How to Get Off Fossil Fuels Quickly—and Fairly

Climate experts share a range of ideas and strategies for envisioning a better future.

When it comes to a just transition, it’s going to take a radical reimaging not only of our economy but also of our culture and the shape of our social structures. YES! co-hosted a conversation with experts from the nonprofit The Land Institute to discuss policy proposals and new ways to rebuild our sense of self and community from the bottom up.

The discussion was prompted by a new book, The Green New Deal and Beyond, by Stan Cox, the Land Institute’s lead scientist for perennial crops. He was joined by his colleagues, Director of Ecosphere Studies Aubrey Streit Krug, and President Emeritus Wes Jackson. The event was moderated by YES! contributing editor Robert Jensen.

Together they share a range of ideas and strategies for envisioning a better future.

The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

ROBERT JENSEN: I would propose that the most important word in the title of your book, Stan, is “beyond.” We know the Green New Deal is not a fully fleshed out political program yet, but why do we need to go beyond it?

STAN COX: The Green New Deal is just a vision at this point. It’s really two things: There’s the “new deal” part and the “green” part. The “new deal” part is pretty good with its provisions for job and income guarantees, for economic justice and racial justice, and for Indigenous rights and workers’ rights.

The “green” part of the Green New Deal, in contrast, is inadequate to the point of being self-defeating. If you look at the joint congressional resolution from last year, it calls for the elimination of greenhouse emissions in various sectors of the economy as much as is technologically feasible. It doesn’t say how to do it or how much is actually going to be eliminated. Taking that approach to say “Let’s see how far technology and a big industrial initiative can take us in resolving the climate emergency” is far from enough.

There appears to be an underlying assumption that building up wind and solar energy and green infrastructure—this big, industrial initiative that they’re talking about—will be enough working through the market to drive fossil fuels out of the economy. But history, analysis, and research show us that’s not the way things work. New sources of energy in a growing economy simply add to the total energy supply. They don’t displace the older sources of energy as long as those are available.

Care work—education, health care, parenting—is really important to any social movement and change.

What I’m proposing in The Green New Deal and Beyond is a direct, secure, statutory elimination of fossil fuels involving a national cap on the number of tons of coal, cubic feet of gas, barrels of oil that can be brought out of the ground and into the economy in a given year, with that cap ratcheting down year by year in equal increments until the deadline, at which point fossil fuels are completely out of the economy. “Cap and Adapt” is what we call it.

If we get serious about getting rid of fossil fuels, we’re going to be living with a declining energy supply. The thing that we have to guarantee is fair access to the necessities of life for everyone—what you might call “sufficiency for all and overconsumption for none.”

This will be where the economic justice provisions of the Green New Deal become even more important. Marginalized and front-line communities, before the pandemic, were already feeling all the negative impacts of unchecked economic growth. Now they are suffering some of the worst effects of both the pandemic and the chaotic degrowth that we’re experiencing now.

JENSEN: We live in a society that doesn’t deal well with the idea of limits. Aubrey spends a lot of her work thinking about what a stable, decent human society that can live within limits means. Can you describe the work you’re doing?

AUBREY STREIT KRUG: The Ecosphere Studies program at The Land Institute is investigating how to co-create just communities and the kind of social and cultural arrangements that are necessary to create these stable human futures, beginning with work in agriculture.

These biophysical realities that Stan is outlining here—ecological limits, what is needed, and the pace of change that’s needed in order to make a just transition—these realities spark an emotional response for most people. I think that recognizing and naming that is important, because often in response to this willingness to turn and face reality, we are greeted with an invitation—or sometimes a push—into thinking that we just need to care more about something. That can make us turn right back around into denial and avoidance.

Instead, what I’ve been working with is, rather than just caring more, caring more skillfully and doing the work of care.

Growth will undercut any efforts to get greenhouse emissions under control.

Care work—education, health care, parenting—is really important to any social movement and change. Feminist economists have written a lot about this. Disability justice scholars have contributed some really important work here. Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, in her book Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice, writes about how the work of community and the idea of community isn’t just a magic unicorn, an answer you can put on anything and it just solves it: “We just need community!” Instead, community is work. It involves ongoing effort and negotiation and webs of relationship and care.

When I think about the change that needs to happen, I think about our need for social and cultural arrangements that actually value care work. It is not valued or recognized in our current economy, especially due to the fact that primarily women and girls or Black and Indigenous people of color are the ones who are performing most care work. If we were able to begin to figure out how to value care work, that would be part of a radical reorientation toward justice, and it would also be building the kind of social capacity we need to start and sustain change.

Caring for each other and for the more-than-human world—the places and plants and co-inhabitants of our lives—is integral to not only sustaining where we are now and surviving, but also making the work of transition happen. It’s how we stay alive now and how we get to where we want to go.

JENSEN: I really like that distinction between caring about and caring for—that you can care about something, but the real work of the world is caring for it. It is work. We know that’s not going to happen overnight. Wes, your work has always taken a kind of long timeframe. Can you talk about why what Stan and Aubrey are talking about can be so difficult sometimes?

WES JACKSON: There are going to have to be a lot of changes, and I think we’re on the early stage of some of those changes right now.

At the eastern end of the Mediterranean, some 10,000 years ago, the greatest group of revolutionaries to ever live began to give us our crops and livestock. We started that journey into agriculture. We found out ways to get the highly dense carbon along the way. We end up with an industrial economy, and we become, increasingly, a species out of context.

When we started The Land Institute in 1976, the limits to growth was right up there in front for our considerations. It wasn’t that many years ago, sitting with people in high places, when I said we’ve got to have a cap and then rationing, I heard the same old sentence: “Good luck on that one.”

But if we could get that cap, then we will have fewer decisions to make. We’ll have easier decisions to make.

JENSEN: That concept of a species out of context is really central—the recognition that we are now living in arrangements that we did not evolve in, that we aren’t evolved for this. Hence, the idea that we’ll never get it right.

COX: The reason that addressing climate change has been so difficult for the past three-plus decades is that every single time there have been proposals for seriously addressing climate change, they have been rejected or gutted because of the very real worry that they would undercut economic growth and wealth accumulation. That was, of course, very unacceptable to world leaders and business leaders. But there’s really no effective way to cut emissions down to zero that is not going to affect growth, and that needs to be accepted.

The joint congressional resolution on the Green New Deal is silent on the subject of growth, but as it’s been conceived, the Green New Deal is nothing if not an economic stimulus plan. We will really have to be careful in implementing something like that, that it not exacerbate the problems being caused by growth.

Truly sustainable agriculture is absolutely fundamental.

