British Columbia

Kamloops Mountie criticized for social media post comparing cosmetic face mask to blackface

A Kamloops RCMP officer is being criticized for comments made on his personal Instagram account in regards to blackface and microaggressions.

Former RCMP member raises concerns about systemic racism on the force

Kamloops RCMP Const. Rupert Meinke posted images on his personal Instagram page comparing skin care to racism and microaggressions. (Chad Haggerty/Twitter)

A Kamloops RCMP officer is being criticized for comments made on his personal Instagram account in regards to blackface and microaggressions.

Const. Rupert Meinke posted two images of himself using a charcoal face mask. He captioned the photos with comments about blackface. 

"Is my skin care racist? Micro-aggressions matter," one post said.

"Blackface session. It's supposed to help my looks. I don't think it's working," said the other.

CBC has reached out to Meinke on social media, but has not yet heard back. 

The B.C. RCMP is aware of the posts and is reviewing them.

"The review remains ongoing and will seek to determine further context, as well as a greater picture of the social media profile in question," an RCMP statement said.

Ex-cop calls jokes about blackface 'concerning'

Former RCMP officer Chad Haggerty, who has used his own social media channels to talk about systemic racism he faced while on the force, said that when it comes to comments about blackface and racism of any kind, sensitivity needs to be demonstrated. 

"During a time when racial bias is a topic of great concern for Canadian society, to have a police officer not being sensitive to that issue and to make jokes about blackface is concerning," he told Daybreak Kamloops host Shelley Joyce. 

"We need to step outside of our own personal circumstance, view how these comments in the grand scheme of things are leading to a mistrust of police or a feeling that police aren't sensitive to the needs of the entire community."

Haggerty, who is Métis, said during his 17 years serving with the RCMP, he heard all kinds of racist language from fellow officers.

"I was privy to comments like being told that I was hired to work with Indians and I should go back to the reserve, being called chief and scout," he said. 

"When I tried to raise a complaint about some of the actions, I was cautioned by two supervisors to essentially keep my mouth shut and keep my head down."

Though he doesn't know Meinke personally or professionally, and doesn't know the intent behind the posts, Haggerty said — based on what he's seen — Meinke needs to engage with people that are impacted by his comments, and undergo some educational training from an organization outside of the RCMP.

"There may be things that can be addressed in his behaviour that will allow him to continue to be a police officer and perhaps he generally displays respect for everybody that he deals with," Haggerty said. 

"He just needs to develop the skills and the practices to be consistent in his appearance and in his approach to the public."

With files from Daybreak Kamloops