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On August 22, 2022, the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) murdered Christopher Amyotte, a Ojibway-Ditibineya-ziibiing father of eight. Depsite outcry from bystanders that Chris was unarmed and in urgent medical distress, the VPD shot him 6 times at close-range with a bean-bag shot gun, killing him. A memorial for Chris has been erected by his family and supporters at the sight of his murder.
Chris's family stated: “We are devastated by the loss of our father, grandfather, husband, brother and uncle...Words cannot describe our pain... Whatever happened on the morning of August 22, Chris did not deserve to die. As a First Nations man, this is not the first time Chris has been harmed by a police force."
Ongoing excessive police force has the Downtown Eastside community reeling. An organizer with the Our Streets campaign commented, "We are not third class citizens. We are human beings. If feels like the cops just protect the rich and the powerful."
Chris's case is the 5th Independent Investigations Office (IIO) investigation of the VPD and one of 16 police-involved shootings in BC since April 2022. The Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users launched its own investigation due to deep distrust of VPD and the supposedly arms length IIO.
A 2019 report contracted by Public Safety Canada found the police target people based on neighbourhood and race, failing to resolve the ongoing harms of policing Indigenous people.
A shocking 40% of police shootings between 2017 and 2020 targeted Indigenous people, who are ten times more likely to be shot by the police and 11 times more likely to be accused of a violent crime.
The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples said it was "furious'' to hear about Chris' death, noting his murder "showcased the
'deep and ongoing failures by police when dealing with Indigenous people in distress." The Union of BC Indian Chiefs tweeted that, "Indigenous people must avoid interactions with the police if they want to live."
Since Amyotte's murder, there have been calls for "answers and justice" in the Downtown Eastside community. Some people are taking it a step further, calling for "a world free of police brutality and racial violence."