Advertisement
News

Why Are People Defending a Politician Who Incited Race-Based Murder?

Ben Kautz seems to have gotten a free pass for his awful comments following the shooting death of Colten Boushie, a 22-year-old Indigenous man.

by Manisha Krishnan
Aug 22 2016, 8:28pm

Colten Boushie's brother William Boushie speaks at a rally outside of Saskatchewan Provincial Court. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards

UPDATE: Ben Kautz resigned his position as a councillor Monday night.

Ben Kautz, a councillor for the rural community of Browning, Saskatchewan, should probably be out of a job right now.

Kautz has made headlines for his racist public reaction to the murder of Colten Boushie, a 22-year-old Indigenous man who was allegedly shot to death by white farmer Gerald Stanley, 54.

When he was killed, Boushie, who is from the Red Pheasant First Nation, and four other people had driven onto Stanley's property in Glenside, Saskatchewan because, according to Boushie's cousin who was in the car at the time, they were seeking help with a flat tire.

Boushie's death has sparked a heated dialogue about racism in the community, with First Nations leaders denouncing the prejudice wording of the RCMP press release about the incident, which implied that Boushie and his friends were suspected of theft. While many people are weighing in, Kautz wrote this particularly disturbing message on a Facebook page for farmers:

"In my mind, his only mistake was leaving witnesses."

The implication is that Stanley should have killed those who were with Boushie at the time he was shot. Let that sink in. A white politician, weighing in on a racially-charged murder investigation in which a white man allegedly shot an Indigenous man to death, lamented the fact that there weren't more victims.

Read more: Tensions Run High at Court Appearance of Suspect Charged with Killing an Indigenous Man on Saskatchewan Farm

Kautz has deleted his remarks but has yet to explain himself publicly. (He did not respond to VICE's interview request.)

While his comments are horrific, the fact that people are actually jumping in to defend him is almost as bad. Speaking to the Canadian Press, his wife Dawn said her husband regrets the post and has offered his resignation.

"My husband removed his comment.... I wish we could just leave it at that," she said.

But she also attempted to justify his words by saying the family farm has been robbed of tools and gas. What the hell does that have to do with anything?

There is no evidence that Boushie or those who were with him the day he was killed had stolen anything. The RCMP arrested and released three people in the car with Boushie in relation to their theft investigation. But even so, since when does being a burglary victim make it OK to cosign murder?

Meanwhile, fellow councillor Brian Forwald has said Kautz should keep his council seat and also alluded that farmers who've been stolen from get their "dander up."

"I think everybody says something sometimes that they regret 10 seconds after... I don't think you're human if you haven't," he said.

Pius Loustel, the area's reeve (or leader) said Kautz's comments will be subject to an upcoming meeting, but he refused to condemn the statement or suggest that Kautz should lose his position.

Compare this to the backlash Black Lives Matter Toronto co-founder Yusra Khogali faced over a tweet of hers that said "Plz Allah give me strength to not cuss/kill these men and white folks out here today. Plz plz plz." Khogali was called out by virtually every major news outlet.

Speaking to CP24, Toronto Mayor John Tory said, "We do not make these kinds of implied threats of violence and things like that. It's not a part of how we do business and never should be."

Khogali's tweet was old—it was posted in February and dug up by Conservative Toronto Sun columnist Jerry Agar in April, following BLMTO's two-week protest outside police quarters. According to an op-ed in the Toronto Star, Khogali said she'd been frustrated after being "bombarded by tweets from white men asking me to prove that racism, Islamophobia and misogyny exist." She said her words were used against her to delegitimize BLMTO's concerns about systemic racism in policing.

Kautz's views are far more difficult to comprehend. He's referring to an open murder investigation, with which he has no involvement, and is inciting more violence. His position as a publicly elected official makes it all that much worse. And yet, so far at least, the blowback doesn't seem to be even a fraction of what Khogali and BLMTO experienced.

We'll have to wait to find out what Kautz's fate will be. But those making excuses for him, enforcing a culture where blatant racism goes unchallenged, are as much a part of the problem as he is.

Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.