By Shari Narine
A mother whose adult daughter was the victim of an alleged attempted abduction in northeast Edmonton says it took a Facebook post to get the Edmonton Police Service to respond.
Not so, says EPS, although a 37-year-old male suspect wasn’t taken into custody until two days after the incident and a day after the Facebook post. EPS says that was the length of time it took to complete the investigation.
On Facebook, Roxanne Warrior said it was “white privilege at its finest” that resulted in the man not being arrested at the time of the incident and her daughter Rayna Warrior-Jackson’s allegations not being taken seriously.
“The police were white, (the suspect) was white and they took his word before they even listened to (my daughter),” said Warrior, who was not present when the incident unfolded in the late afternoon of June 19.
She said because her daughter is a First Nations woman, stands five-foot six inches and weighs only 98 pounds, many people are quick to jump to the conclusion that she is a drug addict.
Warrior posted on Facebook, “Not even sure what the hell to do. Some piece of trash tried to abduct my daughter and when the police finally appeared they did 'F'all.”
The posting blew up on social media, with over one thousand views.
At approximately 5:45 p.m. EPS responded to the report of an attempted abduction in the area of 119 Street and 137 Avenue. The male suspect allegedly followed Warrior-Jackson, 26, grabbed her and attempted to pull her to his truck. She broke loose and fled. The male suspect then returned to his vehicle and continued to follow her. Warrior said it took the police 20 minutes to show-up.
“Upon police arrival, officers spoke with the female complainant and the male suspect. The female complainant was reportedly in shock and requested to leave the area. Officers then transported her to a safe place at her request,” said EPS spokesperson Carolin Maran in an email statement to Windspeaker.com
Maran said the investigation remained open and resulted in the male suspect being taken into custody on June 21.
Warrior said EPS believed the man, who said he was following Warrior-Jackson because she was drunk and stealing from the store she works at.
“This guy could very well be doing this to other people,” said Warrior, who is still emotional about how close her daughter came to being abducted. “Had he gotten closer, he could just have thrown her into a vehicle. But she’s small and she’s squirmy and she’s fast.”
Both Warrior and her daughter would like to see EPS officers receive cultural sensitivity and cultural awareness training “so they take people seriously when something’s going on.” Warrior even wonders about the 911 call that was placed and the long response time, noting that the operator would have known Warrior-Jackson was Indigenous because of her hyphenated surname.
“The EPS is currently reviewing the officer response to this incident and will determine if officers could have done things differently or if further training/education of our members is warranted,” said the statement.
Currently fair and impartial policing and bias awareness programs are in place at EPS, which includes cultural safety and sensitivity training and training specific to Indigenous relations.
“All EPS officers receive this training, including the members who responded to this incident,” said Maran.
Warrior’s Facebook posting received heated reactions from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Comments ranged from “police are so unreliable … unless she’s white,” to “get off your racist bulls-t!!!” and tirades against immigrants and Muslims.
The response didn’t surprise Warrior, a member of the Piikani Nation, who grew up off-reserve in southern Alberta, where racist comments were almost a daily occurrence, she said.
Warrior said she was pelted with rocks at school and was even accused of being on social assistance although her mother was a nurse at the local hospital.
“I almost expect it, but in this day and age I would hope it didn’t exist. But with what happened here, you almost come to expect it,” she said, noting that Aboriginal people are constantly “slammed” on social media.
“It’s hurtful. But I’m not surprised. You just have to pray to Creator to be strong and let the stuff go. Those people, that’s their burden to carry, that they carry that much hate,” she said.
Warrior, who works with Indigenous Services Canada, says she is grateful for the support on social media.