Dozens of demonstrators gathered in Richmond Saturday to demand justice for a B.C. nursing student who is alleging police brutality by an RCMP officer during a mental wellness check.
“I feel mad and I don’t understand why this is still happening in this day and age. And the fact that the police officer hasn’t been convicted is so disappointing,” said Jessica Lige, a Grade 8 student who attended the rally, part of a series of Justice for Mona Wang protests taking place in cities across B.C.
A surveillance video released late last month shows an RCMP officer in Kelowna dragging Mona Wang – a nursing student at UBC Okanagan – down the hallway and stepping on her head during a mental wellness check at her apartment in January.
Demonstrators also gathered in Kelowna, Surrey and Vancouver. Wang attended the protest in front of the art gallery in downtown Vancouver.
Seij Chiu, Lige’s friend, said he felt disappointed and mad after seeing the video.
While chief supt. Brad Haugli of B.C. RCMP’s southeast district has apologized to Wang, Chiu said that’s nowhere near enough.
“Words might solve elementary school fights, but this isn’t elementary school fights. These are real people getting hurt,” he said.
Another Richmond high school student spoke in front of the crowd, and said Wang’s story made many students hesitant to attend universities.
“If someone has an anxiety attack, the last thing the person wants is someone stepping on their head with boots. We need mental health workers, and we can’t have people who are trained in arresting people to assist in mental health checks. Police shouldn’t be involved,” said the student.
Mina Yiru Lang, who immigrated to Canada 14 years ago, said Wang’s situation could happen to anyone and encouraged more people to stand up and call for justice for Wang.
“Power shouldn’t be used to step on others, but to help and empower others. I will continue to speak out for women, vulnerable groups and fellow Canadians,” said Lang.
The Vancouver protest was live-streamed on Youtube and Zoom.
Earlier this month, chief supt. Brad Haugli of B.C. RCMP’s southeast district said the policy around wellness checks need to be changed, and that he would like to see a nurse accompanying each police officer who responds to mental health calls.
He also said he was “deeply concerned” by the video.
Wang filed a civil lawsuit in March against the RCMP officer in the video, who has since been placed on administrative duties and is facing a code of conduct investigation.