"Walking while Aboriginal" First Nations man says he was racially profiled, roughed up by Regina Police
Simon Ash-Moccasin says he was just wanted to go home. It was Wednesday night last week; he'd been out earlier with friends and was walking home through downtown Regina. A police cruiser drove by, slowing to take a closer look. Then a second cruiser slowly drove by. Then two more appeared, only these ones stopped. And that's when the evening turned ugly.
"I was just walking down the street, minding my own business, not interfering with anybody," says Simon Ash-Moccasin, who is a member of the Saulteaux First Nation, which is also known as the Little Jack / Fish Lake Reserve. "I said to the officer 'I know my rights, and I really don't need to say anything, and I tried to keep walking on."
The officer got out of his cruiser and told Ash-Moccasin he needed to speak to him. When he asked why, the officer said he "fit a description."
Ash-Moccasin was wearing a bright green Army jacket, and he asked the officer to describe the suspect they were looking for, but the officer wouldn't say anything else. All he would say was a television had been stolen.
Ash-Moccasin suspected he was being racially profiled. He has worked with Regina Police in the past at their training college, helping recruits in various arrest scenarios. He knows police procedures, and says these officers weren't following any of them.
"The second officer came at me right away, forcing his face up against a concrete wall. They reefed his arms back and put him in handcuffs. But he hadn't been arrested; at least, Ash-Moccasin didn't think he had. No one read him his rights. Neither officer said anything.
"I said what the heck are you doing?! I know my rights, and you can't be doing this."
One officer left to look for the television, while the other roughly threw him into the back of the police cruiser.
"He was just roughing me up. And my legs were dangling outside of the car, so he grabbed my legs straight up. I just felt like a piece of meat. I didn't feel human. He was just being rough, abrasive and mean."
He gave the officers his name and identification, which they checked in the other cruiser. Ash-Moccasin suspects they were hoping to find out he had a warrant for his arrest to justify the rough behaviour. But he had none.
"All of a sudden the first officer opened the door and said 'You're free to go.' I said 'What? After all that just happened here, I'm free to go?' And I said I need to get your names and badge number because I need to report this."
They gave them to him, but the supervisor he spoke to at the police station threw him out when he showed up to make a complaint.
He's since taken the issue to the Public complaints Commission in Regina.
"I know all this stuff is going on down south [in the United States], and there's something called 'Walking while Black.' Up here, there's something called 'Walking while Aboriginal.' I felt that I was racially profiled."
The Regina Police would not comment on Ash-Moccasin's complaint while it is being handled by the Public Complaints Commission.