As we come out the other side of the pandemic, whenever that is, returning to endless growth is going to be the top priority for business and government. Some form of the Green New Deal is already being talked about as a way to stimulate that growth. Growth lies at the root of the very problem that we’re trying to solve. If we, say, achieve 3% annual GDP growth, which everybody talks about needing, then in 25 years, the economy has doubled the size it is now. Any hope of either cutting emissions or of generating enough wind and solar electricity to run something like that, there’s just no way that it can be done.

Growth will undercut any efforts to get greenhouse emissions under control. The good thing is, I think Americans may finally be willing to consider something like this. In the past couple of months, maybe 3/4 of our population has accepted the fact that when faced with a dire existential emergency like the coronavirus, people were willing to set growth and profit-making aside and do what has to be done. I think once people can be convinced that in the long term, the climate emergency is even more dire, and that we’ve experienced what it’s like to reduce dramatically our footprint on the Earth, people may be willing again to do it.

JENSEN: In addition to the large-scale policy, can you tell us a bit about what kind of work is going on on the ground, Aubrey?

KRUG: I’m often asked about what kind of actions might be productive for people to take or, again, how to make this work feel real or connect with people. I tend to think about that in two directions. The first is the work of building a path forward, figuring out what to carry forward.  The other direction is the figuring out of what you need to leave behind.

First, in the work of building a path forward, truly sustainable agriculture is absolutely fundamental—to be able to feed ourselves for the long term. The Land Institute’s plant breeders and ecologists are working to breed and domesticate new perennial grain, oilseed, and legume crops that will allow communities to feed themselves. We’re thinking about domestication as a form of ongoing mutualistic relationship. People have to be aware of them in the first place, and then they have to come to value them.

Then there’s the looking back, to determine what we leave behind and how. It’s been really helpful for me to think about not only what I want to learn, but about what I want to unlearn. I recently started working with one of my collaborators on a piece about why it might be especially important for White women to do the work of unlearning—unlearning different structures and ways of participating in systems of domination. From my own position, I could say that it might be really important for some humans together to realize that what we thought we knew is not working, and then to collectively and skillfully figure out how to let go of those things.

I think about the work artists and writers and activists and people, especially in Native communities, are doing right now to advance a collective unlearning of everything the fossil fuel industry has tried to teach us. That feels like a very active letting go and figuring out how we can leave behind, rather than stay within, those systems that we’re trying to move forward.

I think that framework of unlearning might be useful to people as they look in their own lives and communities and networks for opportunities to become involved on the ground.

JENSEN: There’s been a theme here about learning and unlearning, moving forward, but also looking to the past. Wes, as someone from Kansas who grew up on a farm, you’ve seen the countryside depopulated in your lifetime. You’ve seen a culture say to people, “All the action is in the cities. If you want to make something of yourself, go to the city.” You’ve started to talk about the need to repopulate the countryside, to reclaim skills that were once common in a low-energy world. Can you talk a bit about your thinking about what the future is really going to look like when we start moving toward a future that doesn’t rely on fossil fuels?

JACKSON: This is an extremely exciting time to be alive, and it’s also a very dangerous time. Look at the good things that have come from this period of human history: We now know of our origins coming after a Big Bang. We know about the cosmos, and we know that it’s possible to understand Darwinian evolution.

I think we are at a pivot point, and we’ve got to begin a new journey. I think it’s possible, but it starts with something like care and something like putting a cap on carbon and figuring out how we are going to be from now on, knowing there’ll be a lot of changes.

We are going to have to resettle a lot of the small towns and rural communities, not as a matter of nostalgia, but as a practical necessity, partly because that’s who we are. We’ve got to begin a huge rethinking of what it means to be Homo sapiens.

We’re left with the question: “What’s to become of us?”

Watch the video of this conversation here

BREANNA DRAXLER is the climate editor at YES! She covers all things environmental.

Will Alberta be the buffalo in the federation’s china shop?

How Industry Has Weaponized BC’s Courts

Wet’suwet’en arrests for defying injunction ended pipeline blockades — but no charges were ever laid.

RCMP officers dismantled Wet’suwet’en camps and detained Freda Huson (Howilhkat) and others based on an injunction obtained by Coastal GasLink. Photo by Amanda Follet Hosgood.

our months after 22 people were arrested for blocking a pipeline in Wet’suwet’en territory, the BC Prosecution Services dropped all charges against the Wet’suwet’en and their supporters on June 5.

But others are questioning whether those arrests should have been made at all and concerned that courts are too quick to “rubber stamp” industry requests for injunctions to stop Indigenous Peoples from exercising their rights.

In B.C., where industrial interests frequently clash with Indigenous title, standoffs are often dealt with by applying to courts for injunctions to quickly eliminate First Nations’ resistance — a practice some say puts too much power in the hands of corporations.

Martin Peters, counsel for the 22 people charged on Wet’suwet’en territory, is one of them.

“In British Columbia, the courts have been very quick to support industry,” says Peters. “The ease by which those orders have been granted, even in the face of an understanding that there are Aboriginal land claim issues at stake, and the further ease by which the RCMP was able to go out and enforce those issues, is troubling.”

Once an injunction is in place, anyone who disobeys the order can be arrested. The Crown has the option to convert a civil contempt case to criminal contempt if prosecutors feel the violation disrespects the courts.

The arrests on Morice road occurred over five days in early February as RCMP enforced an injunction granted to Coastal GasLink. It barred anyone from blocking work along the remote forestry road that provides access to a portion of the pipeline route south of Smithers. The 670-kilometre pipeline is being built to deliver fracked gas from northeast B.C. to an LNG processing plant in Kitimat and is opposed by Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.

Lawyers for Coastal GasLink referred questions to the company. A company spokesperson did not respond to emails from The Tyee.

Peters also represents 14 supporters who were arrested Feb. 24 while blocking rail lines in Hazelton. The Crown has not made a decision about whether it will go ahead with criminal charges against the group, although CN Rail appears ready to proceed with a civil lawsuit. The case is back before the court this week.

The Wet’suwet’en and supporters had gone through a similar process once already. The B.C. Supreme Court granted an interim, or temporary, injunction to Coastal GasLink on Dec. 14, 2018, that barred anyone from blocking access to the route. On Jan. 7, 2019, RCMP removed barricades and arrested 14 people. Crown prosecutors did not proceed with criminal charges, citing lack of evidence, and the civil case was later abandoned.

In December, one year after the interim injunction was granted, the B.C. Supreme Court approved the pipeline company’s request for permanent access to the area. That led to renewed blockades, the RCMP creation of an “arbitrary” exclusion zone and the 22 arrests.

