2 women charged with uttering threats over 'shoot a Indian' posts
Remarks follow weekend spate of vandalism in Flin Flon, Man.
Two women have been arrested and charged with uttering threats after a spate of vandalism in northern Manitoba led to "hateful and threatening language" online, according to the RCMP.
Investigators say a 32-year-old from Flin Flon, Man., and a 25-year-old from the nearby village of Denare Beach, Sask., face charges of uttering threats and public incitement of hatred.
"People need to be held accountable and they have to be responsible for the online content they put out there," said spokesperson Sgt. Paul Manaigre.
He said the investigation is still active and charges are pending against a third person.
The arrests stem from multiple acts of vandalism to vehicles and property throughout Flin Flon, a city 630 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, on Sunday.
Manaigre said what started as venting about the vandalism on a local Facebook page escalated quickly.
"The messaging then turned from frustration to very hateful language that the public had access to," he said. "Everyone began to see these complaints and comments and began to make calls to the RCMP."
He said the investigation started immediately and led to the charges.
The charge of public incitement of hatred required approval by the provincial Crown attorney's office.
"It's applicable in this situation and we felt it necessary," said Manaigre. "We have to send a strong message that this behaviour on social media can't be tolerated."
Police aren't releasing the women's names until the charges are formally entered in court.
However, the circumstances appear to match remarks made by local women Destine Spiller and Raycine Chaisson.
Upon finding her car spray-painted, Spiller posted on Facebook she would "kill some Indians when I get home." She also proposed a "shoot a Indian day."
Chaisson responded, suggesting a "24 hour purge."
Screenshots of the posts — and responses — were shared hundreds of times on Facebook, with many posting opposition to the comments.
Spiller, who has since apologized, lost her job because of the remarks.
The Urban Trendz Hair Studio in Flin Flon — referring to both its "zero-tolerance" for racism and the effect of unspecified "statements" on the community — said on Facebook it had fired the person responsible. Sources told CBC News that person was Spiller.
Spiller apologized on Sunday for acting out in anger.
"I wasn't thinking when I said it," she wrote on Facebook. "I was mad about my brand new car being trash for no reason."
Manitoba's Grand Chief Arlen Dumas applauded the arrests .
"I'm actually very pleased," he said. "I think that people need to be made aware of the gravity of the issues and that people need to be held accountable for statements they make."
He said the severity of the comments warranted immediate action because violence was advocated.
Dumas said threats of violence and actual violence are all too real for Indigenous people.
Threatening messages, photos
Indigenous leaders called on Saskatchewan's RCMP to follow suit.
"This is what we expect the RCMP to do more of," Bobby Cameron, chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), said a statement.
"This life threatening attitude must be stopped and those guilty of it must be charged for a hate crime and it must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We will no longer tolerate these blatant acts and statements of racism in Canada."
The group called on Saskatchewan's RCMP to charge people making online threats against First Nations people, particularly following the Gerald Stanley verdict.
In February, a Saskatchewan jury found Stanley not guilty in the 2016 shooting death of First Nations man, Colten Boushie.
The verdict spurred rallies and cries of racism and injustice across the country.
FSIN said concerned people sent in a number of racist and threatening messages and photos, which it passed on to the RCMP.
The group says no charged have been laid.
CBC News has reached out for comment to Saskatchewan RCMP.