Ottawa police investigating video of members saying ‘white man’s day is done’

The Ottawa Police Service (OPS) is conducting an investigation after a video circulating online this week shows uniformed members of its force having a racist conversation. 

The video is a partial recording from a security camera at a person’s home and was originally posted on social media. It shows three police officers standing in a garage, seemingly unaware that their conversation was being recorded.

CBC News has seen the video but has decided not to publish it due to issues around identification of the parties involved.

At the beginning of the video, an officer says, “Our days are done. White man’s day is done.” 

The other officers reply, “you’re probably right.” Another says, “you’re onto something.” 

“The population of North America, we’re the minority I think even at this point,” one officer goes on to say.

“You go to Toronto and every couple you see walking by is a mixed couple. You don’t see white and white people together. It’s white [and] Asian, white [and] East Indian,” he said.

“I told my son he can find a Chinese, Asian girlfriend,” he continued. “If he wants to stay in the mix, get your foot in the door.”

OPS investigating

The video has since been shared widely on social media since it was posted.

In an email statement, an OPS spokesperson said the service is aware of the video and there is “an active professional standards unit investigation regarding it.”

“Regardless of the intent, the comments expressed in the video have negatively impacted community members and service members. The comments are offensive and they have further eroded public trust as well as internal morale.” 

The police statement goes on to say “such statements are not consistent with the values of the Ottawa Police Service and they have no place in the policing profession.”

‘Racist ideas’ widespread within police: prof

“I think these are very troubling racist ideas that we are seeing behind the conversation,” said Xiaobei Chen, a sociology professor at Carleton University.

Chen said the conversation in the video is a prime example of the “enduring notion of white ownership of this nation,” despite that North America first belonged to Indigenous people and that it was “built on the back of free labour, of Blacks under cruel conditions, under slavery and also exploitation of Chinese labour.”

Example of exploitation of Asian women: prof

Chen said the conversation is also problematic because it suggests using Asian women as the solution to the “disappointment that they’re feeling” — and is an example of the long-standing sexual exploitation of Asian women. 

“What’s especially problematic about this [conversation] is it’s benign. What it tells us is that these conversations are probably happening a lot of times, but we just don’t see it,” Chen said.

Chen said she hopes OPS use this video as a stepping stone to address “nationalist notions and racism and colonialism within the police force.”

“We need to be very careful about not reducing this to individual police officers,” added Chen.

Last year Ottawa police released an equity, diversity and inclusion plan aimed at boosting diversity and stamping out discrimination within its ranks.

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