C/O McMaster Daily News

Members of a BIPOC running group stopped by police while viewing Indigenous red dress installation

On Oct. 7, three runners from the Air Up There Run Crew were completing their weekly run when they were suddenly stopped by two police officers outside of the central Hamilton Police Station on 155 King William St.

The Air Up There Run Crew is a running group specifically for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour. The group meets every Wednesday and provides a safe space where BIPOC folks can empower themselves through running and sharing experiences amongst the group. 

That day, the group had slowed down during their run to look at red dresses that were draped on trees outside of the station. The red dresses are meant to raise awareness about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, symbolizing the number of disappearances that have been occurring over many years. 

The runners decided to take some pictures and record videos of the installation before continuing on their run. As they were about to resume their run, that is when they were stopped from doing so by two police officers.

They were told that the police were responding to reports of suspicious activity in front of the station. A spokesperson for Hamilton police told CBC News that the officers were flagged down by a citizen who reported the group for suspicious activity outside of the station.

One of the runners, Mohamad Bsat, took to Twitter to write about his frustration regarding the issue. Bsat had asked the police if they were detaining the group and the officers said no. 

“What suspicious activity, two brown people and a black person looking at an art exhibit. It shook us to our core . . . We left. Angry, confused, belittled and dehumanized. They infiltrated our BIPOC run,” wrote Bsat. 

“What suspicious activity, two brown people and a black person looking at an art exhibit. It shook us to our core . . . We left. Angry, confused, belittled and dehumanized. They infiltrated our BIPOC run,” wrote Bsat. 

Following the incident, when he spoke to a police representative, Bsat was told the service would not issue an apology. Instead, they directed him to file a complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, which handles complaints about police in Ontario, or ask for the officer’s supervisor to speak with them about the interaction. Bsat has now filed a complaint with the OIPRD. 

Along with the complaint, Bsat refers to this incident as a part of a greater battle against systemic racism and advocates to defund the police.

“These streets are as much ours as any resident. We will not let the system hold us down . . . We were the victims of racial profiling because a culture of systemic racism and oppression exists within the Hamilton policing institution. This is not an American problem. This is #hamont.” 

“These streets are as much ours as any resident. We will not let the system hold us down . . . We were the victims of racial profiling because a culture of systemic racism and oppression exists within the Hamilton policing institution. This is not an American problem. This is #hamont.” 

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