Archive for the ‘Starlight Tours’ Category

Starlight Tours Synthesis and Commentary

Posted: December 1, 2011 by gossal91 in Starlight Tours

Starlight tours is a term used to describe a police practice whereby police officers pick up individuals – usually first nation citizens – in urban settings, drive them to remote rural areas, and drop them off, regardless of freezing temperatures. This practice has taken place in and around Saskatoon. The police allegedly do this because they are frustrated with the First Nations men who constantly are under the influence and instead of booking them they find it easier to just drop them off in a secluded area without shelter or any regard for how cold the temperature is. This practice can result in individuals freezing to death. Essentially, Sakej Henderson who teaches native law argues that starlight tours emerged as an alternative to taking people into custody, and therefore a way to avoid paperwork and court processes. These “starlight tours” usually took place at around anywhere between 12am-3am in the early morning. There is no agreed-upon record of how many incidents there were in total but, native leaders said that they have received over 250 calls about being on ‘tours’ . So far, there have been 76 reported cases of First Nations men being dropped off and two deaths because of the Starlight tours. Starlight tours are an example of police corruption because, the police are abusing their power by using disciplinary matters which is dropping off the native men in the cold to “discipline” them. Starlight tours draw a link between the tours and systemic racism and make a connection with the “Dirty Harry” phenomenon and the police officers.

Lawrence Wagner was last seen by people in downtown running on the streets causing a disturbance to the citizens in downtown as he was doped up on cocaine. Later that night, a man saw Lawrence Wegner getting into an argument with a police officer and was put into the police car and drove away. That was the last time Lawrence was seen alive and was found dead on the outskirts of Saskatoon. Another death that resulted from the Starlight tours was seventeen year-old Neil Stonechild who disappeared from his family about three or four blocks away from his mother’s home. Three days later, he was found frozen to death about eight kilometers from where he was seen in downtown Saskatoon just by his mothers house. No one noticed that he had gashes on his wrist and plenty of scrapes on his face and the fact that he was missing a shoe. The police did not follow through with this investigation and police stated that “He had died from a misadventure” because he was out drunk walking. Neil was known to police and the fact that his mother wanted answers the police ignored Neil’s mother because she was Native. Sixteen year-old Jason Roy was a witness to the brutal beating that Neil Stonechild took from the alleged police officers. After Neil’s death, the Native community gossiped and rumors speculated that the Saskatoon police officers were dropping off Native men in cold, deserted areas of Saskatoon and left to die. After January 2000, with two more native men found frozen to death, the Native community finally realized that the starlight tours were becoming more believable. The two Native men whose deaths caused speculations was Lloyd Dustyhorn, age 53 who was found frozen to death in Saskatoon. The other Native man was Rodney Naistus, age 25, who was also found frozen to death without a shirt on in the southwest industrial area of Saskatoon. Oddly enough Lawerene Wegner was also found frozen to death in the same exact area as Rodney Naistus in the southwest industrial region of Saskatoon. These deaths brought a lot of attention to the Saskatoon police department and the Native community wanted answers to these tragic deaths.

A huge breakthrough into the Starlight tours case was when Darrell Night who was a Native man who survived and was a victim of the starlight tours. The night that Darrell was picked up by the officers was -20 C which is extremely cold. He was wearing a jean jacket but was not wearing any gloves or even a hat. On Feb.4, 2000 Darrell Night alleges that the police officers through him out of the police car and left him in the cold for dead. Night identified the two police officers as Ken Munson and Dan Hatchen who were both veteran officers who left Night in the freezing cold. Ken Munson and Dan Hatchen were both suspended with pay for admitting to dropping off Night on the outer areas of Saskatoon. On March 10,2000, Ken Munson and Dan Hatchen were charged of forcible confinement and the assault of Darrell Night and on Sept 20th, 2001, they were both found guilty. After a lengthy investigation by the RCMP into the Darrell Night case, on March 13, 2003 Dan Hatchen and Ken Munson were sentenced to eight months at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre. The sentencing of Munson and Hatchen brought some justice and peace to the aboriginal community but it was still not enough justice that the aboriginals wanted. The Stonechild case was not brought to justice and the police officers who left Stonechild in the cold were not found by investigators. Keith Jarvis, who was in charge of the investigation, concluded that he got no support or co-operation from Stonechild’s family and friends.  On November 12, 2004, Saskatoon police chief Russ Sabo terminates two officers, Larry Hartwig and Bradley Sager, the officers still say that they had no contact with Neil Stonechild. On November 12, 2005, Neil Stonechild’s family sues the Saskatoon police and other officers involved including Bradely Sager and Larry Hartwig.

