Indigenous chief says Canadian police beat him over expired licence plate

by Reuters
Saturday, 6 June 2020 22:17 GMT

Supporters of the indigenous Wet'suwet'en Nation's hereditary chiefs march as part of protests against British Columbia's Coastal GasLink pipeline, Montreal, Quebec, Canada February 25, 2020. REUTERS/Andrej Ivanov

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Amid protests about racial inequality, indigenous people express outrage at incidents with Canadian police, including a woman's death

By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, June 6 (Reuters) - An indigenous chief alleged on Saturday that Canadian police beat him in March after an incident involving an expired licence plate on his truck.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), however, say officers used reasonable force after Chief Allan Adam of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation resisted arrest, and laid criminal charges against him.

Adam made the allegations as protests spread around the world following the death in Minneapolis of a black man in police custody on May 25.

Indigenous people this week expressed outrage at two other incidents with Canadian police, including the shooting death of a young woman.

Adam, speaking in Fort McMurray, Alberta, said RCMP approached his parked truck on March 10 as he and his wife prepared to leave a casino in the city.

After police refused to answer why they had pulled up, the couple began to drive away, before an officer ordered them to stop and pulled Adam's wife from the driver's seat, Adam said.

He then intervened. An officer grabbed his arm while a second one knocked him down and punched him, Adam said.

Chief Allan Adam of Athabasca Chipeywan First Nation displays his wounds that he says were caused by Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers of the Wood Buffalo detachment in an incident in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada March 10, 2020. Courtesy of Allan Adam via REUTERS

"We are a minority and nobody speaks up for us," Adam said.

Senior police reviewed in-car video and determined police actions were reasonable and an external investigation not justified, said RCMP Const. Patrick Lambert.

But Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said he was "deeply disturbed" by a photo of Adam's swollen and bloodied face taken after the incident.

"While we cannot comment on a specific case before the courts, we will be following developments of these serious and troubling claims closely."

Adam's lawyer called for police to release their video and suspend one officer.

The chief is due in court on July 2, charged with resisting arrest and assaulting police.

Adam said he waited to publicize the incident because he was busy with pandemic precautions.

(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba Editing by Chris Reese)

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