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article imageRCMP: Social media comments after shooting death may be illegal

By Arthur Weinreb     Aug 21, 2016 in Crime
Biggar - Saskatchewan RCMP have issued a warning that some social media posts may be illegal after a 22-year-aboriginal man was shot to death while in a car that drove onto a farmer's property.
The warning came in a media release issued yesterday. The release said police are watching the area in and around Biggar, Saskatchewan where the shooting took place and asked people to "remain respectful" while referring to the incident on social media. The RCMP did not say whether any complaints were made about social media posts and have refused further comment.
On Aug. 9, a car with five people in it pulled onto the farm property of Gerald Stanley around 5:30 p.m.. One of the occupants of the car, Colten Boushie, was shot. Boushie was pronounced dead at the scene and Stanley, 54, was taken into custody and charged with second-degree murder. Although the survivors in the car were also taken into custody to be investigated for theft, they were released the following day.
CJME reports what Eric Meechance, one of the people in the car, said happened. Meechance said the five had gone swimming and were on their way home to the Red Pheasant First Nation when one of the tires blew. The car then stopped at the farm and the farmer came out immediately and smashed their windshield. The driver tried to drive away but could not see properly and hit a parked car. Meechance said he and the driver got out of the car and ran. leaving Boushie and two women in the vehicle. He then heard shots being fired.
Meechance denied they drove onto the property to steal or do anything illegal.
The shooting has deepened the divisions between aboriginals and the rest of the community. These divisions only worsened on Friday when Stanley appeared in court for a bail hearing. He was released on $10,000 bail with conditions such as to have no contact with Boushie's family and to wear a monitoring bracelet.
It was in this context that some social media posts were made that the RCMP feel could constitute hate crimes. But the RCMP were not the first to notice the tone of some of the online comments. A week ago, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall posted there is no room in Saskatchewan for intolerance and called for it to stop. Wall noted there are laws to protect people from the kind of hate some posts are fomenting and said these laws will be enforced. The premier also stated no one should jump to conclusions about what happened and let the RCMP do their work.
On Wednesday, the National Farmers Union issued a statement expressing their condolences over the death of Boushie and condemned the "rampant racist comments" made on social media, making specific reference to the Saskatchewan Farmers Facebook page. That page has since been taken down.
The RCMP is asking any members of the public who have concerns about posts on social media to contact them.
More about Rcmp, racist social media comments, shooting of colten boushie, police monitor social media, Hate Crimes
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