RCMP said the exclusion zone, which limited access even for members of the Wet’suwet’en, was needed to ensure safety.

But Peters says the result was “a police state that was being created in the Wet’suwet’en territory with no basis in law whatsoever.”

The RCMP began enforcing the injunction in the early morning hours of Feb. 6. Over the next four days heavily armed officers in military fatigues dismantled camps and arrested the 22 people.

Eve Saint was one of those arrested on day two of the police action; her father, Frank Alec, is Hereditary Chief Woos of the Gidimt’en clan.

“They came in really aggressively with 100 RCMP, completely armed, and tactical teams and helicopters dropping RCMP behind us, just for four Indigenous, unarmed land defenders,” she says. “I mean, that’s my father’s territory. Just being criminalized for being on your land — it’s big frustration for sure. It’s heartbreaking.”

Peters says the Supreme Court of Canada’s landmark Delgamuukw-Gisday’way decision, which affirmed Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan land title in 1997, has not found a place in B.C. law, especially when it comes to granting injunctions.

In a Dec. 31 decision granting Coastal GasLink access to the pipeline route, Justice Marguerite Church leaned heavily on economic arguments and, despite the Delgamuukw-Gisday’way decision, said “the Aboriginal title claims of the Wet’suwet’en remain outstanding and have not been resolved either by litigation or negotiation.”

Peters sees it differently.

“I mean, this is their land. The hereditary chiefs did not give Coastal GasLink permission to build that pipeline or even come onto their territory,” Peters says. “The unfortunate position of the Supreme Court of British Columbia is appearing to rubber stamp an injunction order any time an industry feels that they might be losing money because of an Aboriginal protest.”

Injunctions have a long history in fighting protests

Injunctions were used as a tool to shut down protest when nearly 1,000 people were arrested in logging protests at Clayoquot Sound in the early 1990s.

But according to a report released in November by Ryerson University’s Yellowhead Institute, the practice dates back much further.

The study looked at more than 100 injunction cases nationwide involving First Nations going back as far as the 1950s. It found that injunction applications against industry and government by Indigenous groups had an 18.5 per cent success rate. By comparison, 76 per cent of injunctions filed against First Nations were granted.

The report concludes that “the courts expect First Nations to commit to lengthy, costly litigation to secure protection for their lands and waters. But companies can more or less get injunctions if there is any whiff of economic loss.”

Lawyer and Kwantlen Polytechnic University criminology instructor Irina Cerić says injunctions are used in other provinces.

But there’s a stronger judicial culture of using them in B.C., she says.

Injunction requests are usually filed in conjunction with a civil lawsuit, with companies arguing that the injunctions are needed to protect their interests and prevent damage while a case is before the courts.

But Cerić says it’s become common for lawsuits to be filed simply to justify injunctions.

“For the most part, they’re not real lawsuits. They’re a means to an injunction,” she says. “What that does is speed up this process by which a private corporation can go to court and say ‘Give us a court order’ that then puts them in the driver’s seat of what happens next. It takes what’s really a public conflict and makes it a private form of conflict resolution.”

Cerić says she doesn’t advocate using either criminal law or police to deal with protests.

“When you have a blockade that’s non-violent, it’s a situation that can be approached through non-law-enforcement means,” she says. Negotiation or changes to the permitting process to ensure First Nations accept projects are alternatives.

Injunctions favour the status quo, she said, and are often granted based on which side in the dispute stands to suffer more harm while waiting for a civil lawsuit to be resolved.

In the past Indigenous groups have successfully used injunctions to prevent unwanted activities, like logging, on their territories. They argued the work would do greater damage to their interests, while companies could cope with delay.

But Cerić says that changed in the early 1990s, around the time of the B.C. Supreme Court’s 1991 Delgamuukw decision, which found that most Indigenous title in B.C. had been extinguished when the former colony joined Confederation in 1871.

That decision was later overturned in the groundbreaking Supreme Court of Canada Delgamuukw-Gisday’way decision.

But Cerić says it marked the end of injunctions being granted to First Nations to protect land.

Courts and corporations replacing lawmakers

Andrew Gage, a staff lawyer with West Coast Environmental Law, says these types of injunctions essentially constitute law-making.

“It is not what injunctions were intended for. It’s going beyond the usual role of the court,” he says. “It puts both the companies and the protestors and, really, the courts in a somewhat awkward position of being before the court in an adversarial process where the real beef of the protestors is against the law and the government for having put that law in place.”

In February, the province obtained an injunction against unnamed people protesting the Wet’suwet’en arrests at the B.C. legislature. The order, which gives discretion to police to remove and arrest anyone blocking access to the building, is not limited to the Wet’suwet’en conflict and remains in place for an indefinite period, Gage says.

“That sounds a lot like lawmaking as opposed to a dispute between Wet’suwet’en protestors and the legislature,” he says.

SLAPP suits and injunctions

Civil lawsuits filed against protestors have been compared to SLAPP suits or “strategic lawsuits against public participation” — the controversial practice of corporations silencing opponents by threatening legal action.

In 2014, multinational pipeline company Kinder Morgan brought a multi-million-dollar civil suit against five protestors it said were attempting to intimidate workers at its Burnaby Mountain site. Four defendants settled with the company but Alan Dutton, a retired university professor, called the case a SLAPP suit and attempted to have it thrown out. He was unsuccessful.

At the time, there was no anti-SLAPP legislation in Canada. A law to prevent the practice was passed by the B.C. legislature in 2001, only to be repealed several months later when the BC Liberals formed government.

B.C. passed the anti-SLAPP Protection of Public Participation Act last year, joining Ontario and Quebec in laws aiming to prevent the use of lawsuits to silence critics or curb protests.

The act has yet to be interpreted or applied in the courts, says Meghan McDermott, staff counsel with the BC Civil Liberties Association.

“SLAPP suits work because it never really gets to court,” she says. “Usually people just shut up and the person suing them, the corporation or government, never has to make the case to the judge. They know that when they file it, so it’s basically just a tactic to silence people and it’s a disingenuous one that we think abuses the court system.”

SLAPP suits differ from injunctions in that one intends to silence while the other moves people out of the way. What they have in common is the ability to quell protest.

According to Peters, CN Rail’s claim for unspecified damages against unnamed protestors blocking rail lines in Hazelton “absolutely” constitutes a SLAPP suit.

On Friday, Canada’s largest rail company will share evidence with Crown council in an effort to persuade it to take over the case with criminal charges.

If the prosecution declines, it will be up to CN whether to proceed with the civil suit it filed in February.

