Police chiefs denounce video on Sloly

Video mocks Peter Sloly about his stance on systemic racism in the force

Natalia Goodwin ·

 CBC News 

September 21, 2020

Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly is being mocked in a video circulating online for his recent stances on systemic racism within policing. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

A video depicting the chief of the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) as Adolf Hitler is being condemned by those both inside and outside the province’s police community.

The video, which has circulated on Twitter, is a manipulated version of a scene from the 2004 German-language film Downfall, which tells the story of Hitler’s final days.

The scene shows Hitler ranting to a gathering of Nazi officers, but the subtitles have been replaced so that it appears he is actually speaking the words of Chief Peter Sloly, with the other officers meant to be members of Ottawa’s police force. 

The video mocks Sloly’s leadership, specifically the stance he’s taken on systemic racism in the force and the way he handled a racist meme created by an OPS officer earlier this year.

Similar videos have been made for years to criticize everything from government programs to decisions made by coaches in playoff games to the 2009-10 OC Transpo strike.

This still comes from the video circulating online comparing Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly to Adolf Hitler. In the video, the subtitles that play over a speech by Hitler — played by actor Bruno Ganz in the 2004 film Downfall — are altered to mock Sloly’s recent comments about systemic racism in the police force. (Anonymous online video)

This one appeared online not long after Ottawa Police Association president Matt Skof posted a letter on the union’s website in which he took issue with the chief’s assertion that racism exists within the OPS.

“For me, it’s something that is quite reprehensible. It’s absolutely racist,” said César Ndéma-Moussa, president of advocacy group Roots and Culture Canada and a member of the city’s community equity council, which works to improve the relationship between police and marginalized communities.

“I truly am convinced the fact that Chief Sloly is Black plays a strong role in the latest … attacks that he’s been a victim of.”

No investigation confirmed

It’s not clear who posted the video, or if OPS is investigating. The police service did not respond last week to a request for comment, while Skof also declined to speak about the video.

Ndéma-Moussa said he’d like to see those responsible held to account.

“The very nature of the video is to mock Chief Sloly, is to mock the very notions of systemic racism, is to mock equity, diversity and [inclusiveness],” he said.

César Ndéma-Moussa, seen here in 2017, says he is ‘strongly convinced’ the fact Ottawa Police Service Chief Peter Sloly is Black played a role in the decision to create the video. (CBC)

In a time when the conversation around racism is so heated, a video like this can be a step in the wrong direction, said Aisha Sherazi, a former member of the equity council.

“The chief has not said anything different to his predecessor. But unfortunately, for some reason, you know, there’s a different standard being applied to his message,” she said.

Police chiefs in support

The Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police also denounced the video on social media this past week.

Executive director Jeff McGuire said it undermines Sloly’s authority and may make it more difficult for him to do his job, especially since he’s only been chief since 2019.

“It was disgraceful, gutless, hateful,” McGuire said.

“Going into another agency, from outside, to be the leader of that organisation can have significant challenges. When you throw things like [these] hateful, racist comments into the mix on top of it, it’s actually that much more challenging.”

McGuire said if an investigation takes place, he could see there being discussion about whether the video is evidence of a hate crime happening — but such a charge would have to first meet certain criteria within the Criminal Code.

Source: CBC News


Ottawa Police board condemns racist video targeting chief

Shaamini Yogaretnam

Sep 29, 2020  

The Ottawa Police Services Board publicly defended and backed the mission of Chief Peter Sloly at Monday’s board meeting, breaking its silence more than a week after an online video mocking the chief and comparing him to Hitler appeared on social media.

In sweeping remarks that she directed to “all police officers and members, their associations, to the board and to the public,” chair Coun. Diane Deans said, “At the heart of policing is public trust.”

Deans, in her first meeting after returning from a year-long medical leave battling cancer, acknowledged months of scandal at the service and alleged inappropriate and even criminal behaviour. “Police cannot be effective if they don’t have the support of the community that they serve,” she said.

That “public trust in our police service … has eroded.”

Deans said “too many tragic incidents” have compromised public trust and “have led to calls to defund police.” She told the board that she wasn’t sure that focusing solely on budgets and numbers would give rise to a solution.

“We need to restore public confidence and trust. Locally, there has been a series of unsettling and inappropriate events involving, or against, members of the service,” she said. “We are aware of alleged sexual assault and harassment within the Ottawa Police Service workplace. Additionally we have seen racist memes and we have witnessed personal attacks on our chief.”

Deans said neither the board nor the city would tolerate violence or hate.

“These acts are disgusting,” she said. “They cast a shadow over the important work of the police service. They need to stop.”

It’s not known whether a police officer was involved in making the video, which used a popular scene from the movie Downfall depicting Hitler’s last days. That scene was overlaid with subtitles specific to the Ottawa Police Service that criticized Sloly’s decision-making.

Deans said the “vast majority of our police service are great officers” who “wear the uniform with pride and serve this city with everything you have.” She also promised to show the community that good police, despite being routinely criticized, are working for them and the betterment of the city.

Sloly, himself, did not address the video but thanked the board for its support. The chief also said the service is working toward progress in a period of “constant change, unprecedented crisis, massive budget losses and never-before-seen levels of public scrutiny.”

Mayor Jim Watson told the meeting that “there have been a number of disturbing events over the past few weeks” the citizens and police officers should “find alarming and frankly, completely unacceptable.”

Watson called on rank-and-file officers to denounce the “cowardly, anonymous social media meme that compared Chief Sloly to Hitler.”

Watson said the video was an attempt to undermine Sloly’s acknowledgement of systemic racism in policing. He also said that such behaviour was “nurtured” by an open letter by Ottawa Police Association president Matt Skof, which claimed Sloly sacrificed his own officers in bending to community concerns.

Watson not only called into question the purpose of the letter, which he said could only be to undermine the chief, but also demanded Skof apologize for allegedly calling a Somali-Canadian community organizer a misogynist slur. Skof previously declined to comment on the allegation but previously admitted that his voice is, at times, on a series of recordings that form the basis of criminal charges of breach of trust and obstruction of justice against him.

Watson, whom community groups have asked for months to comment on the audio, called the slur “vile and reprehensible” on Monday.

Watson, too, said the behaviour of officers charged with misconduct and criminal offences is unfair to those officers “doing their jobs, putting their lives on the line each and every day with dedication, professionalism and integrity and reaching out to the community in their time of need.”

Twelve public delegates signed up to speak at the board meeting, many of them calling for the board to defund police or, instead, invest in grassroots alternatives.

Oussama Moulay told the board that he grew up both in the Ritchie Street and Heatherington Road areas.

“Growing up in these neighbourhoods, we all wanted to be cops. We looked up to them up until we reached the age of … being treated like we’re up to something,” Moulay said.

“We always admired them. We respected them for protecting our communities until we started getting treated like we’re the ones affecting that community in a negative manner.”

Source: Ottawa Citizen

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