Mothers of two fatal police shooting victims gathered Friday where Jared Lowndes died exactly one year ago.
Laura Holland and Martha Martin joined anti-police-violence organizers from across B.C. outside a Campbell River Tim Hortons to commemorate Lowndes’ death on July 8, 2021 and to call for change.
“It’s been a year of quiet grieving for me,” Lowndes’ mother Laura Holland told the gathering. “And I say quiet grieving. Because I haven’t been out speaking, haven’t been out telling people, haven’t been out telling the world how I feel. I haven’t been out telling the governments they need to change. It’s been a year of quiet grief for me. And today that ends.
“I tried my best to respect my people’s ways. And today, it’s over. Today starts my year of love and rage.”
Martin’s daughter, Chantel Moore of the Tofino-area Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, was killed by the Edmunston police in New Brunswick in June of 2020. And a few months later, Martin’s son, Mike Martin, died while in custody at the Surrey pre-trial centre.
“As mothers, we are angry, we are disgusted,” she said as highway traffic passed and customers entered and exited the restaurant parking lot.
Friday’s rally was organized by #JusticeForJared supporters. It included a march through Campbell River and another rally at the Campbell River RCMP police detachment.
Campbell River RCMP said in a statement issued Friday evening, that “For public safety reasons police were required to conduct traffic control and to keep the peace. Several frustrated motorists made efforts to physically intervene. The demonstrators were unwilling to work with police and occupied both laneways which caused significant traffic congestion.”
Lowndes, 38, was killed in a police-involved altercation in the Tim Hortons parking lot. Police say Mounties attempted to stop a vehicle in relation to an outstanding warrant when the suspect fled. According to the National Police Federation, it was an outstanding warrant for weapons offences. An officer boxed the vehicle in before confronting Lowndes with a police dog. The dog was fatally stabbed and Lowndes was shot, dying a short time later. The dog handler received a knife wound.
Holland said there’s not a day that goes by that she doesn’t wake up and think about her son.
“There’s not a day that goes by I don’t wake up and think, just around the corner here. Just around the corner is where his car was smashed in by three police vehicles,” she said. “They sent their dog after him.”
Organizers of the #JusticeForJared rally said in an emailed statement they march to bring attention to the ongoing violence perpetrated at the hands of the RCMP. They say the killing of Indigenous people by police must end.
“The rate of violent crimes against Indigenous people – by those meant to keep us safe – is astonishing,” Randy Geddes, friend of Jared Lowndes, said in the statement. “The police investigating police’s crimes needs to stop. The IIO can never be a truly impartial organization and can’t be trusted to take care of public safety.”
The IIO is the Independent Investigations Office, B.C.’s police watchdog set up to investigate police-related incidents at arms-length from the force.
As of the first anniversary of Lowndes shooting, the IIO has yet to produce a public report on his death.
Holland continues to call for an external investigation, including the examination of the role of the RCMP “E” Division and the federal ministries which oversee and dictate RCMP activities – the Minister of Justice and Minister of Public Safety.
Since Lowdnes’ death, four other IIO Investigations have been opened into deaths connected to the Campbell River RCMP. While these investigations are done independently, march organizers say they shroud police conduct in secrecy. They want the RCMP subject to public scrutiny.
The demonstrators attended the Campbell River RCMP Detachment where they occupied the entire parking lot and front entrance, RCMP said. Large six foot signs were placed in front of the doorways. Loudhailers were used to express displeasures, while derogatory comments were directed toward police and staff.
“Profanities were painted across the parking lot, as well graphic imagery at the front doorway. Campbell River RMCP were later aware that several people were impeded by the demonstration, while others felt unsafe in approaching the Detachment,” the RCMP statement says. “The RCMP respects the rights of individuals to peaceful, lawful and safe protest, and we are committed to facilitating a dialogue between all parties. With that said we also respect the right that the public should feel safe while they access police resources. The Campbell River RCMP would like to thank the public for their patience & support relating to the demonstration. In addition to the many expressed condolences for PSD Gator.”
The Campbell River RCMP Detachment are investigating the elements of the demonstration that were criminal in their nature, and ask you contact the Detachment at 250-286-6221 if you have video, photos, or pertinent information relating to these events. Please reference Campbell River RCMP file: 22-8711. If have information the would be helpful but don’t want to be personally involved you can call CRIME STOPPERS at 1-800-222-8477, or go to http://campbellriver.crimestoppersweb.com