THUNDER BAY - The woman who shared a video to social media showing what appears to be a member of the Thunder Bay Police Service striking an Indigenous youth said her goal was to raise awareness about what happens in the city and how people respond to it.
“That’s the whole reason I posted it,” Latisha Hardy said. “I knew for a fact that people would be outraged by this entire thing and I wanted people to react the way they did.”
Hardy posted the video to Facebook on Saturday night, with a slightly longer version posted on Sunday. It has since gone viral and has been viewed more than 230,000 times.
In the 21-second clip, an officer with the Thunder Bay Police Service appears to strike an individual lying on a gurney, and is heard shouting: “you do not spit on me.” It was later revealed that the individual on the gurney is a 17-year-old youth from the Nibinamik First Nation and a student at the Matawa Learning Centre.
The video has generated national media attention and Nishawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief, Alvin Fiddler, expressed outrage over the officer's actions. Numerous people have also been commenting to social media on the video and Hardy said she was expecting it to cause a strong reaction in the community, in both a negative and positive way.
“I’ve had a lot of negative feedback,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of people message me saying she deserved to be hit the way she did because of the way she was acting. And I’ve had people message me about how disturbed they were about the video and how heartbreaking it was to see a youth be hit.”
Following the incident, Hardy said the youth has been experiencing a lot of anxiety over what happened and she posted the video on behalf of the youth because she “didn’t want to be targeted in the future.”
“She was telling me that she was really unsure about the entire thing and she was really upset with the comments being made about her because she didn’t deserve anything that happened to her, so she was really upset about the entire thing, and that is one of the reasons she didn’t want to post the video herself, because of this backlash that happened,” Hardy said.
Hardy said she is not able to provide any details about the circumstances of that night or why the youth required medical attention.
But whatever the circumstances were, Hardy firmly believes that the actions of the officer were out of line, and she said she wants something to be done with the local police service.
“I want them to realize that it’s not okay to hit our youth or anybody for that matter,” she said. “I want people to understand that no matter what happened, no matter what she did, or what she didn’t do, it’s not okay to assault someone because you got angry with what they’ve done.”
“These people are professionals and are trained to deal with situations like this, so assaulting someone because of their actions is not okay. That’s what people need to realize.”
For Hardy, the situation is very discouraging, both the incident and the negative feedback it has received from the community. And while she hopes by sharing the video some kind of change will happen, she said she understands that things like this can sometimes fade into memory.
“I believe it’s going to be a topic of conversation for a while, but in the long run, I don’t think anything is going to change unless the majority want it to change and I don’t see that happening any time soon with all the comments that have been made about the video,” Hardy said.