Young Black men shook after the police in Ottawa called for video shooting
People waiting outside a mall to shoot music videos were handcuffed at gunpoint
A young black man in Ottawa said he was traumatized by a recent encounter with the police.
Chris Simba, a 19-year-old music producer and promoter, said he was planning to film a video outside the St. Laurent Shopping Centre east of downtown for one of his artists on Sunday.
A group of seven young black men were waiting for the videographer when Simba said they were surrounded by around a dozen police cars and gun-drawn officers from nowhere.
"Our lives flashed before our eyes," he said.
Simba said he tried to clarify to the police that the confusion must have happened, but an officer pointed his gun at him. He said he was then put in a police car and handcuffed.
"All of the boys that were in the car had to lay on the ground and had at least 10 guns pointed at them. So it's like one wrong move [was] life or death," he said.
"We're good kids. We're kids with futures. Some of us have scholarships, some of us have passions."
Issued without being charged
The Ottawa Police Service reported that 911 calls were made by individuals wearing masks and carrying weapons.
Police said a replica handgun was confiscated. Simba said the replica was a prop that had never been taken out of the car for the film.
Four persons were arrested and released without charge at the scene, the police said.
Robin Browne, co-lead of the anti-racism organization 613-819 Black Center, said, "I was glad that nobody ended up dead. It traumatizes the community for sure,"
"This one is particularly egregious with the police drawing their guns on these young boys. It's traumatizing when you get harassed by the police in any manner, but when they pull their guns, that's particularly traumatizing. It can have effects that last for years."
The moment always replayed in his head, Simba said.
He hopes that the Ottawa police will review how they can de-escalate situations differently and hopes that officers can realize that many people have a real fear of the police.
When you approach these scenes, you understand that you are dealing with people,"There [are] so many ways that this situation could have been dealt with carefully — when you approach these scenes, understand that you're dealing with people,"There are so many ways that this situation could have been handled carefully.
"I literally felt like we were like terrorists or something … It doesn't make you feel good about yourself, doesn't make you feel good about your skin."
Browne would like to see the police in Ottawa retain race-based knowledge on when weapons are drawn and the use of force.