Saskatoon

Woman who shot FreshCo arrest video says incident was important to record

Jade Acikahte watched the entire arrest unfold, saying the woman complied with the security guard fully before she was arrested.

Eyewitness says woman emptied purse for security guard before incident took place

A man who identified himself as a security guard sits on top of an Indigenous woman as he tries to force handcuffs on her in the parking lot of a grocery store in Saskatoon on Wednesday. (Jade Acikahte/Facebook)

The woman who shot a video of a violent arrest by a private security guard at a Saskatoon FreshCo. earlier this week says she was frozen in fear as she watched the incident unfold before her.

Now, after taking some time to reflect and steady herself, she says she's glad she recorded the video, but wishes she had stepped in.

Jade Acikahte watched the entire arrest unfold, saying the Indigenous woman complied with the security guard fully before she was arrested. Acikahte says the security guard stopped the woman as she was leaving the store on 33rd Street West in the city's Mayfair Neighbourhood, and said he suspected her of theft.

She says that when asked, the woman followed instructions from the man fully, emptying the contents of her purse as requested. However, when that didn't satisfy the guard, the man told the woman to follow him back to the store, at which time she said she didn't want to.

"As she was putting her stuff back in her purse, she said 'No, I don't want to go with you. I'm not going with you,'" Acikahte said. 

The guard was blocking the woman's path, according to Acikahte, when the woman tried to walk away. Acikahte said the security guard grabbed the woman by her wrist and tried to force her into handcuffs. When she fought back, the man threw her to the ground. 

"With her hands still behind her back, so she wasn't able to brace for that fall," she said, and at that point, that's when she took out her phone and started to record. 

The incident has spurred calls for the security guard in the video to be fired and has already resulted in the termination of the contract between the FreshCo. store and the security firm that employs him. The woman, a 30-year-old, has been charged with theft under $5,000 and assault as a result of the incident.

Calls for guard to be fired, charged

The security guard has not been charged, but many — including Indigenous leaders with the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and the Saskatoon Tribal Council — want that to change. They also want all charges against the woman dropped.

As for Acikahte, she says she had never seen anything like the arrest before, noting she agrees the guard should be fired and charged.

"I felt really confused and scared for her," she said. "All I know is that I had to record."

A photo of Jade Acikahte, an Indigenous woman in Saskatoon who recorded a violent arrest in a Saskatoon parking lot by a private security guard on April 14,2021. (Supplied by Jade Acikahte )

The company that employs the guard, Emergency Security Management Solutions, has told CBC News previously that every company has its policies and procedures around their employees and says they will be followed.

Acikahte says the recording has been shared with police, as she does not feel the guard's behaviour was appropriate. It's also circulated widely online, with the original post being shared almost 2,000 times. 

WATCH | Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations calls for security guard to be fired following violent arrest at Saskatoon store: 

GRAPHIC WARNING: Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations calls for security guard to be fired following violent arrest at Saskatoon store

Saskatchewan

1 month ago
1:16
The chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations says he is angered after seeing the violent arrest of an Indigenous woman by a security guard in Saskatoon and is now calling for the security guard to be fired. 1:16

Acikahte, who saw photos of the arrests aftermath, says the woman in the video suffered numerous injuries as a result.
 
"It was literally her entire body," she said. Acikahte, who is also Indigenous, says the fact the woman was charged as a result of the incident is "absolutely outrageous." 

"Just witnessing it from beginning to end, the force he used at the very beginning was just not necessary," she said. "I feel like she acted out of self-defence. Completely."

However, Acikahte says while the video was shocking, it wasn't surprising, as it's a sign of a larger problem.

"This is normal life for Indigenous people. I really hope that this situation can be an example and it's rectified in a positive way," she said. "It's upsetting. It's really, really upsetting to watch this unfold." 

Mayor addresses racism, profiling

Saskatoon's Mayor Charlie Clark has also publicly stated the video has left him feeling angry, and this type of violence "needs to stop.

"We can't ignore as a community that not everyone would have been treated this way. Our city has been coming to terms with the reality of our history and ongoing impacts of violence against women, and violence against Indigenous women," said Clark in the statement. 

"We have also been coming face to face with the reality that systemic racism, and profiling of people in stores and institutions in our community, carries on in large and small ways," he said.

"The video of this arrest highlighted this. I hear too often from people who are Indigenous, Black, and people of colour that they regularly face discrimination, profiling and violence."

In the statement, Clark says this type of violence has a real impact on a person's life and those who do not experience need to "listen and hear directly from people who do."

"We have work to do to address the training and accountability of security guards, the racial profiling of people in stores and institutions, to address the hard truths of the impacts of a colonial relationship, and to build a way forward where we see each other as relatives and where everyone has opportunity here."

Clark says he's committed to the work necessary to bring an end to this type of injustice and has already had communication with Saskatoon Tribal Chief Mark Arcand on steps forward.

"I will keep working with leaders throughout the community towards these goals," he said in the statement. "We can only be successful by doing it together as a community."

The woman has been offered support by both the FSIN and the STC, and Acikahte says she too will do all she can to help. She's spoken to the woman about why she didn't get involved, as she was afraid of charges, and for her safety and said the conversation was important. 

"I apologized profusely for not stepping in for not being more help," she said. "She was not upset with me. She was not angry with any of us bystanders, she was glad it was recorded."

On Friday morning, the Saskatoon Police Service confirmed its investigation into the matter is ongoing, but did not have any updates.

"As with any call for service, we respond with the information we have at the time," the statement said. "I can add that if we need to seek an opinion from the Crown following the investigation, we will."

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