Inaugural police board meeting for new chief, mayor ends in disruption, arrest
Public delegations refused to leave, disrupted meeting with tin whistle
Ottawa's new mayor and police chief got an earful from members of the public at their first Ottawa Police Services Board meeting Monday — before it ended abruptly due to disruptions.
At one point, some public delegations refused to leave their seats after their allotted time, demanding the board answer their questions. One broke out an instrument and played movie themes while while board members tried to move on.
A motion to end the meeting was proposed and afterward, members of the public were seen by a CBC reporter clashing with police outside the city hall meeting room. Police say one person was arrested, charged with causing a disturbance and released.
Eric Stubbs from the RCMP in British Columbia was named chief of the Ottawa Police Service in October, despite calls for the appointment to wait until after a new council was sworn in.
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"I look forward to the meeting and seeing how it unfolds," Stubbs said during a scrum with reporters, just before the meeting began at 4 p.m.
Robin Browne, co-lead of advocacy group 613-819 Black Hub, was one of a handful of public delegations who shared points of concern with the board members Monday — ranging from transparency of complaints to police to the board's reluctance to allow virtual delegations to attend its meetings.
At the end of Browne's five-minute time slot — where he criticized the abrupt appointment of Stubbs and raised concerns over the resignation of Peter Sloly, the city's first Black police chief — he refused to leave his seat until the board answered four questions:
- Will the board agree to immediately start holding hybrid meetings that allow virtual delegations?
- Will the city conduct a line by line financial audit of all city services, including the Ottawa police?
- Will the board freeze the Ottawa police budget until that financial audit is complete?
- Will the board commission an independent, human rights-based review of the police force?
"I'm not leaving this chair until you answer my questions," said Browne multiple times from the delegation desk.
"I'm sorry but at this point in time, the delegation period of our meeting is over," said interim board chair Suzanne Valiquet, asking Browne to leave again.
WATCH | Police board chair, member of the public spar during meeting:
Valiquet called a short break. Upon resuming, Browne continued to refuse to leave while another delegation, Bailey Gauthier, began playing the Titanic theme song and tunes from The Lord of the Rings on a tin whistle.
"You're not getting anywhere by doing that," Valiquet addressed the people still seated in front of them.
The board approved the appointment and re-appointment of special constables at Carleton University, the RCMP and the Ottawa Police Service — before a member asked for the meeting to be adjourned.
Heated clash between police and public
After the meeting adjourned, some members of the public were seen clashing with police officers in the hallway.
In videos taken by CBC reporters, officers are seen handcuffing one individual who repeatedly yells "give me space."
An officer is seen pushing another person away when they try to get past him. That person then falls to the ground.
Shortly after, another officer raises his voice and tells another member of the public to "relax" multiple times.
"You relax, you piece of s---," the person responds.
"Everyone's gone now. It's time to leave," the officer said.
CBC has contacted Ottawa police to ask for more details about their interactions with the public following the police board meeting and is waiting to hear back.
In a tweet Monday night, police said "several individuals became combative, verbally abusive to members of the public and refused to leave the premises."
One person was charged with causing a disturbance and was released on conditions not to visit Ottawa city hall, police said.
When asked for his reaction to what unfolded during and after the board meeting, Sutcliffe said the situation speaks for itself.
"I understand and respect their point of view. It's unfortunate that we weren't able to complete the meeting," said Sutcliffe to reporters in the hallway.
"We'll get to that next time."
The next board meeting is scheduled for Dec. 19.
With files from Michelle Allan and Rachelle Elsiufi