Demonstrators mark one year since Indigenous man’s death in protest at Campbell River RCMP detachment

Demonstrators mark one year since Indigenous man's death in protest at Campbell River RCMP detachment
Jared Lowndes was shot and killed by Campbell River police on July 8, 2021.

Friday marked one year since the death of Jared Lowndes, an Indigenous man shot dead by police following an incident outside a Campbell River coffee shop.

To mark the anniversary, dozens of #JusticeForJared protesters gathered and marched from the scene of the incident to the Campbell River RCMP detachment, with a final stop at the Homalco Cultural Centre.

It was on July 8, 2021, when Lowndes, wanted on outstanding warrants, fled a traffic stop and was later located by RCMP outside the Willow Point Tim Hortons along Highway 19A, according to police.

Things escalated when officers boxed his car in with their cruisers — police shot Lowndes multiple times after he fatally stabbed police service dog Gator. A police officer, the dog’s handler, was also injured during the ordeal.

“He (Lowndes) went to climb out the passenger side; unfortunately, he grabbed the police canine, which is treated as an officer and stabbed that dog, and they shot him at that time,” one witness told CHEK News at the scene.

But in a subsequent interview, family members suggested Lowndes, father to two little girls, may have been trying to protect his puppy that was in the car with him.

“[The police dog] was jumping through his window, and I think he was trying to defend his puppy and himself, and once he killed that dog, they opened fire,” said the girls’ aunt Fay Blaney.

The family also said Lowndes’ experiences as an Indigenous man explain why he would have fled from police in the first place, as highlighted in an essay he wrote just a week before his death.

With an investigation by the Independent Investigation Office (IIO) still underway, around 40 people and 10 vehicles took to the streets last Friday in support of Lowndes, blocking various intersections along the way, Campbell River RCMP says.

In a Facebook post, the group says it’s calling for police to be defunded, dismantled and abolished, an end to “gatekeeping” by the IIO and an immediate halt to the “use and abuse of police dogs.”

“The demonstrators were unwilling to work with police and occupied both laneways, which caused significant traffic congestion. Several frustrated motorists made efforts to physically intervene,” RCMP said in a news release.

Once at the detachment, police say protesters placed large six-foot signs at the front door as “loudhailers were used to express displeasures” and “derogatory comments were directed toward police and staff.”

Profanities were also allegedly painted across the parking lot, as well as graphic imagery at the door, according to RCMP, who say “several people” felt unsafe approaching the detachment. 

“The RCMP respects the rights of individuals to peaceful, lawful and safe protest, and we are committed to facilitating a dialogue between all parties,” police added. “With that said, we also respect the right that the public should feel safe while they access police resources.”

Campbell River RCMP says it’s investigating any criminal aspects of the demonstration and asks anyone with video, photos or information to call 250-286-6221. To remain anonymous, tipsters can reach out to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online here.

-With files from CHEK’s Dean Stoltz and April Lawrence.

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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