“I don’t think there’s any realistic view that CN thinks that they’re going to claim damages against John Doe and Jane Doe, people they obviously don’t even know who they’re dealing with,” Peters says.

The courts versus the people

Molly Wickham is a Gidimt’en clan member who was among the 14 arrested when RCMP raided the camp in 2019. She was pregnant during this year’s standoff and says concerns about police action kept her away from the territory.

“Because of the history of police violence, I had to be very careful about where I was and not get arrested because I was afraid that if they arrested me that they would harm the baby,” she says.

“It’s a blatant violation and abuse of power. They’re using the RCMP and the courts against a sovereign nation, the Wet’suwet’en, but they’re also using it against the public in a way that’s not constitutional within Canada and a way that’s abusive and violating people’s rights.”  [Tyee]


Amanda Follett Hosgood  lives and writes amidst the stunning mountains and rivers of Wet’suwet’en territory. Find her on Twitter @amandajfollett.



Snapping turtles are seeking warm, sandy roadsides to lay eggs – but don’t try to help them cross the road

There are many myths about Snapping Turtles that we make an effort to dispel so people will not be discouraged to help them.

They do not have the strength in their jaws to ‘bite off fingers’ or ‘break broom handles’.

According to a study in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology from 2002, a snapping turtle’s actual jaw strength registered between 208 and 226 Newtons of force. By comparison, humans average a bite force of between 300 and 700 Newtons when we bite with our molars.

The reason they snap is because their plastron (bottom shell) is too small for them to retract into when they feel threatened. They are the only Canadian species that cannot ‘retract’ into their shell for protection. Their only measure of defence is to ‘snap’. They must be handled with caution as a measure to be prudent, not because they are ‘aggressive’ because they are not. On the roads, the public is generally encountering a gravid (egg carrying) female who is nesting. They will be a little more defensive as an act of ‘protection’. They are a docile species that when met in the water, where they spend most of their time, are actually ‘curious’ creatures who may come up and bump your ankle to investigate who/ what you are.
You simply have to respect the recommended precautions and know you are helping a species that is on the road to its extinction that we have sent them down.

Now, that’s sensational !

They have been on the planet some palaeontologists believe for more than 330 million years. They are a keystone species which is defined as a ‘species on which other species in an ecosystem largely depend, such that if it were removed the ecosystem would change drastically.’

They are your freshwater sources best ‘cleaners’ and are referred to as our freshwater‘janitors’ because of the vast amount of carrion and decaying vegetation they consume.

Remove them from your freshwater sources and those freshwater sources will implode with bacteria.

In providing this humble service, the only thing they ask in return is their survival.

They are like the rivets on an airplane wing; if you remove too many the wing falls off and you can no longer fly. That is how important their presence is to human life.

Their significance on the ladder of biodiversity cannot be overemphasized. Remove them and it would be like trying to climb a ladder that is missing rungs.

The adult reproducing females we meet nesting on the roads are worth their weight in gold to their turtle populations. They are who will contribute to the survival of their species.

If we lose just one, it will take 59 years for her to replace herself.
That is almost a human lifetime to replace just ONE !

Less than 1% of all Turtle eggs makes it to sexual maturity, mostly because of predation.

That is why it is imperative to protect the adult populations who will be the saving grace of their species.

They are on their way to extinction. Imagine on the planet for over 300 million years and in less than 50 years WE have sent them down the road to their extinction.

It seems very unfair when you think about the service they render us by keeping our freshwater sources clean because of the amount of bacteria producing carrion they consume.

Only 2.7% of the worlds water is freshwater. 20% of that is found in Ontario.
Turtles play a significant role in keeping that water-source clean.
With rising temperatures we will witness large populations that will be migrating into search of a fresh water source.

Turtles are doing their part but can we say the same about ourselves?

The main reason for the decline in their populations is habitat loss because of over development. Toronto is presently restoring 3 wetlands around the city because they realized the mistake they made in removing them. Wetlands are your water regulators in times of flood and drought. They sequester huge amounts of carbon. They are your freshwater natural filtration units.

75-80 % of the wetlands in Canada have been developed. 90% in southern Ontario.

We are most definitely creating our own demise by our irresponsibility.
Yet somehow an endangered species like turtles pay for our irresponsibility and blatant neglect.

The turtle populations need all the help we can give them.

Please peruse our Facebook page as there are a myriad of articles addressing all aspects of Turtle welfare

Please spread the awareness and share articles of interest with your Facebook friends.



Ocean acidification will be worse than expected in the Arctic

A Pathway To Peace: Ideas For A New And More Resilient Reality

Hawaii’s reopening provides the opportunity to weave positive peace and climate resilience into the fabric of a new political economy.

Just as the current global health crisis has exposed the cracks in federal and state leadership and infrastructure, so too has it accentuated warnings about environmental challenges ahead.

As author Naomi Klein recently pointed out during a Fridays for Future webinar, our “normal” was grim to begin with. Headlines about the reduction of air pollution and the return of wildlife to Venetian canals —  while giving false hope about the climate crisis — demonstrate changes that, according to a recent study, “are likely to be temporary as they do not reflect structural changes in the economic, transport or energy systems.”

What’s needed, therefore, is not a “return” to our old ways, but a recalibration of policy and economic models that will serve the interests of our communities and prioritize the local quality of life and environment over offshore profits in the post-COVID rebuild.

Positive Peace: An Essential Part Of The Recovery Process

The Institute for Climate and Peace, for which I serve as Senior Advisor and Co-Founder with Maya Soetoro and Research Assistant, Naima Moore, advances a peaceful, climate-resilient future by embracing the inherent wisdom, power, ingenuity, and voices of the communities that we serve. ICP is guided by the belief that environmental “shocks” must be met with innovative and transformative solutions that conjoin peacebuilding problem-solving methods with rigorous research of climate change to respond to climate crises, reduce friction, and build social cohesion through locally-based and culturally-appropriate responses. Our theory of change depends on the understanding that climate awareness is needed to build and maintain peace, and peace is needed to be resilient to the powerful storms on the horizon.

So, how do we build peace?

By turning to the positive peace framework, we can understand climate resilience — and resilience to shocks in general — in a new way. Research from the Institute of Economics and Peace identifies positive peace as a framework that shifts “… the focus away from the negative to the positive aspects that create the conditions for a society to flourish.” Their eight indicators include, among other things:

Taken simultaneously, these “pillars” allow us to envision a new future — one in which communities are better equipped to mitigate dangers of emergent threats and protect vulnerable populations.

COVID-19 has laid this fact bare, and it has reminded us that we need to be ever-vigilant if we want to prepare for the other crisis of the moment: climate change.

