Windsor police officer under internal review after Arby's incident
Two Arby's employees took a knee, a gesture used to protest police brutality against Black communities
Windsor police are conducting an internal review after an officer refused his food at a local Arby's restaurant when he saw employees take a knee — a sign of protest against police brutality and racism toward the Black community.
When the on-duty officer noticed the employees performing the gesture, he cancelled his order, requested a refund and took a photo before leaving, according to Windsor police.
The on-duty officer then sent the photo to an off-duty officer who posted the picture to his personal social media account with inaccurate details of the incident that took place on Friday.
In the post, the off-duty officer said that Arby's denied his colleague food, and also implied that the restaurant shouldn't count on him responding to a service call at that location, if needed.
In a statement on Monday, Windsor police said the off-duty officer is under an internal review and that no investigation has been launched into the Arby's restaurant or its employees.
Additionally, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said on Monday that if he were in the officer's position, he would have also handed back the food out of "concern."
Dilkens added that he would like to hear the perspective of the employees in order to find out "what they think we could do better" to improve the situation and "make them feel comfortable not to have to take a knee."
Photo violates the law, expert says
According to Brenda McPhail, director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association's privacy, technology and surveillance project, the photo violates the law and "should never have been taken" by the on-duty officer.
"This situation was not a situation where it was going to be used for purposes of law enforcement, nor was it necessary for lawfully authorized activity, so it shouldn't have happened," McPhail said, adding that this is made clear under Ontario's Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
She added that this particular scenario is complicated because the person who actually posted the photo was an off-duty officer.
The public posting of the incident, McPhail said, could also put the lives of the Arby's employees at risk, adding that it may also have a "chilling effect" on others wanting to exercise their rights in front of an officer.
In response to the incident, Windsor police said they are in support of these sorts of "lawful and peaceful demonstrations" and don't condone the social media post of the off-duty officer.
"The Windsor Police Service did not authorize nor do we support the message posted by the off-duty officer," reads an excerpt from Monday's statement. "We want to re-assure the community that the safety of everyone is paramount and our officers will always respond to all calls for service."
Windsor police added that the incident "compels constructive discourse rather than animosity" and noted that the force has reached out to all those involved "with an invitation for dialogue."
With files from Sameer Chhabra and Jason Viau