This statement is undertaken by the Solidarity and Social Justice Committee of TSSU to express ongoing concern for community safety and institutional accountability following the release of the external review summary of the December 11, 2020 events conducted by Andi McKay. We are in solidarity with other members of the SFU community including the SFSS and Black Caucus in deeming this review inadequate and unacceptable since it does not provide a concrete understanding of what led to the violent arrest of a Black SFU alumnus by the RCMP.
On December 14, 2020, the SSJC and the TSSU Executive released a public statement condemning SFU Campus Public Safety (CPS) officers’ and security contractors’ actions in the above incident. Our December letter demanded SFU prioritize the needs of the Black community in calling for a formal and external investigation into SFU CPS policies and practices and for SFU to re-evaluate their relationship with the Burnaby RCMP. On December 13th, 2020, SFU President Joy Johnson announced the establishment of an external review process of the incident and recommended next steps. On March 11th, 2021, exactly three months after the arrest, a summary of the review was released.
As the SFU Black Caucus and the SFSS have stated, the review summary has also left members of the SSJC feeling deeply troubled, with many unanswered questions. We reject the findings of this report, which ignores the role of the Burnaby RCMP in committing violence against an SFU community member on campus and fails to examine how the CPS standard operating procedures could result in such violence. As the Black Caucus has noted, the violent action of the officer involved was callously and dispassionately described as “deploy[ing] his taser to the Alumnus’s head.” We find that the results of this review and the terminology used in the summary frame the violent incident as a “problematic individual” against a law enforcement officer, rather than a systemic issue of racism and racial profiling perpetrated by the RCMP – a colonial and racist institutional set-up – and SFU Burnaby – a colonial and racist institution. We are further concerned that Andi McKay, who was chosen to perform this external investigation, is known by members of our community as someone who has shown commitment to defending the current structure of policing.
We are also troubled by Mckay’s interpretation of CPS policies and procedures as they were applied in this case. As noted by the SFSS, these policies do not state that SFU Safewalk requests are to result in an automatic and immediate removal of a person from campus, as outlined in the report – which, in any case, would be a problematic practice. It is concerning that as the SFU community constantly and tirelessly calls for transparency around SFU CPS procedures and practices, we have received a report that continues to obscure how CPS functions; thus, allowing vague, inaccessible, and inequitable policies to leave space for violence against marginalized communities. Considering how the December 11, 2020 incident unfolded, we question SFU’s efforts to keep especially BIPOC students and SFU community members safe.
We understand that SFU will continue to review current campus security protocols and procedures, which are built on racist policing practices, and that this review will include consultation with the University community. The SSJC demands that BIPOC voices, who carry lifetimes of experiences with policing and colonial “security”, are the center of this consultation process. We further request that a review of how SFU security engages with law enforcement powers such as the RCMP is included, rather than ignored, in understanding how violent acts like the December 11, 2020 incident are perpetrated.
In solidarity with our fellow community members at the SFSS and the SFU Black Caucus, we also call for:
- A change to SFU policies that disproportionately impact racialized and other marginalized students, and for SFU to do meaningful work to have said policy changes with input led by Black, Indigenous, and other equity-deserving groups.
- Specifically, it is demanded that the ongoing issue of racial profiling and discrimination at SFU be addressed immediately, including tangible changes to SFU’s policies and standard operating procedures and policies as directed by recommendations from BIPOC students.
- That SFU amend policies and procedures relating to security escalation and use of force on campus to be more equitable and safe towards racialized and marginalized students. This means centering trauma and violence-informed approaches and radically different approaches to community safety.
- It is further demanded that a fulsome investigation into the use of RCMP be undertaken, while working to divest from the institution of the RCMP and the current campus security structure that relies on the legacy of policing and racial profiling. We demand funding for alternatives to this harmful structure.
- The release of the full Mckay Report with identifiable information redacted for the full extent of this review process.
- Support for the alumnus – a member of our SFU community – in the form of financial reparation, healing supports, and legal representation, upon their request.
Solidarity and Social Justice Committee