Police Chief’s bombastic ‘consensual’ claim leaves protestors livid after youth’s brutal assault

by Levi Gogerla

On Monday May 1, 2021 a peaceful protest was held in front of the Downtown Edmonton Police Department HQ in support of Pazo, a 14-year-old black boy who was hospitalized after being brutally assaulted by a group of boys who also hurled racial slurs at him outside of Rosslyn School on April 16. The rally was critical of how the EPS has handled the case, particularly Chief Dale McFee’s comments that the assault was not a hate crime and that the fight was “consensual.”  

Chief Dale McFee went on to say that the attack couldn’t be racial in nature because some of the other children involved were of racialised descent. Protesters at the peaceful protest were quick in rebuttal that there is anti-blackness and racism even in racialised communities, and that it’s deeply uncomfortable for him to say anything along those lines. 

Protestors believe the response from authorities has been deplorable. They say action must be taken – at the very least, an apology issued from those dedicated to serve and protect the community. 

“I want an admission of guilt. Justice has not been served and I want something to be done,” protester Veronica Waititu says.  “I expect an apology and a retraction of such a crass statement. Do not tell me a child who was beaten, and there’s a video to show of it, being held down, choked and beyond is consensual.”

Protestors say the conversation needs to be about reform – about how to ensure Edmonton’s police are as committed to acting as an anti-racist body and to ensuring every single person in this city, regardless of skin color, is protected and feels safe. 

“People do not know the extent to what’s going on,” rally organiser Tiera Williams says. “This is an almost every day occurrence to the racialised people in our community. The police need to recognize accountability, and that includes recognizing the harm their words have caused.”

Protestors say what happened to Pazo and his family was simply not right.  They attest that schools were slow to respond and some believe charges should still be laid on the perpetrators.

No charges have yet been filed regarding the incident.