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Black Lives Matter descends on Barrie following death of Olando Brown

BLM members voice their frustration over lack of information being given in the death of Olando Brown

The Black Lives Matter group organized a rally in Barrie today to voice their frustration over what they see as a lack of information being given in the death of Olando Brown.

Brown is the 32-year-old man who died in police custody on June 22 after an incident in downtown Barrie where three police officers attempted to arrest him with the use of Tasers. 

At this time, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has taken over the case and no details are allowed to be released until the investigation is complete.

That process has frustrated family and friends of Brown, who contacted BLM Toronto in attempt to push for change.

Ravyn Wngz works with BLM and was one of the organizers of today’s gathering at Barrie police headquarters on Sperling Drive.

Wngz says the frustrating part right now is that the family doesn't know what happened to Brown.

“We’re simply here today on behalf of friends and family of Olando Brown and to help bring attention to who he was, bring attention to what happened to him and lay out the demands that the family want,” said Wngz. “There should absolutely be more transparency and I think right now we know that the SIU is largely made up of retired police officers. They’re interested in taking care of their own when these situations take place.”

The crowd that gathered was made up of more than 30 people who came with signs and chants to as the group moved from the Giant Tiger parking lot on Cundles Road down Sperling Drive to the front lawn of the police station.

Sandy Hudson, the co-organizer of the event, says the Brown incident is larger than just a Barrie problem as she mentioned that instead of seeing help from the new premier of Ontario, there has been a step backwards in policy since Doug Ford took office.

“It is very frustrating, especially when we have a new premier in this province and despite a lot of work being done in the last few years and a long consultation process that was had to implement a new Policing Oversight Act,” said Hudson.

“The public were to be privy to things like full SIU reports, more transparency when these incidences happen, automatic coroner inquests and other things that would be a step in the right direction," Hudson added. "Before he even stepped into the legislature, the new premier announced he is going to pull the Act and that is enraging. It's as though we don’t matter and that’s why we have to come out and be heard wherever it is needed.

"Barrie needs a voice," Hudson said. "The people in Barrie affected by the Olando Brown tragedy need a voice to ensure that police can’t continue to get away with this."

Olando Brown was arrested the afternoon of June 22 by Barrie police officers downtown near the Five Points.

A pair of videos believed to be of Brown's arrest appear to show officers using conductive energy devices (also known by the Taser brand name) during the arrest.

While being booked at the police station, Brown went into medical distress.

Paramedics arrived to provide first aid and then took him to Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

No information has been released by authorities about why Brown was arrested, but one woman who said she knew Brown told BarrieToday it was related to an outstanding assault charge.

The list of demands presented to police on behalf of the family, as outlined by BLM, included releasing the names of the officers involved in the arrest, releasing any video footage from the public space where the arrest occurred and a full account of what happened inside the police station.


Shawn Gibson

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