An important key issue was that deputy police chief, Dan Wiks testified that he had miss interpreted that he told the media there was no such link between two officers and Neil Stonechild’s disappearance. Then on Sept. 1, 2004, deputy police chief Dan wiks was charged with disreputable conduct under the police act. The Stonechild inquiry found out that Wiks lied when he told the media about the link between two officers and Stonechild when in fact, Wiks had seen a summary that stated that two officers were considerable suspects in the case. This is a very important issue because, it shows a significance that even a high ranking police official can lie to the public about a serious case. Because of Wiks lying about the case, the aboriginal community of Saskatoon has lost all trust in the Saskatoon police force and if trust is lost with the law, how can the aboriginal people ever trust or believe the police ever again?

Starlight Tours are closely linked with systemic racism in the sense that the police have differentiated treatment of an ethnic group which is the aboriginals. Having said that, because the aboriginals are a different race, they are treated differently by the police and are seen differently as well. In systemic racism the police officers are using racial profiling when dealing with an aboriginal man. For example: if an aboriginal man is walking down the street, a police officer is more likely to stop and search the aboriginal man because of his racial background. Starlight tours also reflect on Punch’s theory of the “Dirty Harry” phenomenon where police use an aggressive or unruly approach when targeting native men. The police will use “tough guy” actions like, dumping off an aboriginal man in a secluded, rural area of Saskatoon to “teach” the native man a lesson. Those actions are connected to the “Dirty Harry” typology of police attitudes. As to the government report of Neil Stonechild, the Commission of Inquiry heard testimonies from 64 witnesses over 43 days. The Commission finally brought a final report to the table containing its findings and recommendations to the Minister of Justice and also to the Attorney General. The “Bad Apple” theory describes an inappropriate way that police officers act. The “Bad Apple” theory can be applied to the officers involved in the Starlight Tours because, these officers were acting inappropriately towards aboriginal men by taking them on these tours in the middle of nowhere. Also Punch’s theory on “Meat-eaters” can be applied in the sense that these officers were physically engaged in the criminal act when they were beating and dropping off these men in the freezing cold.

The main reason what makes Starlight Tours significant is how these attacks on aboriginals show a great deal of racism and prejudice. Police officers are seen in the public as protectors of society against crime, but the officers involved in the tours are not seen as “protectors of society”, they are seen as racists and untrustworthy men of the law according to the Saskatoon aboriginal community. The significance is that even members of the law such as police officers can be racist and bend the rules just like any other citizen. The Starlight Tours portray these officers as untrustworthy and unworthy people because of their action. So how can the aboriginal community in Saskatoon ever trust the police after what they have done to their people? Since the Starlight Tours we should be concerned about our police force in the sense that, we should have faith in them and in their job. For example, after hearing the tragic deaths of the Starlight Tours, if a cop ever arrested me and put me in the back of the wagon, I would think twice to where they were actually taking me since I am a minority. These tours have brought a major interest to what really goes on when police are alone with a suspect and what they can do to that suspect without anyone knowing. Canada is portrayed to be a multicultural diverse country where any culture around the world can come and live without facing any oppression or racism, but in fact Canada is not merely close to that. Aboriginals in general have faced the most racism and discrimination towards their culture and these Starlight Tours are a perfect example of discrimination and prejudice. Systemic racism poses the most concern because this was the type of racism that was used towards the aboriginal victims in the tours. It is a terrifying reality of systemic racism because; it was institutionalized in the Saskatoon police force that all aboriginal men are drug and alcohol users so they must be punished more severely than non-aboriginal people. This shows that the police officers that were involved in the tours such as, Ken Munson and Dan Hatchen have no moral judgement or a lack of moral judgement towards the aboriginal community; this is called the “Back Stage Theory” which is one of Maurice Punch’s theories about police officers.

