Saskatoon

No hate speech charges laid in Colten Boushie case

RCMP haven't laid any hate speech charges related to statements made following the death of Colten Boushie, a decision which has left some experts shaking their heads.

'It sends a message to Indigenous people': Indigenous studies professor

An Indigenous studies professor said no hate speech charges related to online posts following Colten Boushie's death fits with the perception of the way RCMP is dealing with the case. (Facebook)

RCMP haven't laid any hate speech charges related to statements made following the death of Colten Boushie, a decision which has left some experts shaking their heads.

"It would probably be a good idea for the RCMP to send a message out that hate and killing of Indigenous people is not tolerated, and that advocating the killing of Indigenous people is actually a hate crime," said University of Saskatchewan Indigenous studies professor Robert Innes.

"This fits with the perception of the way the RCMP is dealing with this case."

​Boushie was fatally shot in a farmyard near Biggar last August. The landowner, Gerald Stanley, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of second-degree murder in connection with the death.

Gerald Stanley has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in connection with Colten Boushie's death. (CBC)

Threats posted online

The Red Pheasant Cree Nation teenager's death was followed by a torrent of online hatred against Boushie, his friends and Indigenous people in general.

"Good for the punk," wrote one.

"He should have shot all five and (been) given a medal," wrote another.

A rural councillor and others posted that the only mistake was "leaving witnesses."

Dozens of people who were contributing to Stanley's defence fund online made similar comments.

Premier Brad Wall implored people to stop posting such hatred.

Wall and RCMP warned such posts could have legal consequences.

No charges laid

More than six months later, RCMP have told CBC News that there have been no hate speech charges resulting from the posts. They wouldn't give reasons and declined an interview request.

Innes said RCMP should be forced to explain. He said the justice system appears biased against the Boushie family and Indigenous people.

People, included Colten Boushie's mother Debbie Baptiste (second from right), have rallied for justice in Boushie's case. (Canadian Press)

The first sign was the RCMP news release when Boushie was killed, Innes said. RCMP said Boushie had been killed, but stated some of the people who were involved in the incident were suspected of criminal behaviour.

Innes and others say that amounts to blaming the victim. He noted that charges haven't been laid against the other people present that day.

The next sign was the difficulties with the chain of custody around the vehicle involved – a key piece of evidence.

Another sign was the decision by a judge in North Battleford to grant Stanley bail despite the seriousness of the alleged offense.

"Their actions have all been questionable. This sends a message to Indigenous people," Innes said.

North Battleford lawyer Eleanore Sunchild said she can't believe the RCMP's lack of action.

Sunchild says many of the Facebook posts met the legal test for hate speech.

"It crossed the line because it's specifically targeting a group of people. And it's inciting hatred toward a group of people. So that's distinguishable (from) someone being ignorant and racist," Sunchild said.

Stanley is due in court in early April. No trial date has been set.

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