiatives, rather than relying on police to reform themselves. “We do not feel safe, let alone trust folks to be around [them].”
In reference to the comments about Asian people in the video, Seguya said that’s why “intersectionality has to be taken into consideration. Each of those comments overlaps in affecting vulnerable communities across the board.”