Signs calling for “JUSTICE FOR MONA WANG,” “WELLNESS CHECK REFORM” and “STOP POLICE BRUTALITY” covered the parking lot of RCMP’s E Division in Surrey Saturday (July 11).
The protest was in support of Mona Wang, a UBC Okanagan student, who was dragged and stepped on by an officer after the RCMP was called to check on her wellbeing.
It was organized by the Okanagan Chinese Canadian Association, the Asian Canadian Equity Alliance Association and other supports of “Justice for Mona Wang.”
— Lauren Collins (@laurenpcollins1) July 11, 2020
According to a post about the rallies, the events throughout B.C. were in response to the “shocking, saddening and traumatizing video footage” of a Kelowna RCMP Constable Lacey Browning dragging UBCO student Mona Wang down a hall and pressing her head to the floor with a boot during a wellness check.
Steve Ding, one of the volunteers for the Surrey rally, said the organizers were “personally motivated” because “everybody know this (the situation and the video) is brutal.”
“We don’t think it’s acceptable, so we just want to speak up for her,” said Ding, adding that they hope there will be justice for Wang and the system, specifically wellness checks, can be improved.
“Basically, the people want to collaborate with the RCMP, the government and… the next time they have trouble, they call police, they are not worried about this happening again.”
During the rally, speakers read out an open letter from the organizers to Attorney General David Eby, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth and Premier John Horgan.
The letter states that “in order to prevent such blatant abuse of power by law enforcement in the future,” they are calling for the following:
• The RCMP “admit wrongdoing” and apologize to Wang and the public for Browning’s behaviour
• That Browning’s employment with the RCMP be terminated “immediately without pay” and that she “should be charged with assault to cause bodily harm and obstruction of justice for making false statements.”
• That an independent public review process be established for all cases of police misconduct
• That a task force of “diverse and well-informed” experts and stakeholders be established by provincial governments to “review, revise and implement practical and appropriate first response protocol” for wellness checks
Wang launched a civil lawsuit in March alleging Browning had assaulted her in January and a video of the incident was recently made public.
The alleged assault was filmed by a surveillance video taken from inside the student’s apartment building and the plaintiff’s lawyer is using the video in an attempt to prove the officer used excessive force.
The claim alleges that Mona Wang was at her apartment on Jan. 20 when her boyfriend called police and asked them to provide a health check on Wang, claiming she was under mental distress.
According to court documents, Const. Lacy Browning attended Wang’s apartment and found the student lying on the floor in a state of semi-consciousness. The plaintiff claims she was not a danger to Browning and did not act in a manner that would cause the RCMP officer to fear for their own safety.
The court documents state Browning did not identify herself as an RCMP officer or provide any medical assistance to Wang.
It’s alleged Browning demanded Wang stand up and as she could not stand on her own, the officer then kicked the plaintiff in the stomach.
While addressing the surveillance video showing the incident on Thursday, July 2, BC RCMP Southeast District commander Brad Haugli apologized to Wang.
“I am sorry to Ms. Wang for what occurred. If that was my family member or friend I would want answers as well,” he said.
There were coinciding rallies planned at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Richmond’s Minoru Park and Kelowna’s Stuart Park.
– With files from Michael Rodriguez, Jen Zielinski