I’ve followed the #rinelleharper assault case with great interest.
That interest peaked yesterday when a Caroline Barghout tweet left me scratching my head.
A “protest” organized by “Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women,” was set for November 12, 2014 at 4:30 p.m. at Portage & Main.
I wondered what the protestors were going to protest.
Were they going to protest Government inaction in the face of calls for a National Inquiry?
Were they going to protest the Police for alleged racialized investigative indifference?
Unfortunately, we’ll never know.
It seems the organizers neglected one crucial aspect of any well planned protest. They neglected to include the victim’s family.
It wasn’t long after the news of the cancelled rally hit social media that the Winnipeg Police Service announced they were holding a press conference to break news of arrests in the case.
The announcement had one Twitter follower wondering;
“Instead of a protest, I wonder if there will be a rally to encourage #RinelleHarper in her recovery and to thank the WPS for great work/arrest?”
Interesting question I thought.
“I hope people realize how hard we work these cases,” one officer said. “We get tired of people thinking we don’t give a shit when girls like this get killed or assaulted.”
I feel his pain.
I was often disgusted by accusations of investigative indifference when it came to crimes committed against Aboriginal people. Not only did the suggestions have no basis in reality, they were offensive to those of us who sacrificed much in our personal lives to resolve these crimes.
Many of the activists who fuel the racial divide are vocal proponents for a National inquiry into the Missing & Murdered Women issue.
The same people who tried to make Tina Fontaine a poster girl to justify their cause when her manner of death is only represented in 8% of the killings of Aboriginal women.
The fact is, 90% of the murders of Aboriginal women in this Country are caused as a direct result of domestic or familial violence. It only follows, most of these women knew their killers.
The problem is the facts don’t mesh well with the manufactured script.
That script suggests missing and murdered Aboriginal women are disappearing or being killed because of some mysterious happenings or inexplicable phenomena.
Why bother letting the facts get in the way of a good protest.
The facts of the Rinelle Harper case didn’t seem to get in the way of the activists who had their placards ready and their bull horns tuned to launch a protest in her name.
I’m sorry, Rinelle Harper and Tina Fontaine are not fair representations of the plight of the majority of victimized Aboriginal women. Random acts of violence is the exception while domestic and familial violence continues to be the rule.
The public breathes a collective sigh of relief now that the evil men behind the crime can no longer secret themselves under the comforting cloak of anonymity.
I find it interesting how their identity only proves to complicate the case.
The perpetrators are young Aboriginal men.
I suspect the police investigation will be thorough with little left to chance. The investigation, interrogation and forensic analysis will surely afford high quality irrefutable evidence for the prosecution.
The public outcry for meaningful consequences for the perpetrators continues to rage on social media.
If convicted, both offenders may be the benefactors of a reduced sentenced based on the Gladue principle. Gladue is a sentencing principle that recognizes the plight of Aboriginal people and the many issues they face in Canadian society and criminal justice.
Issues like racism, discrimination and over-representation in crime, gangs, prison and child welfare systems. Social issues like physical or sexual abuse, child welfare removal, substance abuse, FASD, health and developmental issues and the effects of residential schools.
How ironic a principle enacted to benefit Aboriginal offenders might ultimately be used to undermine justice for a sixteen (16) year old Aboriginal girl who was violated in a profoundly abhorrent way.
The painful irony didn’t escape the attention of Winnipeg Sun columnist Tom Brodbeck.
Make no mistake, offenders like this deserve to feel the full force and effect of the law.
Time will tell.
On the up side, the Rinelle Harper case once again proved the police are not the enemy.
The officers working the case showed us what the thin blue line is truly all about. It’s about good vs evil and the men and women who dedicate themselves to keep these powerful forces apart.
#MMIW protest organizers would be well served to start applying a modicum of critical thinking before they try to anoint their next victim to support their cause.
Not every case of Aboriginal victimization demands a public protest.
Sometimes bad people do bad things.
It’s called crime.
Maybe it’s time for the activists to take a step back, recalibrate and let the police do their job.
Under section 42 (2) (o) of the Youth Criminal Justice Act the maximum penalty for Attempt Murder and / or Aggravated Sexual Assault is three (3) years of custody and supervision.
In October, 2014, a seventeen (17) year old-young offender in Edmonton received an adult sentence of nine (9) years incarceration after pleading guilty to aggravated sexual assault and robbery.
The victim was a sixty-two (62) year old woman who suffered a savage attack that caused horrific physical and emotional trauma.