Matthew Dumas is so yesterday. Manitoba's aboriginal "leadership" has a new poster boy. He's perfect, with all the requisites and more.
He's aboriginal, criminal, stupid, and dead. And connected to a saint.
Tuesday the usual suspects called a joint news conference to announce their collective embrace of twenty-six-year-old Craig McDougall. The youth (their word) was shot to death by Winnipeg city police 45 minutes before sunrise Saturday morning.
Police say he had a knife in his hand and refused repeated demands to put it down. The aboriginal brain trust says he had a cellphone and kept talking to his girlfriend even after being shot. It will be interesting to see which version is true.
But to the the assorted Indian chiefs it doesn't matter. What matters is they have a new cause celebre to attack the police with.
They tried, but couldn't get any traction with car thief Michael Langan who died after being tasered by police. His low-life father kept undermining their attempts to canonize the latest aboriginal criminal to die.
But McDougall...that's another story. He's related to the immortal J.J. Harper---uh, sort of. Okay, his dad's brother is married to Harper's
sister but that's good enough. They can use J.J. Harper's name in every sentence with the expectation that nobody will dare challenge what they say. And yesterday, they went to town.
They admitted that Craig McDougall had a criminal record, but said that was in the past and had nothing to do with his death. Oh, yeah?
Newscasts revealed that McDougall was convicted in 2005 of assault and assault causing bodily harm. That's CAUSING BODILY HARM. This might indicate some issues with anger and problems with authority which might be directly related to what happened on Simcoe Street Saturday morning.
Let's start with -- why he was carrying a knife? Was he eating a steak in the front yard at 5:15 in the morning?
And why, when confronted with four to six police officers (the first accounts said four, the native leaders said six) didn't he do the obvious---drop the knife?
And if it was a cellphone, why didn't he tell whoever he was talking to,"Gotta go now. I'm surrounded by cops." and---you guessed it---drop the phone?
The Matthew Dumas precedent demonstrates how foolish it is to confront armed police with something in your hand. Michael Langan didn't learn the lesson. And neither did Craig McDougall. Do we have to add a new course to the school curriculum--- Drop the Knife 101?
It's still unclear what precipitated the McDougall shooting. The first accounts said there were two 911 calls from the house, which would make the presence of two or three cruiser cars understandable. The native leaders said there was only one call.
Did one of the calls make reference to someone stabbed? That could explain the police officers' urgency to get into the house. But why did the occupants try to keep them out, forcing police to literally tear the front door off its hinges? Was something being flushed down the toilet?
Was there a child near McDougall when he was shot? That could explain why police resorted to gunfire when a taser failed to work. But there's been no official mention of a child.
The Black Rod has read a number of internet posts that suggest something was troubling McDougall in the days immediately before the weekend. Was he despondent over the breakup of his relationship with a girlfriend in Wasagamack? Or was there something deeper?
On Friday, Craig McDougall left this message for his girlfriend. (emphasis ours.)
"yea i juss we can start over nd juss be friend for now. well i'm sorry fro everything that i said nd did i juss ope u can forgive me. i juss wish i was with u rite now but i have to do somthing first. i have to get som help first nd work on som issuse that i have to deal wit myself. so juss be pactiance wit me"
The day before his girlfriend wrote a message to her brother mentioning Craig... (her name reduced to initials to protect her identity).
"oky well he is just waiting for his auntie to get back and see if he gets some money then he is gonna take a bussout here...and yea junior talks with him...junior likes hhim....but he still miss craig and so do i...but dont mean mang...craig is just a friend and he is goin for help and just leave him alone...."
But if the aboriginal leadership is going to try and turn McDougall's death into a clarion call charging the police with racism, they've got a big problem with the rest of her post...
"anyways so what if he looked at tanna fuck she shouldnt be walkin around all slutty...no offence but thats what i think and craig dont like her when she was callin the cell for u that time he said tell that white bitch to stop calling my cell...and i said i knoe eh...."
For that matter, their article of faith that McDougall did nothing wrong when the officers arrived may also be a big problem. The question of whether police ordering him to comply with their commands was heard over the cellphone, was ducked by the leaders when asked at the press conference. But yet another post by the girlfriend, on Sunday, may have answered the question before the Chiefs could find a way to spin the truth:
hey babe....awe babe i wish u would of just listen to them...but then again i knoe u were suffering...i can see it in ur eyes...but i'm praying for you every min of the day love you...so long for now...... (2 days ago)
The aboriginal leaders have already begun banging the racism drum. While inflammatory rhetoric is expected from the native demagogues, they're getting support from the news media.
.... Cue the Black Rod feature: Professional Reporters At Work.
CBC national reporter Marisa Dragani characterized the shooting of J.J. Harper twenty years ago by saying he was "just walking down the street when he was gunned down."
The fact such egregious nonsense made a local, if not national, newscast is indicative of how the news media will slant the story in days to come.
Drunk and belligerent as usual, J.J. Harper was walking home from a bar. To his credit he was minding his own business until he was stopped by a police officer searching for a car thief. Asked for identification, he refused. When he turned to leave, the policeman grabbed his arm, and a scuffle started.
Both men went to the ground, and both became convinced the other intended to kill him. The policeman, on the bottom, got the gun first and shot the bigger man on top of him. Harper wasn't "gunned down".
At the press conference the First Nations leadership collectively demanded that the police accept a "representative" on their investigative team. Police Chief Keith McCaskill personally phoned several of the native leaders to give them details of the McDougall shooting. He said he gave them his personal phone number to call if they had further questions.
HOLD IT RIGHT THERE....
What other groups are getting this personalized police treatment? Since when did the collective become the official representatives of any deceased person? If someone dies at the hands of police it's understood that police representatives will be in contact with the family.
But if they're claiming that the collective of all native organizations has the right to special treatment from police, then they'd all better give it more thought.
First of all, who gave McCaskill the right to call anyone not related to a criminal matter and give them a personal briefing? How do we get on his call list? Or is he playing favorites.
Will he give city council a list of exactly who he intends to call and under what circumstances? A police chief with a secret list of contacts who get insider treatment is a serious issue that should be examined carefully by city council.
Second, if the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, the MKO, the SCO, or any other group declares it has a collective responsibility for any individual or group of individuals that come into contact with police, we're glad to hear it.
Because we will then demand that they take responsibility for the epidemic of car theft that's ravaged Winnipeg, and for the string of gang murders that's soiled the name of the city across Canada.
What are you doing about them, Chiefs?
How do you intend to stop the wave of crimes that's coming from your collective group?
Do you have an investigator working on identifying murderers in native gangs for the police?
Do you have a team working to catch car thieves?
It's your responsibility.
Put up...or shut up.