Racist student video reinvestigated, following complaints original sanctions were inadequate
B.C. anti-racism group says penalties given student weren't meaningful
Suzanne Daley says her 14-year-old mixed-race daughter is still suffering, 18 months after a racist video made by a Lord Byng Secondary School student was circulated at her school.
The Vancouver Police Board is taking a fresh look at how the video incident was handled by police, in the wake of ongoing complaints that no charges were recommended and at least two students felt so unsafe they changed schools.
Markiel Simpson, with the B.C. Community Alliance, saw the video in which a young man, using racial slurs, speaks into the camera, identifying himself and his hatred for Black people.
"I just want to line them all up and just chuck an explosive in there and go ka-boom!"
"We felt an immediate threat. A death threat," said Daley.
Student suspended and sent to different school
The student who made the video was ultimately suspended by the school board for five days and sent to a different school. He was also required to do a series of police-imposed sanctions, including weekly meeting and planning reparations to the affected community, as well as making an apology and getting counselling.
But the B.C. Community Alliance filed a complaint in April, saying the sanctions were not meaningful.
The alliance is a collection of B.C. youth and anti-racism groups, formed last year specifically to help families deal with the school incident, according to its Facebook page. It garnered 1,000 signatures calling for action and has since launched a website dedicated to addressing structural inequities created by racism.
In response to its complaint, the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner demanded answers from the VPD as to why criminal charges were not recommended.
On Thursday, VPD Supt. Michelle Davey presented a report to the police board to give further details about how the 15-year-old who posted the video was dealt with.
"The School Liaison Officer determined that, in this case, it was not appropriate to forward charges to Crown Counsel. Instead, sanctions were imposed ... The student was transferred to another school and the matter was concluded."
Mother hopes reinvestigation will lead to change
The Vancouver Police Board listened and expressed "concern," then referred the matter to a committee to reinvestigate and speak to parents and students, said Simpson.
"The board wanted to take a further look at it," he said, adding he hopes the decision makes students feel like they matter.
Daley says she has no interest in the VPD reopening the investigation or with the young man who was involved being charged. She wants to see new protocols in place by the Vancouver School Board to deal with such incidents.
She says they are all too common.
She says she hopes the review and her efforts to work with the Vancouver School Board result in changes in how the school board, police and oversight authorities deal with racist incidents in school to create protections for victims, like her mixed-race daughter and two other Black students at Lord Byng.
Her daughter left Lord Byng after the young man who made the video was initially welcomed back to the school.
At first, Daley says, the teen who posted the video was given a three-day suspension, which was later extended to five days, after parent outcry. He was transferred to a different school for one semester. But when parents and advocates learned the now Grade 11 student was supposed to return to Lord Byng after the semester, they petitioned and he did not return, she says.
'She's scared of the police now'
Meanwhile the students who felt attacked still suffer.
"My child still has anxiety. Last year she completely isolated herself from friends. She doesn't trust the adults in charge of her education. She's scared of the police now," said Daley.
She has reached out to get her child help, and in that process, learned that the victim services arm that deals with crime victims had no problem defining what had happened and put it in writing.
"My daughter was deemed the victim of a hate crime by the Vancouver Police Victim Services in September of 2019," she said.
Daley says she is speaking out to protect other children who will face situations like this.
She says school and policing officials failed her daughter and she needs things to change now for other young Black students. She believes the incident was mishandled from the start.
Daley says that school authorities refused to meet with her, hold an assembly to call out racism or set up a meeting between the victims and the video-maker, so she reached out to family friends of the youth and organized a meeting in the fall between her child and the young man involved.
Daley believes that helped her daughter feel less afraid. While she appreciates that this was able to happen, she says mediating a meeting should have been done by school officials and not have taken a year.
Her daughter was a Grade 8 student who had just turned 13 when she saw the threatening video. Daley says as an adult when she first saw it, she was shaken.
"I went into shock. I sank at the front door and cried for an hour."
Since the incident, the Vancouver School Board said in a statement that students have formed a diversity and inclusivity committee and have held several school assemblies.