Kaaawa Road damage Kamehameha Hwy ocean level rise. global warming

Climate change is on the mind of many people, including in Hawaii, where rising seas regularly flood coastal roads. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The current moment serves as a foreboding preview of catastrophic climate events to come, and its far-reaching devastation is precisely the kind of crisis that climate experts have warned us about for years. In their model, the emergence of this sort of sudden yet predictable crisis combined with a rapid and silent acceleration is soon to become commonplace.

Research shows that climate change, often coined as a “threat multiplier,” can exacerbate inequalities in a region and disproportionately affect poorer countries or individuals, women, and marginalized communities of color. In Hawaii, it could mean greater food insecurityenvironmental degradation, and health disparities among Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander groups.

Understandably, many are looking to shift this moment into a “portal,” as Arudhati Roy called it, through which we might find a better way of being. Positive peacebuilding within our communities is the method that stands the best chance of getting us — all of us — there.

In the midst of this crisis and despite the tragedies that surround us, the communities around the world with high levels of positive peace — including social cohesion, investments in physical infrastructure, and transparent, accountable leadership — have also shown us what a successful response can look like. In this way, the necessity of positive peacebuilding work is being proven.

Makaha Mauna Lahilahi Botanical Garden Cleanup Kuʻuleilani Samson Fault Lines

Kuʻuleilani Samson cleans up an encampment on the rocky edges of Mauna Lahilahi Botanical Garden. Neighbors took it upon themselves to restore the garden which had been taken over by transients. Kuʻu Kauanoe/Civil Beat

It is the countries that often rank highest for levels of positive peace, such as New Zealand, Iceland, Canada, and Japan, that are proving to be the most prepared for this crisis. And interestingly, when the framework for peace is already in place, not only can countries respond more effectively, but a community’s unity can even be accelerated. This was seen in Aceh, Indonesia, where a 30-year civil conflict was interrupted by the devastating earthquake and tsunami of 2004. That crisis triggered a return to negotiations and a peaceful settlement that has lasted.

We can also see this work in our local communities today. From first responders and food banks to local schools and grocery stores, community networks and neighbors are emerging as critical parts of the safety net protecting many from a free fall into conflict or chaos. Volunteer mutual aid groups are reporting record numbers of signups, and more than a quarter of a million people responded in a single day to the UK government’s recent call for volunteers. Governments are leveraging resources to offset lost income, to provide free rent and cover tax payments, and to subsidize basic services to keep communities insulated from the worst outcomes of the crisis.

These are stepping stones on the pathway to peace, yet we must investigate and rework them to protect all rather than just some populations. And we must pay particular attention to those that have been at the bottom of an insidious racial hierarchy.

A ‘New Normal’: Hawaii’s Climate-Smart Recovery From COVID-19

Hawaii’s reopening provides the opportunity to weave positive peace and climate resilience into the fabric of a new political economy. It starts by translating climate resilience and peacebuilding into tangible, culturally-responsive processes, that allow us to not only recover from this crisis but lay the groundwork to mitigate and be resilient in the next.

Examples of this include the ʻĀina Aloha Economic Futures Declaration, which was sent to Gov. David Ige last month and is the first part of an effort to create a sustainable, pono economy based on centuries of island-based values, and the feminist economic recovery plan for Hawaii, from the Honolulu State Commission on the Status of Women, which recommends shifting away from our lopsided reliance on just two industries (tourism and the U.S. military), and focusing on sustainable economic opportunities, more access for women and Native Hawaiians to capital to promote their financial independence, midwifery, “green jobs” and other initiatives. These projects are critical in serving as a springboard for a more peaceful Hawaii, one that can indeed “bounce forward” after shocks.

Other vital initiatives could include:

      • Digitizing all government processes and providing broadband to the public, which would ensure equity and carbon savings and advance positive peace by building social cohesion and aiding the free flow of information;
      • Allocating COVID-19 response funds into immediate short-term job programs for energy efficiency, sustainable local agriculture and aquaculture technologies, and future coastline protection strategies;
      • Financing to scale up sustainable operations and recognize efficiencies that make local food more competitive with imports so that Hawaii is more self-sufficient and food secure;
      • Imposing a visitor green fee to promote local conservation efforts and enhance the visitor experience by, as Hawaii-based environmental economist, Emelia von Saltza states, “protecting the environment that our visitors and our residents rely on” and thereby instilling a more culturally grounded approach to tourism;
      • Adopting (or piloting) a four-day work week (as New Zealand and Kauai have done) to not only boost our economy and reduce emissions, but to give time back to people to build relationships with each other and their environments; and
      • Requiring hospitality services to purchase local produce and generate enough demand to spur local agriculture and ranching production.

As we work toward a new and more resilient reality, let us consider ways in which we can promote the interests and peace of our local communities and our environment, of which we are a part.  Our economic policy cannot afford to revert back to “normal,” but must instead reimagine what equitable and green social prosperity looks like in our islands.

Should we prove unable to use this moment of pause to restructure our current systems, we risk a fragile peace amidst a fragile climate in the immediate years ahead.


Maxine Burkett is a Professor of Law at the William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawaii, and a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She is a Co-Founder and Senior Advisor of the nonprofit Institute for Climate and Peace.

Naima Moore is a research Intern at the Institute for Climate and Peace. With family residing in New Zealand, Hawaii, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Tuvalu, she is committed to helping coastal communities in the South Pacific combat the effects of climate change with peace and resilience. Naima is currently a prospective law student and a graduate of Amherst College and Punahou School, and calls Honolulu, Hawaii home.

Stocks of vulnerable carbon twice as high where permafrost subsidence is factored in

A time series shows ground-ice ‘atlases’ in permafrost struggling to support the active layer as soil temperatures warm and accelerate thaw. As ice is lost, we see a significant shift in the soil surface over time, and the need to account for subsidence in measurements. Credit: Victor Leshyk, Center for Ecosystem Science and Society

New research from a team at Northern Arizona University suggests that subsidence, gradually sinking terrain caused by the loss of ice and soil mass in permafrost, is causing deeper thaw than previously thought and making vulnerable twice as much carbon as estimates that don’t account for this shifting ground. These findings, published this week in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, suggest traditional methods of permafrost thaw measurement underestimate the amount of previously-frozen carbon unlocked from warming permafrost by over 100 percent.

