Edmonton rally decries police response to attack of Black teen, calls for apology
About 200 people rallied outside police headquarters Saturday
Around 200 people rallied outside the Edmonton Police Service headquarters on Saturday, as speakers criticized the police handling of a schoolyard assault that sent a Black teen to hospital.
The 14-year-old student at Rosslyn School was swarmed and attacked by seven boys as he left school on April 16. In a widely circulated video of the incident a boy can be heard calling him the N-word and Pazo says the attackers made monkey sounds at him.
The family says the school board offered Pazo, who CBC News is only identifying by his first name, little support in the direct aftermath of the assault and when police first took his statement an officer pressed him on whether he started a fight.
Speakers at Saturday's rally said Chief Dale McFee downplayed the incident when he said the violent assault started as a "consensual schoolyard fight."
"It was a brutal assault that took place as a boy was trying to come home from school," Haruun Ali told the crowd. "Edmonton police has to retract that and they have to apologize to Pazo and Pazo's mother and his family."
At a news conference Thurday, McFee said some of the attackers come from racialized communities and had received threats. He said the incident was not a hate crime, calling out social media posts he said had inflamed the situation.
"We're not here to be aggressive or volatile," said rally organizer Tiera Williams.
"We're just here to ask for accountability and to actually hear your community when we're upset and not come out and downplay it as something else and basically tell us to calm down. That's very disrespectful to racialized people, to tell them how to react to racism."
Along with calls for justice for Pazo, organizers said the rally stood in solidarity with the Muslim community after a string of recent hate-motivated attacks in the city. Pazo and his family did not attend.
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.
With files from Michelle Bellfontaine and Thandiwe Konguavi