Many issues and questions have risen since the Starlight tours. The main unresolved question that is lingering around the Neil Stonechild case is who is accountable for Neil Stonechild’s death? Could Larry Hartwig and Bradley Senger be accountable for Stonechild’s death since they were the ones who had the last contact with Stonechild? There is very little evidence that these two officers were involved in Stonechilds death, so should the Saskatoon police department be accountable for Stonechild’s death? In the case of Darrell Knight, Ken Munson and Dan Hatchen only received an 8 month sentence but only served 4 months out of the 8. Why didn’t Hatchen and Munson get a more severe punishment and why did they only get to serve half of their sentence? Was this because they were police officers and they have the blue code of silence? These are some of the questions rising from the Starlight tours epidemic. One of the lessons learned from the Starlight Tours is that police can abuse their power to the extent of killing another person because of their judgments to other races. Also the fact that, systemic racism even occurs in the police force where people think that the police force would be the last place for any form of racism. The Starlight Tours does show us an awareness of police deviance and accountability in the sense that anyone, even the police can be accountable for criminal or deviance acts. This topic informs our thoughts about the police and if they can ever be trusted again after the Starlight Tours epidemic. The topic should show us a point of view that police deviance does occur in daily life and we should take this as a serious matter. Also the Starlight tours should change our thinking about police officers because they also can break the law.

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Left In The Cold To Die!

Posted: December 1, 2011 by cassy99 in Starlight Tours

The term ‘starlight tours’ refers to the practice of police taking Aboriginal citizens to the outskirts of a city and leaving them there in the freezing winter nights with instructions to walk home. There have been more than 80 victims affected by the starlight tours, all Aboriginal citizens. One of the first starlight tours happened in Winnipeg, Manitoba during the winter of 1971. The victim was 19-year-old Helen Betty Osborne. She was brought to a field outside the city of Winnipeg and was left there to die by police. All of the Aboriginal citizens that were affected by this were wearing very little clothing when abandoned in the snow far from home. Since the temperatures in Saskatchewan and Manitoba can go down to -40 in the winter, the chance of their survival was very slim; this has resulted in a number of men and women succumbing to hypothermia. The federation wants to inquire how the justice system treats Aboriginals citizens. The federation of Saskatchewan has said that this is a clear proof of systemic racism. Since this practice only affected the Aboriginal citizens. Officers being involved in these drives shows a lack of moral judgment and respect for the public which they are suppose to protect.  In these incidents, the police alleged that the victims were known to drink and do drugs, and some police feel that it is their duty to remove them from the streets. Quite a few white people do drugs and drink a substantial amount of alcohol, and there are no articles about a white person been taking on the drive. The starlight tours are still happening in Winnipeg, and the latest one reported was in 2008. There might be even more tours that have happened since then, but none have been reported.

This video explains the ordeal of an Aboriginal man that was taken on the star light tour; fortunately like Darrel Knight he survived. Alexus talks about how the police picked him up, and put him in the back of the police car. Later the police brought Alexus to the out skirts of Saskatoon, took his jacket and shoes then left him in the cold. He was lucky that a couple drove past him and offered him a ride back to town. Alexus was a very fortunate young man because he had survived even though left in the snow by the police.

Many Aboriginal men and women were affected by the Starlight tours this was discussed in the documentary “Two Worlds Colliding”. It discusses the fate of several young aboriginal men from the Prairie Provinces who were taken on starlight tours by police. The men mentioned in the documentary were Rodney Naistus, Lawrence Wegner, Neil Stonechild and Darrell Knight. Neil Stonechild seventeen was found on the outskirts of Saskatoon in a remote field. He died from hypothermia, and was partially clothed with only one shoe on. The police had stated that Stonechild had died when he was walking from a convenience store to the correctional center to turn himself in for a break and enter. If that was the way Stonechild died there is no possible way his body would have been found so far out of the city unless he was taken there.  Both Lawrence Wegner and Rodney Naistus were found deceased in the snow, their deaths resulting from hypothermia. The chief of Winnipeg police, Dave Scott, told reporters that the three incidents were not related. He was later fired. When the new police chief, Sabo, took over he conducted his own investigation and found out that there had been ‘drop offs’ (Starlight Tours) taking place in Canada since the 1970s. Although they later denied it, officers Craig Hartwig and Brad Senger were witnessed having Stonechild in their custody. Chief Sabo fired both men from the force on November 12, 2004. The deaths of Lawrence Wegner and Rodney Naistus remain unsolved. There is a time line of the deaths of these men and of the ordeal that Darrell Knight had to endure.

