Mothers of two fatal police shooting victims gathered today 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. “Where’s our leadership’s coming, you know?”
Friday’s rally was organized by #JusticeForJared supporters. It was to include a march through Campbell River and another rally at Strathcona Gardens Recreation Complex adjacent to the Campbell River RCMP police detachment.
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 weaponization of attack dogs to help the RCMP murder and maim should be criminal. If anyone besides the police did this, it would be treated as a crime,” Randy Geddes, friend of Jared Lowndes, said in the statement.
“Why are they held to a different standard? The rate of violent crimes against Indigenous people – by those meant to keep us safe – is astonishing. 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.
“As a mother of two children killed by police and prisons, I have no faith in recommendations. We need action and we need it now,” Martin said in the statement. “Every time I gather with families, we add new names to our lists of people killed by the police. The violence must end. Now.
“I am walking with Laura Holland because I understand her pain – as a mother who has lost children to police violence. Across this country – from my Nuu-chah-nulth homelands to the Wolastoqey territory I live in – Indigenous people are being killed by the police. Rodney Levi was killed just eight days after my daughter, and two years later we have added so many names.
“The killings must end.”