Racism and our First Responders

It was around 9 o’clock in the morning on Wednesday, July 29, 2009 when Eric Schweig, passing through Vancouver’s Grandview Park, noticed a man laying the prone position. It was 35° Celsius (95° Fahrenheit) with the humidex at that time, and the day was only going to get hotter. In fact, at the days end the temperature will have broken the record for the area at 38°C (100°F)! That was the temperature around 4 p.m. when Schweig was passing back through the park where he saw the same person — an aboriginal man named Curtis Brick — he saw seven hour earlier. Brick had spent at least seven hours under the blistering sun, and now he was convusling.

Eric Schweig talks to CTV News. August 15, 2009. (CTV)

Eric Schweig talks to CTV News. August 15, 2009. (CTV)

Erick Schweig told CTV News that when the first responders arrived, the firefighters started making racist comments. According to Schweig, one firefighter said “That’s what you get for drinking Lysol all day.” A paramedic on the scene pointed to a crowed of aboriginal children that had gather and told Schweig to get “his children out of the way.” Needless to say, it was a stunning display of the opposite values one would want in a first responder. Here we have a firefighter who jumps to a conclusion based on racist stereotypical (that Aboriginal people are all lazy drunks) and a paramedic that in a group of Aboriginal people either a) they all know each other or b) they’re all related. No need to make inquiry, no need to bother with finding out the facts. These two sure don’t have time to waste empathy on some drunken indian. Fuck you Ira Hayes, we’ve got white people to save.

Anthony O'Brien "Dudley" George (March 17, 1957 – September 7, 1995)

Anthony O'Brien "Dudley" George (March 17, 1957 – September 7, 1995)

You know who else was overheard making racist comments about Aboriginal people before one died? The OPP at Ipperwash, and by “one” I mean an unarmed Dudley George, and by “died” I mean shot by police, while unarmed. The exchange of the two OPP officers went a little something like this:

Cop #1:  Is there still a lot of press down there?

Cop #2:  No, there’s no one down there. Just a great big fat fuck Indian

Cop #1: The camera’s rolling, eh?

Cop #2: Yeah.

Cop #1: We had this plan, you know. We thought if we could get five or six cases of Labatt’s 50, we could bait them.

Cop #2: Yeah.

Cop #1: Then we’d have this big net at a pit.

Cop #2: Creative thinking

Cop #1: Works in the (U.S.) South with watermelon.

(You see, all them injuns loooove beer and all them negros loooove watermelon… get it?)

Racism in this line of work is, unfortunatly, not that uncommon. A quick Google search will easily bring you stories of racist attitudes and incidents found among nurses, firefighters, and police. And until the people involved in overseeing these public services gets serious and treats it as the systematic problem that it is, we will continue to hear the same stories of the same bullshit for a long, long time.

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