This video explains how the Starlight tours affected Darrell Knight, and what happened to him on that freezing January night. Out of the four only Darrell Knight survived to tell his story, and was able to identify the police officers who left him that cold January night. Knight made it to a power station, and from there he was able to get a lift back to the city. The two officers involved were Ken Munson and Dan Hatchen. Both officers only received four months in jail and were fired from the force.

The page for CBC.ca discusses the poisoned relationship between the police and First Nations communities in Canada. This article goes on to say that indeed aboriginals were brought to the outside of Saskatoon on a freezing night. February is known to be the coldest month in the Prairie Provinces. Also in this article they talk to Greg, an aboriginal who was lucky to have survived the starlight tour he was taken on three different “tours”. Greg says that the police told him that he can cool down his temper and to sober up while he walks home; it took Greg seven hours to walk home in -22 degree weather. When asked about this incident the police chief in responded” I would ask first that you have confidence in me as the chief of police and leader of this police service”. The only punishment that these two officers received was a suspension.

Recent articles have stated that here in B.C. the starlight tours benefited the serial killer Robert Pickton. Since the police were trying to take the sex workers off the street, they took some of them on starlight tours, leaving them either in a dark area or at the edge of town. That is how Pickton found several Aboriginal women, who he then took them to his farm and killed them.  Pickton got the women to trust him, and the women probably thought that he was going to help them out; unfortunately the women surcame to a tragic ending. The police have said that it was not their intention to make the situation more dangerous for the women. By leaving any women in the middle of nowhere or in a dark area how did the police ever come to the conclusion that these women were not going to be in danger. Even though it was not their intention it still caused many deaths, and this type of solution to the problem of the Vancouver sex trade should not have been an option the police to take. In the Richmond review it talks about how police abuse made prostitutes an easy prey for Pickton. An article in Politics Canada from the 26th October, 2011 argues that the police objective in these cases was to get sex workers ‘out of sight’ of residential areas. The inquiry into the role of the Vancouver Police and RCMP in the Pickton case is ongoing.

Maurice Punch (2009), in his book Police Corruption, discusses the difference between the ‘bad apples’, rotten barrels, and rotten orchards metaphors for police corruption. The concept of bad apples describes the inappropriate way individual police officers will behave. The starlight tour is a perfect example of bad apples in policing because this involves individual officers in the force who were taking aboriginal citizens on these drives. That was Maurice Punch’s theory, but the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations feel differently about individual being deviant. They see it more as systematic racism because it is only Aboriginal citizens that were taken on these tours, and are dying for no good reason. Also when convicted of preforming  this practice the police officers involved receive only minor sentences. The jury of these cases are usually all white, as they were in the Darrell Knight trial where the officers got eight months,but only served four of them. Therefore to them it looks more like the system in a whole is involved, and trying to cover up what is happening.   This was not a formally sanctioned policing practice. This was a practice that was not performed by the whole police force, but by individual officers. Punch also mentions the “backstage area” of the institution, “the hidden transcripts” used by police, their attitudes and feelings towards their job, also the moral judgments the officers have about the public. Officers being involved in these drives shows a lack of moral judgment and respect for the public which they are suppose to protect.

John Van Maanen, in his article “The Asshole” (1978), discusses street justice where police officers take it upon themselves to apply justice on the street, as they see fit in a given situation. Most of the time when police apply street justice they usually just ruff up the person involved and/or arrest with conditions, but when the person of Aboriginal race they are taken on the tour or drive. By bringing the aboriginal citizens on the tour or drive the police officers are displaying a form of street justice by taking certain people off the street who they think should not be there.  In these incidents, the police alleged that the victims were known to drink and do drugs, and some police feel that it is their duty to remove them from the streets. If the police felt that these specific people should not be on the street because they were involved in drugs and alcohol, then the police officers should have arrested the aboriginal citizens involved, and not automatically hand them a death sentence. Quite a few white people do drugs and drink a substantial amount of alcohol, and there are no articles about a white person been taking on the drive. You never hear of an incident where an Aboriginal citizen being arrested of drinking and driving, but you do hear about others races that do get arrested for drinking and driving.

