Re: Trial By Facebook

The Editor
Leader Post
Regina, Sask.

Dear Editor:

Re: “Trial By Facebook” in the May 19, 2015 edition of your paper. I wish to correct a quote that is attributed to me regarding the use of social media to post complaints. What I did say was if someone comes to SCAR with allegations, I would encourage them to do both; use the existing systems, such as they are, and use social media in order to have control of their message. The reaction by the Regina Police Service and Public Complaints Commission (PCC), to the complaint in question in this article, is a prime example of why people do, and must, use social media as well to control the true message of their complaint. “ It is particularly telling that that PCC Director John Clarke is quoted as saying “If you’re going to vilify the police publicly we’re interested in trying to determine whether there’s fact to it or whether it’s just someone making a false allegation and trying to get a groundswell of support.” Actually in all of my years at SCAR, I don’t remember anyone coming to us with a complaint to ‘vilify’ police. Most citizens actually believe that their complaints might be welcomed by a police service wanting to serve all citizens in a proper manner and by the PCC.

Chief Hagen is quoted as saying “It’s so important for people, just because they see something posted, to not necessarily accept it as factual.” I would include in that point the statements that have been delivered by the RPS and the PCC. For example, the PCC seems to have overlooked in their fact finding that Ms. Watson was taken on the Ring Road around the city to the Winnipeg Street turnoff which is very near the refinery as she had alleged.(That fact was challenged by RPS Chief Troy Hagen in the media and that challenge appears to have been accepted by the PCC). In fact, although some of Ms. Watson’s beliefs were incorrect, most of her assertions turned out to be understandable and true. It was she who informed the PCC that her apartment building had a security camera that they could check. She wanted the truth about how she ended up outside in dangerous winter conditions. Privately, the PCC staff admitted that they understood how she could have believed that all of her allegations were correct, but publicly it has been a different matter. Who really has been “vilified” here? This is in fact why we will continue to encourage complainants to use both the existing complaint processes and social media to put their complaints forward in an uncontrolled fashion.

Sincerely, Bob Hughes,
Saskatchewan Coalition Against Racism