In the trial of Gerald Stanley, an all-white jury runs from justice

Last night, a crowded Saskatchewan courtroom heard the verdict of the 12-person jury in the trial of 56-year-old Gerald Stanley, the white farmer charged in the 2016 shooting death of Red Pheasant First Nation member Colten Boushie. The decision to find Stanley ‘not guilty’ of the second-degree murder of 22-year-old Boushie set off a firestorm of reaction across social media, on both sides of the case. Here, Indigenous entrepreneur and commentator Robert Jago shares his perspective on what we should take away from the verdict.

There is a video from outside the courthouse in Battleford, Saskatchewan last night. It shows a screen which is split in four and displaying the courtroom, the jury box, the judge, and the accused in the Gerald Stanley case.

As the verdict is announced, there are gasps and shouts; Colten Boushie’s mother cries out. Bailiffs grab Gerald Stanley and run out of the frame, and to a waiting truck under heavy RCMP protection.

In the jury box, a dark-haired woman in a short dress, and long hooded sweater jumps up as Stanley passes, and runs off camera herself—getting away from the family and the assembled Indians in the courtroom.

I would like to think that she ran because she was ashamed of what she had just done. But the likelier answer is that she ran for the same reason that she and her fellow members of the all-white jury found Gerald Stanley not guilty of killing 22-year-old Colten Boushie. They were afraid of Indians, especially angry Indians.

And let’s dispense, for a moment, with those words “First Nations” and “Indigenous,” because those imply respect, and progress. Today, it is clear that we’re still “Indians.”

“Fights with Native kids were a too-common part of [my friend’s childhood] experience … It’s no overstatement to point out that such kids were, on average, rougher than the white kids, or that they were touchier…”

That is a quote from the best-selling non-fiction book in Canada this week, Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life. Natives are rougher, touchier. The Indians are restless—run.

Some people in this country are worried about schools engaging in social engineering to manipulate children into holding certain political views. They’re right to be worried. It is school that taught that woman when to run. It was newspapers, TV, films, it was books. It was every comment and joke that taught her to run; it was the Premier of her province urging “calm” after the verdict. It was what her boss told her at her part-time job—’Watch that Indian over there, I think he’s stealing.’ She was taught to run, and to think that Indians, especially young male Indians, are scary—subconsciously, it sunk in, that they’re wild and dangerous animals.

If a fox is stealing chickens, it’s not enough to chase it away, you need to put it down. Gerald Stanley put Colten Boushie down at point-blank range, and because these jurors were raised to see us as scary animals, to think of us as wild “wagon burners”—a slur you hear on the Prairies—it was easy for them to see why he was justified. ‘It could have been me and my family,’ they undoubtedly thought—and who wouldn’t do anything to protect their families?

Gerald Stanley had a family, and one that looked like those of the all-white jury. Colten Boushie didn’t have a family. Indians don’t have “families.” They have braves and squaws, chiefs and papooses, bitches and thugs—but not a mother and father like the Stanleys are.

When you hear the mother of a deceased child wail in agony for the verdict you’ve brought down, you hang your head, and quietly and respectfully leave. On the other hand, when you get between a wild animal and its mother, you run. That woman in the jury reacted like Colten Boushie’s mother was a charging bear, not a grieving mother.

Don’t say that this is about Saskatchewan, or the defence, or those racists over there. And don’t say that Canada failed Indigenous people—Canada just failed. It wasn’t a mob of racists that released a killer onto the streets—it was 12 regular Canadians.

These are Canadians who have lived their entire lives hearing excuses for why they don’t need to care about Indians. Why care about tainted drinking water on reserves? ‘Those greedy chiefs are probably taking the money, those Indians need to sort themselves out first.’ Why care about the crisis in Thunder Bay? ‘It’s Indians killing Indians, Indians drinking too much and falling in the water, what are we supposed to do?’ For every problem that Indians face in this country, there is a ready excuse, a fig leaf, to shield Canada from blame.

The defence presented a case that centered around a magic bullet. It is a hard story to believe, but you don’t have to believe it. You don’t need a hard sell to get an addict to buy your meth. And you don’t need a hard sell to push a fig leaf on people who don’t know how to live without one.

If you don’t know how it is that so many reserves live in poverty, or why the prisons are full of our people, or why there are so many suicides, boil-water advisories, why there are so many Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, why any of the dysfunction and failure and tragedy that is the “Indian Problem” in this country exists, look for your answer in the Gerald Stanley verdict.

To find Gerald Stanley guilty, would be to find him responsible for his actions—actions which resulted in the death of Colten Boushie, an Indian. But we don’t do that in this country. White Canada is not to be held responsible for what has happened to Indians.

The school that teaches you to run, also teaches you that you’re the good guys in this story, and that everything that has befallen our Indian race was inevitable, it came on us like a force of nature. Who can blame you for a flood or an ice storm? Who can blame you for tainted water, or blame Gerald Stanley for just doing what any of you would do in the same situation? The jury decided that blame, as always, belonged to the Indian, for trespassing on this farm and putting himself in harm’s way. The best of you will shake your head and pity him, the poor animal, for not knowing better—but what can you do?

I feared that the jury would come down with a manslaughter conviction instead of the murder conviction that was due. No part of me thought they would let him go and believe this story. I honestly thought it was hyperbole to think that Stanley could get away with what he did, because as bad as some people say it all is, people claim to have good intentions, and things are better, aren’t they?

But they’re not. That’s what the verdict shows. That’s why she’s running.

The author, Robert Jago, would like readers to know that they are welcome to re-post his piece on their own sites, provided they cite (and hyperlink) to its original publication here on MEDIA INDIGENA.