There is not much media coverage, scholarly journals or information on this topic and that is because not many Aboriginal citizens will come forward to tell their story. When looking up the Starlight tours on the internet articles that appeared are about starlight concerts, houses for sell in Saskatchewan, and news about a Lady Gaga concert. There needs to be more information and awareness on this topic for everyone to understand what is happening to these innocent people. When you do find articles on the Starlight tours they are mostly about Neil Stonechild, even though, many young men and women have died on the tours. Even when looking for pictures most of the pictures are of Neil Stonechild, and maybe one or two of Darrell Knight. Not many people know that this practice is happening because there is not much information. Besides Stonechild all the other cases that ended in an Aboriginal citizen dying of hypothermia. Well of course they died of hypothermia anyone would if they were left in the middle of nowhere partially clothed. What I see is that all the courts were looking at was what these innocent people died from, but not why they died or even how they got so far away from the city. To think that these tours are still happening since it was found that it benefitted Robert Pickton. When is anyone going to be held accountable for the death of all these people? Darrell Knight came forward because one police officer believed him. Maybe no one is coming forward because they probably think that being Aboriginal citizens no one will believe what happened to them and who inflicted the pain upon them. More people need to come forward with their experiences not only to get justice, but to increase public awareness of this problem. The police are engaging mostly in street justice, by taking care of situations the way they see fit without taking the situation to a higher person. The Aboriginal citizens never got a chance to defend their actions, instead were sentenced to death. This practice also deals with racism, seeing that this has never happened to a person that is white. The police have to be held accountable for their actions without it being covered up by the system.

The Freezing cold air of Saskatoon

Posted: November 19, 2011 by gossal91 in Starlight Tours

Starlight tours is a term used to describe a police practice whereby police officers pick up individuals – usually first nation citizens – in urban settings, drive them to remote rural areas, and drop them off, regardless of freezing temperatures. This practice has taken place in and around Saskatoon. The police allegedly do this because they are frustrated with the First Nations men who constantly are under the influence and instead of booking them they find it easier to just drop them off in a secluded area without shelter or any regard for how cold the temperature is. So far, there have been 76 reported cases of First Nations men being dropped off and two deaths because of the Starlight tours according to http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/aboriginals/starlighttours.html . Starlight tours are an example of police corruption because, the police are abusing their power by using disciplinary matters which is dropping off the native men in the cold to “discipline” them.

Lawrence Wagner was last seen by people in downtown running on the streets causing a disturbance to the citizens in downtown as he was doped up on cocaine. Later that night, a man saw Lawrence Wegner getting into an argument with a police officer and was put into the police car and drove away. That was the last time Lawrence was seen alive and was found dead on the outskirts of Saskatoon. Another death that resulted from the Starlight tours was seventeen year-old Neil Stonechild who disappeared from his family about three or four blocks away from his mothers home. Three days later, he was found frozen to death about eight kilometres from where he was seen in downtown Saskatoon just by his mothers house. No one noticed that he had gashes on his wrist and plenty of scrapes on his face and the fact that he was missing a shoe. The police did not follow through with this investigation and police stated that “He had died from a misadventure” because he was out drunk walking. Neil was known to police and the fact that his mother wanted answers the police ignored Neil’s mother because she was Native. Sixteen year-old Jason Roy was a witness to the brutal beating that Neil Stonehouse took from the alleged police officers. After Neil’s death, the Native community gossiped and rumours speculated that the Saskatoon police officers were dropping off Native men in cold, deserted areas of Saskatoon and left to die. After January 2000, with two more native men found frozen to death, the Native community finally realized that the starlight tours were becoming more believable. The two Native men whose deaths caused speculations was Lloyd Dustyhorn, age 53 who was found frozen to death in Saskatoon. The other Native man was Rodney Naistus, age 25, who was also found frozen to death without a shirt on in the southwest industrial area of Saskatoon. Oddly enough Lawerene Wegner was also found frozen to death in the same exact area as Rodney Naistus in the southwest industrial region of Saskatoon. These deaths brought a lot of attention to the Saskatoon police department and the Native community wanted answers to these tragic deaths.

