Canadian police chief Scott Gilbert kneeled before Black Lives Matter activists clambering on the city war memorial in Peterborough, Ontario, after they asked officers to attend their demonstration and either lie down or “take a knee”.
The June 2nd march, organised by black, transfeminine non-binary drag queen Said Jiddawy, was ostensibly in aid of George Floyd, who died while being detained by a white police officer — since charged with third-degree murder and negligent manslaughter — in the United States.
“The Peterborough Police Service wishes to reaffirm its commitment to bias free policing and the right for people to gather in peaceful protest,” the force wheedled in an official Statement of Solidarity ahead of the demonstration, despite its dubious legality in the midst of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.
“In a world where systematic racism has been embedded by a history of colonization, we understand that we must continuously reaffirm this commitment which is reflected in our core values,” the statement added.
Police Chief Scott Gilbert had initially indicated that officers would not comply with a request for an officer or officers to come out of the police station and “lie down” for the protesters, although he suggested he would encourage police present at the demonstration to “take a knee”.
In the end he and a small entourage did personally attend the demonstration when it reached Confederation Square, kneeling to the activists trampling the Peterborough Citizens’ War Memorial and the surrounding area.
The activists had reportedly been quoting lyrics from the song ‘F*** the Police’ by NWA at their event.
On behalf of @Chief_SGilbert and all members of our Service we offer the following statement of solidarity. We continue to work with community partners to achieve safety, inclusion and wellbeing for all @CityPtbo @SelwynTownship #CavanMonaghan https://t.co/6Pa47rGcCE -LG pic.twitter.com/zTF4bizIc7
— Peterborough Police (@PtboPolice) June 2, 2020
“For the nine minutes I was kneeling on the concrete on a surgically reconstructed knee seemed like an eternity [sic],” a smiling Chief Gilbert boasted to reporters later.
“But at the same time I was thinking what went through [George Floyd’s] mind while that officer was kneeling on his neck [in Minneapolis],” he added.
The largely white, female crowd of “several hundred” activists at the Black Lives Matter demonstration were told by BIOPC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) speakers that “No black person should feel obligated to go through the emotional exhaustion of explaining and oftentimes simplifying the ungraspable concepts of racism to you” and that they must take an active role in policing themselves to be good allies.
Local health officer Dr Rosana Salvaterra appeared to co-sign the demonstration, praising activists for wearing masks and claiming they obeyed social distancing protocols — although footage of the event strongly suggests that is not strictly accurate.