“Though we’ve known for a long time that  happens across the permafrost zone, this phenomenon hasn’t been systematically accounted for when we talk about thaw and  vulnerability,” said Heidi Rodenhizer, a researcher at the Center for Ecosystem Science and Society at Northern Arizona University and lead author of the study, which was co-authored by a team from NAU, Woods Hole Research Center, Instituto de Ciencias Agrarias, and Yale University. “We saw that in both warming and control environments, slight temperature increases drove significant thaw and unlocked more carbon than we saw when we weren’t looking at subsidence.”

Traditionally, permafrost thaw has been calculated by measuring active layer thickness. To do that, scientists insert a metal rod into the ground until it hits permafrost, and measure from that depth to the . However, subsidence can mask actual thaw by lowering the soil surface and changing the frame of reference; for instance, some long-term experiments that rely on measuring active layer thickness have not recorded significant changes in  depth from year to year, despite rapid temperature warming.

So Rodenhizer and her team combined subsidence with active layer measurements to discover how much the ground was sinking, and how much unlocked carbon was being missed. At their warming site near Healy, Alaska, the team used high-accuracy GPS to measure the elevation of experimental plots at six time points over nine years. At each plot, Rodenhizer and her team found that permafrost thawed deeper than the active layer thickness indicated: 19 percent in the control plots, and 49 percent in the warming plots. The amount of newly-thawed carbon within the active layer was between 37 percent and 113 percent greater.

As the Arctic warms twice as fast as the rest of the planet, these findings have potentially vast implications for global carbon fluxes. Due to the widespread nature of subsidence—about 20 percent of the permafrost zone is visibly subsided, and contains approximately 50 percent of all carbon stored in permafrost—failing to account for subsidence could lead to significant underestimates of future carbon release in global climate change projections. Rodenhizer’s team hopes that this study will convince more Arctic researchers across the permafrost monitoring network to apply this method and help change that.

“We know that these vast carbon stores in permafrost are at risk, and we have the tools to account for subsidence and track where the carbon is going,” said  researcher and senior author Ted Schuur. “We should be using everything in our toolbox to make the most accurate estimates, because so much depends on what happens to Arctic carbon.”


Innovators Under 35 2020

Cathryn Virginia

In chaotic times it can be reassuring to see so many people working toward a better world. That’s true for medical professionals fighting a pandemic and for ordinary citizens fighting for social justice. And it’s true for those among us striving to employ technology to address those problems and many others.

The 35 young innovators in these pages aren’t all working to fight a pandemic, though some are: see Omar Abudayyeh and Andreas Puschnik. And they’re not all looking to remedy social injustices though some are: see Inioluwa Deborah Raji and Mohamed Dhaouafi. But even those who aren’t tackling those specific problems are seeking ways to use technology to help people. They’re trying to solve our climate crisis, find a cure for Parkinson’s, or make drinking water available to those who are desperate for it.

We’ve been presenting our list of innovators under 35 for the past 20 years. We do it to highlight the things young innovators are working on, to show at least some of the possible directions that technology will take in the coming decade. This contest generates more than 500 nominations each year. The editors then face the task of picking 100 semifinalists to put in front of our 25 judges, who have expertise in artificial intelligence, biotechnology, software, energy, materials, and so on. With the invaluable help of these rankings, the editors pick the final list of 35.


Their innovations point toward a future with new types of batteries, solar panels, and microchips.

  • Omar Abudayyeh

    Omar AbudayyehHe’s working to use CRISPR as a covid-19 test that you could take at home.

  • Christina Boville

    Christina Boville

    She modifies enzymes to enable production of new compounds for industry.

  • Manuel Le Gallo

    Manuel Le GalloHe uses novel computer designs to make AI less power hungry.

  • Nadya Peek

    Nadia PeekShe builds novel modular machines that can do just about anything you can imagine.

  • Leila Pirhaji

    She developed an AI-based system that can identify more small molecules in a patient’s body, faster than ever before.

    Leila Pirhaji
  • Randall Jeffrey Platt

    Randall Jeffrey PlattHis recording tool provides a video of genes turning on or off.

  • Rebecca Saive

    Rebecca SaiveShe found a way to make solar panels cheaper and more efficient.

  • Venkat Viswanathan

    Venkat ViswanathanHis work on a new type of battery could make EVs much cheaper.

  • Anastasia Volkova

    Anastasia VolkovaHer platform uses remote sensing and other techniques to monitor crop health—helping farmers focus their efforts where they’re most needed.

  • Sihong Wang

    Sihong WangHis stretchable microchips promise to make all sorts of new devices possible.


Their technological innovations bust up the status quo and lead to new ways of doing business.

  • Jiwei Li

    Jiwei LiIn the last few months, Google and Facebook have both released new chatbots. Jiwei Li’s techniques are at the heart of both.

  • Atima Lui

    Atima LuiShe’s using technology to correct the cosmetics industry’s bias toward light skin.

  • Tony Pan

    Tony PanHis company revamps an old device to allow you to generate electricity in your own home.


Their innovations are leading to breakthroughs in AI, quantum computing, and medical implants.

  • Leilani Battle

    Leilani BattleHer program sifts through data faster so scientists can focus more on science.

  • Morgan Beller

    She was a key player behind the idea of a Facebook cryptocurrency.

  • Eimear Dolan

    Eimear DolanMedical implants are often thwarted as the body grows tissue to defend itself. She may have found a drug-free fix for the problem.

  • Rose Faghih

    Rose FagihHer sensor-laden wristwatch would monitor your brain states.

  • Bo Li

    Bo LiBy devising new ways to fool AI, she is making it safer.

  • Zlatko Minev

    Zlatko MinevHis discovery could reduce errors in quantum computing.

  • Miguel Modestino

    Miguel ModestinoHe is reducing the chemical industry’s carbon footprint by using AI to optimize reactions with electricity instead of heat.

  • Inioluwa Deborah Raji

    Inioluwa Deborah RajiHer research on racial bias in data used to train facial recognition systems is forcing companies to change their ways.

  • Adriana Schulz

    Adriana SchulzHer tools let anyone design products without having to understand materials science or engineering.

  • Dongjin Seo

    He is designing computer chips to seamlessly connect human brains and machines.


They’re using technology to cure diseases and make water, housing, and prosthetics available to all.

  • Mohamed Dhaouafi

    Mohamed DhaouafiHis company’s artificial limbs are not only high-functioning but cheap enough for people in low-income countries.

  • Alex Le Roux

    Alex Le RouxA massive 3D-printing project in Mexico could point the way to the future of affordable housing.

  • Katharina Volz

    Katharina VolzA loved one’s diagnosis led her to employ machine learning in the search for a Parkinson’s cure.

  • David Warsinger

    David WarsingerHis system could alleviate the drawbacks of existing desalination plants.