A huge breakthrough into the Starlight tours case was when Darrell Night who was a Native man who survived and was a victim of the starlight tours. The night that Darrell was picked up by the officers was -20 C which is extremely cold. He was wearing a jean jacket but was not wearing any gloves or even a hat. On Feb.4, 2000 Darrell Night alleges that the police officers through him out of the police car and left him in the cold for dead. Night identified the two police officers as Ken Munson and Dan Hatchen who were both veteran officers who left Night in the freezing cold. Ken Munson and Dan Hatchen were both suspended with pay for admitting to dropping off Night on the outer areas of Saskatoon. On March 10,2000, Ken Munson and Dan Hatchen were charged of forcible confinement and the assault of Darrell Night and on Sept 20th, 2001, they were both found guilty. After a lengthy investigation by the RCMP into the Darrell Night case, on March 13, 2003 Dan Hatchen and Ken Munson were sentenced to eight months at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre. The sentencing of Munson and Hatchen brought some justice and peace to the aboriginal community but it was still not enough justice that the aboriginals wanted. The Stonechild case was not brought to justice and the police officers who left Stonechild in the cold were not found by investigators. Keith Jarvis, who was in charge of the investigation, concluded that he got no support or co-operation from Stonechild’s family and friends.  On November 12, 2004, Saskatoon police chief Russ Sabo terminates two officers, Larry Hartwig and Bradley Sager, the officers still say that they had no contact with Neil Stonechild. On November 12, 2005, Neil Stonechild’s family sues the Saskatoon police and other officers involved including Bradely Sager and Larry Hartwig.

Starlight Tours are closely linked with systemic racisim in the sense that the police have differentiated treatment of a racialized group which is the aboriginals. Having said that, because the aborignals are a different race, they are treated differently by the police and are seen differently as well. In systemic racism the police officers are using racial profiling when dealing with an aboriginal man. For example: if an aborginal man is walking down the street, a police officer is more likely to stop and search the aboriginal man because of his racial background. Starlight tours also reflects on Punch’s theory of the “Dirty Harry” phenomenon where police use an aggressive or unruly approach when targeting native men. The police will use “tough guy” actions like, dumping off an aboriginal man in a secluded, rural area of Saskatoon to “teach” the native man a lesson. Those actions are connected to the “Dirty Harry”  typology of police attitudes. As to the government report of Neil Stonechild, the Commission of Inquiry heard testimonies from 64 witnesses over 43 days. The Commission finally brought a final report to the table containing its findings and recommendations to the Minister of Justice and also to the Attorney General.

Since February 3, 2000, which was the last reported death from the Starlight tours which was Lawrenece Wegner there has not been any other reports of Native men being dropped off outside in the cold. But that still does not mean that the tours have stopped, it only means that that was the last reported tour. I wouldn’t doubt the fact that tours still might be going on unreported. Other than that there hasn’t been any significant improvement in the Starlight tours for the simple reason that, aboriginals are not treated with respect from other Canadians and are seen as “lower class” people which is wrong since Canada is supposed to be the most multicultural and accepting country of all nationalities.

Refrences:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/story/2007/03/27/hatchen-munson.html

http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/aboriginals/starlighttours.html

http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/stonechild/timeline.html

http://www.thebukowskiagency.com/Starlight%20Tour.htm

Left to Die!

Posted: November 4, 2011 by cassy99 in Starlight Tours
Tags: ,

Starlight tours are a Canadian police practice that involves arresting aboriginal citizens in urban areas, transporting them to remote rural locations (usually at night), and releasing them with instructions to fend for themselves. Evan Maud told investigators how he was taken on a tour. The majority of the time this practice is carried out in the winter, and this has resulted in a number of men and women succumbing to hypothermia.

Maurice Punch (2009), in his book Police Corruption, discusses the difference between the ‘bad apples’, rotten barrels, and rotten orchards metaphors for police corruption. The concept of bad apples describes the inappropriate way individual police officers will behave. The starlight tour is a perfect example of bad apples in policing because this involves individual officers in the force who were taking aboriginal citizens on these drives. This was not a formally sanctioned policing practice. Punch also mentions the “backstage area” of the institution, “the hidden transcripts” used by police, their attitudes and feelings towards their job, also the moral judgments the officers have about the public. Officers being involved in these drives shows a lack of moral judgment and respect for the public which they are suppose to protect.

John Van Maanen, in his article “The Asshole” (1978), discusses street justice where police officers take it upon themselves to apply justice on the street, as they see fit in a given situation. By bringing the aboriginal citizens on the tour or drive the police officers are displaying a form of street justice by taking certain people off the street who they think should not be there. In these incidents, the police alleged that the victims were known to drink and do drugs, and some police feel that it is their duty to remove them from the streets. Quite a few white people do drugs and drink a substantial amount of alcohol, and there are no articles about a white person been taking on the drive.