14 thoughts on “In the trial of Gerald Stanley, an all-white jury runs from justice

  1. Sadly, Mr. Jago, my conclusion was the same as yours. Now, I’m going to hope that there will be an appeal, that a new trial will be held in some other location where racism is not as rampant as on the prairies, and that there will also be a complete review of this whole case by the justice department, along with some new regulations that don’t allow for stacked juries.

  2. I really thought they HAD to a least find him guilty of manslaughter. It’s impossible for Stanley to be innocent. Even if he thought the gun was empty, he still owned the gun, was trained in how to use it safely and yet pointed it at Colten Bouchie’s head. It was, at the very minimum, a reckless, irresponsible thing to do and led to the death of a young man. And at the most, it was murder. I am disgusted that he walked.

  3. You know what it’s like when an employer steals money from his workers and then starts disrespecting them too. Or when the 1% steals away with their money offshore then supports candidates who will hide that fact or tax us even more or steal away our services and in essence tells us to vote against our own interests. Yeah this is us being the assholes and then blaming the victim. White folks have been the assholes by not honouring the treaties and electing governments who hide the truth for us. Yet we blame the victims and disrespect the victims when they turn to addictions to drown their pain. This is us running from our shame. We own this disgrace and we better face it.

  4. Robert Jago, as long as you keep writing illogical and fragmented perspectives of reality, you will keep driving a wedge between us Canadians. It is actually the opposite of what you say. First Nation aka Indigenous people are brought up with this chip on their shoulders and are taught how the devil (white man) is responsible for everything that is wrong in their lives. I live in Thunder Bay and I poise this simple question. Why are the 12% of our population, (indigenous people) involved in 95% of all murders. Why is the majority of robberies, beatings, reports of abuse, missing children, poverty, welfare, assisted housing, food banks, missing woman, drunks on our streets, parks, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera being done by this 12%. Who is stopping these 12% from becoming, doctors, lawyers, dentists, entrepreneurs, carpenters, mechanics, etcetera, etcetera. Who is stopping these people from having their reserves as models of great productive communities. Who is stopping these reserves from becoming the epicenter for intellects, thinkers, philosophers,etcetera? Do I need to say anymore. Bottom line, I truly believe the the majority of white men (devils) truly feel the heart break and send their condolences to Colten Boushie’s family. Very sad, and tragic situation. United we stand, divided we fall. Lets have a inquiry into what is really happening in Canada and as Canadians, what we all can do to help each other to overcome this 500 year tragedy. Perhaps, the Jewish community that suffered 100 times worse, could bring light to this very real struggle our First Nation People having been fighting for for over 600 years? It is impossible to change anything, if we refuse to acknowledge that it exists.

  5. This is just my opinion. If you don’t see another person as a human being and just see them as the “other” then you will react and protect against that “other”, even if it means valuing your property over that “other”. The farmer in this case was defending his property because he did not see the victim as a human being. He saw him as the “other”. He saw him as a threat to his property. He saw him as a threat and not as a human being. He saw him as an undesirable. He did not see a young man, a human being. He made a decision to send a message. This resulted in the death of this young man. And you would think that justice would prevail and the farmer responsible for this would be held accountable. How is it that he is not? How does the victim’s family deal with this? Where is their comfort in that fact that we are supposed to live in a just society. How do they deal with the fact that this farmer did not see this young man as a human being but as “other”?
    The problem is that Canada and Canadians provide lip service to issues that are difficult. Canadians believe that they are not racist but the facts tell a different story. It’s systemic and it’s ingrained in the culture. From the harmless jokes to the bullets of a farmer’s hand gun to the loss of a young man’s life. The day when Canadians look at people as human beings and not as “other” will be the day that things start to get better.

  6. OK, the fact is that these young men and women were attempting to commit armed robbery at this Stanley farm, although none of the media will state this. They had perviously attempted to steal a car at another farm and they were armed with a loaded rifle. Now I’m not saying that penalty for armed robbery should be death, but the real people responsible for this death were the armed robbers not the farmer trying to defend himself. Race should not have anything to do with it!

  7. Am I the only home invasion survivor to comment? Both my home invasions were commited by “white” people.
    Both times the terror was beyond belief.
    It is probably too much to ask that someone understand the terror unless they have experienced it first hand. ” Is this person going to kill me?” ” what do they want ?” Just two of the questions that ran through my mind.
    Two questions that didn’t go through my mind is ” what is this persons ethnicity? ” ” Is this person 1st nations?”
    To think that someone who is experiencing a home invasion is gauging their actions according to the perpetrators race is ludicrous at best !
    Now on the other hand I am willing to bet that the five occupants of the suv never stole from any indigenous people! They didn’t go “checking vehicles” on their reserve.
    Colten Boushie commited several crimes the day he died. He had no respect for the law and no respect for “white people”.
    In death it is being said that Colten’s life mattered. I believe it does! But if Colten’s life mattered to him he wouldn’t have been drunk, in an unsafe vehicle with a drunk driving!

  8. To all people, of all races and cultural backgrounds… if you don’t want to suffer the heartache of having your children shot, stabbed, beaten or whatever else by someone, perhaps you should teach them to have enough respect for other people and their property that they won’t grow up to be getting shit faced and drive around in an unsafe vehicle driven by a drunk driver, with a loaded firearm and trying to break into other people’s homes and vehicles….

    If I was in the same situation as this land owner, I’d have done much the same thing. The last thought in my head would be anything about race. I’d react the same way to a carload or white kids, black kids, Asian kids… it doesn’t matter. I’ve been poor, I spent years without a penny in my pocket to spare even for necessities. What I’ve never done is taken something that doesn’t belong to me.

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