Their innovations lead the way to biodegradable plastics, textiles that keep you cool, and cars that “see.”

  • Ghena Alhanaee

    Ghena AlhanaeeHeavy dependence on infrastructure like oil rigs, nuclear reactors, and desalination plants can be catastrophic in a crisis. Her data-driven framework could help nations prepare.

  • Avinash Manjula Basavanna

    His biodegradable plastic protects against extreme chemicals, but heals itself using water.

  • Lili Cai

    Lili CaiShe created energy-efficient textiles to break our air-conditioning habit.

  • Gregory Ekchian

    Gregory EkchianHe invented a way to make radiation therapy for cancer safer and more effective.

  • Jennifer Glick

    If quantum computers work, what can we use them for? She’s working to figure that out.

  • Andrej Karpathy

    KarpathyHe’s employing neural networks to allow automated cars to “see.”

  • Siddharth Krishnan

    Siddharth KrishnanA tiny, powerful sensor for making disease diagnosis cheaper, faster, and easier.

  • Andreas Puschnik

    Andreas PuschnikSeeking a universal treatment for viral diseases, he might leave us much better prepared for the next pandemic.


What Would It Mean To Defund The Police?

Black activists are not saying to do away with public safety services. We are saying that our lives are worth considering a new way to provide them.

A march in Toronto, June 6, 2020. (Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

A chorus of Black activists across North America are calling for the end to police violence against our communities. This latest call comes in the wake of a wave of police killings of Black and Indigenous people, including Brampton’s D’Andre Campbell, Tla-o-qui-aht’s Chantel Moore, Metepenagiag’s Rodney Levi, Louisville’s Breonna Taylor, Minneapolis’ George Floyd, as well as the deaths of Toronto’s Regis Korchinski-Paquet and London’s Caleb Tubila Njoko.

Specific demands for change look different from city to city, but there is overwhelming consensus on one measure that is certain to improve life for Black people in Canada and the United States: defunding the police. This is an idea with a long history, but it’s still new to many people. Here are answers to some common questions.

How will we be safe if we defund the police?

Black activists are not saying that we need to do away with publicly provided safety services. Instead, we are acknowledging a very troublesome truth: at best, most police services do not keep any of us very safe. At worst, they target, brutalize and kill Black and Indigenous people. When we say Black lives matter, we are saying that our lives are worth considering a new way to provide safety and security services in our society.

Canadians spend more than $41 million per day on policing, but Statistics Canada estimates that up to 80 percent of calls for police services in Canada are non-criminal “calls for service.” That means that the police spend most of their time attending to alarms, disturbances, traffic accidents, overdoses and mental health-related issues. Most of these issues can be serviced by a civilian service or medical provider with specialized, more effective training.

Despite the lack of danger inherent in the majority of what police do, police too often use lethal force. That’s especially true if they encounter Black and Indigenous people during a call for service. D’Andre Campbell, for example, was killed in April after calling the police to help with a mental health crisis. Toronto’s Andrew Loku and Montreal’s Pierre Coriolan were both experiencing mental distress when they were killed by police officers. In Ottawa, Abdirahman Abdi was having a mental health crisis right before police officer Daniel Montison allegedly beat him to death with knuckle-plated gloves in 2016.

Surely we can provide one another safety without endangering Black people. It’s entirely possible to create an emergency mental health service to attend to the needs of someone in distress. Such a service would not involve lethal weapons, would be focused on de-escalation and public health, and has been successful in places like Oregon and Stockholm.

Defunding sounds like a drastic measure. Wouldn’t it be more reasonable to try and reform the police first?

People who are nervous about such a large shift in the way that we address safety issues in our society often ask why activists are not considering reform measures. It certainly sounds more reasonable. The problem is that reform measures have been tried—and they consistently fail.

Across Canada, there have been attempts at diversifying police, as well as providing training aimed at eliminating individually held notions of prejudice. There have been sweeping measures to change how police engage with those experiencing mental health distress, as well as the use of expensive body cameras. Unfortunately, such measures have always failed to end police-involved deaths of Black and Indigenous people. Research shows that body cameras either have no impact on whether or not a police officer is likely to use lethal force, or lead police to be more likely to use lethal force.

Police have consistently shown they are hostile to reform measures. Take, for example, accountability bodies like Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) or Quebec’s Bureau des Enquêtes Indépendantes (BEI). These are meant to be arms-length civilian bodies with the power to lay charges against officers that kill or inflict serious harm to civilians. But police often refuse to cooperate with investigations, withholding notes and declining to participate. Between 2016 and 2019, the BEI investigated 126 cases, including 71 deaths. It laid zero charges. These bodies have failed at changing how police engage with Black and Indigenous people.

I don’t want to see more of us dying. I want them to stop killing us. Reform measures simply do not work, so it’s time for a new approach. Our lives are worth it.

But who will I call to help with a burglary or sexual assault?

Let’s consider what happens currently. Police are typically responding to burglaries after they occur—not sweeping in to catch thieves in the act. You might be surprised to learn that police in Canada “clear” a shocking less than 16 percent of cases of burglary and theft, and that “clear” does not mean “solve.” It only means that a charge is laid. Right now, your insurance company is far more useful in the case of a burglary or theft than the police.

And the statistics for gender-based violence are far worse. Less than 10 percent of sexual assaults are reported to the police, and those who do report their experiences are often dismissed or mistreated.

Policing is not an effective service for either of these issues. Shouldn’t their role be reevaluated?

What will we do instead?

Police services cost Canadians $15.1 billion per year. If we were to defund the police, we could put that money into new services that would better serve our safety and security needs. We could afford to create front-line emergency services for mental health and sexual assault, along with investigation services—for murders, theft, violent crime—that do not fail as often as the police do.

And we could create safety and security services that actually serve Black and Indigenous people rather than killing us. We also deserve to have our community safety and security needs attended to, but our only option now is far too perilous. Black lives matter. We have an obligation to refuse to fund a service that treats us as though we do not.


By Sandy Hudson

Arrest raises more questions about Winnipeg police’s use-of-force tactics

Footage shows cruiser ramming suspect, leaving man with fractured elbow

A dramatic arrest on a West End street, that involved a police cruiser being used to take down a suspect who was fleeing on foot, raises new concerns about the Winnipeg Police Service’s use-of-force protocols.

The incident has been kept from public view for three weeks, amid mounting calls to defund police departments and waves of Black Lives Matter protests sweeping the continent.

The police service has not publicly disclosed the May 27 arrest — now under investigation by Manitoba’s police watchdog — in which a cruiser car struck a suspect as he fled on foot down the 700 block of Sargent Avenue.

