Members of the Owen Sound community took a knee at the Black History Cairn in Harrison Park today as a statement against racism.
This comes as demonstrations carry on in the US, Canada and in places around the world in response to the police killing of a black man, George Floyd in Minnesota last month.
Police Chief Craig Ambrose, Owen Sound Mayor Ian Boddy and 9th and 10th generation in Owen Sound's black community, mother and daughter Rebecca Ironmonger and Scarlett Haight posed at the cairn for a picture they hope will inspire others to do the same.
Chief Ambrose denounced the treatment of Floyd, saying he can't understand what that officer was thinking, "It disgusted me, it made me sick to my stomach the fact that someone could treat another human being like that," says Ambrose.
Now fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was seen on video May 25th kneeling on Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes (after which Floyd died) is charged with second-degree murder and the three other offcers who stood by were also fired and are now charged with aiding and abetting second degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
Ambrose says police in Owen Sound have race relations training, and notes they work to ensure Owen Sound is an inclusive society, "We work with our community partners, we work with all the agencies in the community and talk and have those relationships. Yes the training is important, but the ongoing discussions and the ongoing relationships that we have is what's more important."
Rebecca Ironmonger and her daughter Scarlett, (shown in the picture above) are 9th and 10th generation descendants of black ancestors who fled racism and slavery in the United States to settle in Owen Sound, "This is a long lineage in this area, it's been the underground railroad and our historic family picnic since 1862," says Ironmonger.
She adds, "It doesn't feel right for us to be silent. I might not look like a minority but I hold solidarity and want to bring awareness and demonstrate that we are here, we see what's going on."
"We want better for our community, for our community down south, for humanity," says Ironmonger.
She hopes people will use their social media to take a stand against racism, "I really like the virtual wave that we can create. The demonstration that we can put on that isn't just a few hours. It can last and create some serious momentum while keeping everybody safe from riots, from COVID," she adds, "People can have their own emotional process without it being condemned or inflamed."
Mayor Ian Boddy is encouraging the community to get involved, "What I'd really like to see is the community come out to the cairn if they can and take a knee, take a picture and post it on Facebook," adding "If you can't come down here, do it at home."
Boddy hopes people will support the movement against racism, "Show where you stand on this and lets send a message out to the world what kind of community we are here in Owen Sound."
Racism of any type will not be tolerated. Mayor @ian_boddy and Owen Sound Police Chief Ambrose took a knee this morning at the Harrison Park Black History Cairn to pay #respct and #acknowledge the tragic events in the U.S. We will stand beside one another as a community. pic.twitter.com/lJAUjSxUtc— City of Owen Sound (@CityOwenSound) June 3, 2020
Taking a knee at the Black History Cairn @CityOwenSound. Paying respect & acknowledging the terrible events that recently took place in the US. There's no place for racism in our society. @NewsBayshore @923thedock @OwenSoundST @OwenSoundHub @ChiefAmbroseOSP @ian_boddy @OSPApres pic.twitter.com/Uicl1iTRaI— OwenSoundPolice (@OwenSoundPolice) June 3, 2020