Recent articles have stated that here in B.C. the starlight tours benefited Robert Pickton. Since the police were trying to take the sex workers off the street, they took some of them on starlight tours, leaving them either in a dark area or at the edge of town. That is how Pickton found several women, who he then took them to his farm and killed them. The police have said that it was not their intention to make the situation more dangerous for the women. Even though it was not their intention it still caused many deaths, and this type of solution to the problem of the Vancouver sex trade should not have been an option the police to take. In the Richmond review it talks about how police abuse made prostitutes an easy prey for Pickton. An article in Politics Canada from the 26th October, 2011 argues that the police objective in these cases was to get sex workers ‘out of sight’ of residential areas, and that they had bad attitudes and used the wrong tactics to achieve this. The inquiry into the role of the Vancouver Police and RCMP in the Pickton case is ongoing.

The documentary “Two Worlds Colliding” discusses the fate of several young aboriginal men from the prairie provinces who were taken on starlight tours by police. The men mentioned in the documentary were Rodney Naistus,  Lawrence Wegner, Neil Stonechild and Darrell Knight. Out of the four only Darrell Knight survived to tell his story, and was able to identify the police officers who left him that cold January night. Knight made it to a power station, and from there he was able to get a lift back to the city. The two officers involved were Ken Munson and Dan Hatchen. Both officers only received four months in jail and were fired from the force. Both Lawrence Wegner and Rodney Naistus were found deceased in the snow, their deaths resulting from hypothermia. The chief of Winnipeg police, Dave Scott, told reporters that the three incidents were not related. He was later fired. When the new police chief, Sabo, took over he conducted his own investigation and found out that there had been ‘drop offs’ (Starlight Tours) taking place in Canada since the 1970s. Although they later denied it, officers Craig Hartwig and Brad Senger were witnessed having Stonechild in their custody. Chief Sabo fired both men from the force on November 12, 2004. The deaths of Lawrence Wegner and Rodney Naistus remain unsolved. There is a time line of the deaths of these men and of the ordeal that Darrell Knight had to endure.

More people need to come forward with their experiences not only to get justice, but to increase public awareness of this problem.

Starlight Tours

Posted: October 6, 2011 by gossal91 in Starlight Tours

“Starlight Tours”, also called “Ride in the country” or “scenic tours”, occur when police officers drive aboriginal men who are under the influence out to the middle of nowhere and tell them to sober up and walk back home  (http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/aboriginals/starlighttours.html). This practice can result in individuals freezing to death. Starlight tours mainly take place in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where temperatures can drop well below freezing, especially in the middle of the night. The RCMP usually drop off these aboriginal men in the middle of the night so no one will be able to see them. After conducting some preliminary research on this topic, I believe that the reason that RCMP members engage in this practice is to illustrate their power and to teach the men a lesson. Sakej Henderson, who teaches native law, states that “starlight tours grew out of police frustration at dealing with repeat offenders and they weren’t all sinister. Indians avoided jail and police avoided a paper headache”(http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/aboriginals/starlighttours.html). Essentially, Henderson argues that starlight tours emerged as an alternative to taking people into custody, and therefore a way to avoid paperwork and court processes. These “starlight tours” usuallly took place at around anywhere between 12am-3am in the early morning. There is no agreed-upon record of  how many incidents there were in total but, native leaders said that they have received over 250 calls about being on ‘tours’ (http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/aboriginals/starlighttours.html). My preliminary research has not revealed whether or not this practice is ongoing, but  I believe that the increased awareness of tours may make them less likely to occur.

The citizens of Saskatoon always had speculations of this type of deviance and thought it was a myth until one aboriginal man named Greg came forward and said that he had been a victim of this practice before (http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/aboriginals/starlighttours.html). Greg stated that he had been on four starlight tours in his life. The CBC interviewer asked Greg why he didn’t make a complaint to the police and Greg answered back saying, “If I’d launched a complaint, in my mind, it would never have went anywhere. It was just. It’s the same thing: it’s police investigating police; they’re a brotherhood” (http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/aboriginals/starlighttours.html).  The Saskatoon RCMP chief Dave Scott suspended two RCMP officers who were involved in the Starlight Tours drop-offs but chief Scott still cannot make a connection to the two dead aboriginal men.