Police have refused to release the man’s name, citing the fact the initial report that sent officers to the scene was a domestic dispute.

But the Free Press has obtained police video of the incident.


After receiving a report that a man and woman were fighting around 9:15 p.m., the police service dispatched multiple officers to the area.

Footage taken by the police helicopter shows a man walking westbound down Sargent Avenue with a woman. Police radio transmissions quickly identify the man as the suspect in the domestic dispute.

Seconds later, multiple cruiser cars arrive on scene, and the man takes off running. Two officers get out of their vehicle and chase the man.

“He might have been trying to bear-spray officers here,” a WPS member says over the police radio system. The man can be seen spraying an unknown substance in an apparent attempt to ward off officers.

As the man flees on foot, a police officer driving a cruiser car accelerates up the street against oncoming traffic and turns left toward the sidewalk. The suspect is struck by the cruiser car, which mounts the curb and drives him onto the pavement.

Police move in to arrest the suspect. He was taken to Health Sciences Centre, where he was diagnosed with a fractured elbow. Since this constitutes a “serious injury” under the Police Services Act, the Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba launched a probe.

Winnipeg police spokesman Const. Rob Carver says the force has provided full disclosure to the IIU. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Winnipeg police spokesman Const. Rob Carver says the force has provided full disclosure to the IIU. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

The WPS informed the IIU of the incident May 28. When the IIU announced its investigation into the matter June 1, it made no mention of a police cruiser striking the suspect, and only identified him as a 23-year-old man.

“The male was unco-operative and force was used to arrest him,” reads the IIU news release.

A review of the agency’s news releases indicates it’s common practice to explicitly note when it’s investigating a motor-vehicle collision. The agency also often provides information on the manner in which a suspect is alleged to have been injured by police.

The Free Press repeatedly contacted the IIU to ask if the footage was in its possession, and, if so, when it was obtained. The IIU would neither confirm nor deny it had the footage, citing its ongoing investigation.

On Friday, WPS spokesman Const. Rob Carver said the force had provided “full disclosure” to the IIU.

The suspect is charged with 15 criminal offences in connection with the incident, including four counts of assaulting a police officer.

On several occasions since the beginning of the year, the police service proactively disclosed cases in which its officers were allegedly assaulted. No news release was issued for this case.

“I have difficulty imagining a situation where ramming your car into a person as they’re running away could be justified. The police car is not a weapon, and the police are dealing with real human beings, not playing a video game.”‐ Human rights attorney Corey Shefman

When shown the video by the Free Press, two criminologists and one lawyer characterized the incident as excessive force. A second lawyer interviewed said he could see both arguments for, and against, the incident constituting excessive force.

“When police use force, it must be proportional to the threat, and it should be the minimum amount of force needed to protect and preserve life. Ramming a fleeing suspect with your car is not proportional and seems incredibly excessive,” said Corey Shefman, a human rights attorney.

“I have difficulty imagining a situation where ramming your car into a person as they’re running away could be justified. The police car is not a weapon, and the police are dealing with real human beings, not playing a video game.”

Ian Scott, a lawyer and former head of the Special Investigations Unit of Ontario (the regional counterpart to the IIU), said the video can be interpreted multiple ways.

If the officer claims they didn’t intend to hit the suspect with the cruiser car, but merely cut him off, Scott said the incident could be interpreted as an accident, rather than a use-of-force situation.

However, if it is proven the officer intended to hit the suspect with the vehicle, then the question of whether a criminal charge should be laid hinges on whether the officer’s actions were likely to cause “grievous bodily harm.”

Only if the officer intended to ram the suspect with the car, and if that decision were likely to seriously injure him, would a criminal charge against the officer be justified, Scott said.

Carver provided basic details about the case when contacted by the Free Press, but — citing the IIU probe — would not comment on how the suspect was injured or the fact he was hit by a police vehicle.

Carver said multiple officers were treated by paramedics at the scene, but none required hospitalization.

Kevin Walby, an associate professor of criminology at the University of Winnipeg, said the video shows the WPS violate the “1+1 rule,” which states police can only escalate the use-of-force continuum in proportion to the level of threat they face.

While bear spray — if it’s proven in court that’s what the suspect had on him — constitutes a threat to officers, Walby said it’s not a lethal threat, and it’s possible the suspect could have been killed when hit by the car.

“In terms of the bigger picture, is this how we want to respond to transgression in our society? A group of folks with cars running people down. Or can we do better? Can we devise different kinds of teams that can respond without running people down or shooting them?” Walby said.

The video has come to light at a time when calls to reform police departments ring loud in the ears of politicians and law enforcement officials across the continent.

It also comes on the heels of the controversial arrest of Flinn Nolan Dorian, a 33-year-old Indigenous man, last week. Footage of the arrest was posted to social media, sparking outrage from some Winnipeggers and support from others.

Winnipeg officers kicked Dorian twice, repeatedly kneed him, and punched him seven times during a scuffle in the Exchange District on June 11. Police had been called to the scene regarding a man breaking into a commercial building, destroying property, and brandishing a handgun.

The handgun was later determined to be a replica airsoft pistol. Police said he was also armed with a knife and metal bar, which justified the officers’ response.

Dorian has been charged with multiple criminal offences in connection with the incident. The allegations against him have not been proven in court.

Video of the arrest sparked condemnation from Arlen Dumas, grand chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, and David Chartrand, president of the Manitoba Metis Federation.

On Tuesday, Winnipeg Liberal MP Dan Vandal told a federal committee that racism and police bias in Winnipeg have hardly changed since the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry (1989-1991), which was held in response to the fatal shooting of J.J. Harper.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the Free Press that provincial governments must play a role in stamping out police brutality. He said he plans to raise the issue of systemic racism in policing during his weekly phone call with premiers.

Police use-of-force protocols, and the broader role law enforcement officers play in communities, has come under fire in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, by Minneapolis police on May 25.

Floyd’s death resulted in Black Lives Matter protests across North America, including a June 5 rally in Winnipeg in which 15,000 people took part.

A second demonstration, in honour of Eishia Hudson, a 16-year-old Indigenous female shot to death by police in April after allegedly robbing a liquor store and fleeing in a stolen vehicle, was scheduled for Friday evening. Hudson was one of three Indigenous people fatally shot by Winnipeg police officers within a 10-day period that month.

The question of whether the officer in the May 27 case will be cleared of wrongdoing by the IIU will likely not be known for some time. It can take more than a year for IIU investigations to be closed.


Ryan Thorpe

Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head. Twitter: @rk_thorpe

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