A web search for ‘Starlight Tours’ returned 6, 400, 000 results. The types of websites that came up included  CBC News, Wikipedia, aptn.ca, youtube and the bukowskiagency.com. Most of the content and information was recent and only dated back until 2004. CBC.ca is the first web link that shows up in the search on the first page. It is a reliable source of information on the Starlight Tours. CBC.ca is media based information which gives a wide grasp of the topic. CBC.ca gives their own analysis on the story and follows up by interviewing the victims and asking the victims questions on what had happened to them. The second web link that appears is wikipedia.org right under CBC.ca. Wikipedia starts off by giving a definition of “Starlight Tours” and a brief summary of the story. Wikipedia does not go into too much depth in the story as it only gives a brief summary in the beginning paragraph and a section for pop-culture which inspired the movie “First Blood”. The third web link is an aboriginal based web-site which is www.aptn.ca. Aptn.ca contains a video link that shows one victim who spoke to reporters that he had been taken by the RCMP and dumped at the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. Under the video link is a synopsis explaining what is in the video. Another website called www.doubletounged.org gives a broader definition of Starlight Tours. The main source of information is basically structured by the media and gives the most knowledge on the topic.

The Starlight Tours

Posted: October 5, 2011 by cassy99 in Starlight Tours

The starlight tours refers to thepractice of  police taking Aboriginals to the outskirts of the city, and leaving them there in the freezing winter nights with instructions to walk home. This is known as a starlight tours or drive. There have been more than 80 victims affected by the starlight tours, all aboriginal citizens. These tours were happening in Winnipeg and Saskatchewan.

One of the first starlight tours happened in Winnipeg, Manitoba during the winter of 1971. The victim was 19-year-old Helen Betty Osborne she was brought to a field outside the city of Winnipeg, and was left there to die by police. It took 16 years for the officers involved to go to trail. All of the aboriginals affected by this were wearing very little clothing when abandoned in the snow far from home. For example, two men that I know about  are Neil Stonechild and Darryl Night. At the time that they were abandoned they were wearing only a t-shirt, jeans, running shoes and a jean jacket. Since the temperatures in Saskatchewan and Manitoba could go down to -40 in the winter, the chance of their survival was very slim. The starlight tours are still happening in Winnipeg,and the latest one reported was in 2008. There might be even more tours that have happened since then, but none have been reported.

It was a bit difficult finding many articles on the starlight tours. When you do a Google search articles that are posted about the starlight tours are mostly about Neil Stonechild. Some other articles that appeared were about starlight concerts, houses for sell in Saskatchewan, and news about a Lady Gaga concert. There needs to be more information and awareness on this topic for everyone to understand what is happening to these innocent people.

When you do a Google search for the starlight tours or drive the search will include articles from CBC.ca, CBC news in-depth, Wikipedia, WPG police operating starlight tours: study, and more.  Each article provides information about certain aspects of the starlight tours. For instance, when you click on the page for CBC.ca it will tell you about the poisoning relationship between the aboriginals and the police. This article goes on to say that indeed aboriginals were brought to the outside of town on a freezing night. February is known to be the coldest month in the prairie provinces. Also in this article they talk to Greg, an aboriginal who was lucky to have survived the starlight tour he was taken on three different “tours”. Greg says that the police told him that he can cool down his temper and to sober up while he walks home, it took Greg seven hours to walk home in -22 degree weather. When asked about this incident The police chief in responded ” I would ask first that you have confidence in me as the chief of police and leader of this police service”. The only punishment that these two officers received was a suspension.

When looking at the Wikipedia link it gives you a description of the starlight tours. In the description given, it is a non-sanctioned police practice whereby aboriginals, usually drug addicted or homeless, are taken and abandoned outside of the town or city that they live. The case of Neil Stonechild, a seventeen year old who died of hypothermia from being abandoned in the freezing cold, is also discussed. In the Stonechild case the two officers involved were fired, and only received eight months in jail.

The final article I will be discussing at this time will be the article from the Winnipeg national news. This article says that seventy-six people were abandoned outside of their town in Winnipeg. One man says that the police told him that they are going to take him home, but when he woke up the police were taking him out of the car, and left him in the middle of nowhere. It is a form of racism. Even though men are dying the police in question are not getting harsh enough sentences for their actions.