Drive-by protest of violent Barrie, Ont. arrest
BARRIE, ONT. -- Drivers of about 15 vehicles laid on their horns outside Barrie Police headquarters Saturday in protest.
The drive-by demonstration was organized to show community outrage over the violent arrest of 20-year-old Skyler Kent downtown last week.
In a widely-circulated bystander video, a Barrie Police officer struggles on the ground with Kent and holds what appears to be a stun gun while threatening to "light [him] up." The video appears to show the officer hitting Kent on the head with the device as he continues to hold him to the ground.
The officer involved has been assigned to other duties pending an investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police requested by Barrie Police.
"I think it's really important that we get the message out that we demand a lot better from our police force," organizer Michael Spears told participants Saturday.
The caravan of vehicles, marked with words like "train kindness" and "no police brutality", rolled from the Allandale Recreation Centre to police headquarters.
"I'm here just to kind of be a visible presence and not let the momentum die," said demonstrator Sarah Tilley. "I think that if we're going to change things in this town, or anywhere, and we're going to hold people accountable, it needs to be a continued effort."
Skyler Kent's arrest didn't sit right with Patrick Degagner, who participated in the rally with his daughter.
"There's no need for the violence that we saw in the video...poor guy was probably terrified and didn't know what was going on and didn't deserve the violence that was put upon him," Degagner said
Skyler Kent has said he rode his skateboard through a red light at Barrie's Five Points on Feb. 4. That's when police pulled him over.
Kent said it took 20 to 30 minutes for police to issue him a ticket, and when they did, he skateboarded away, calling the officers names as he left.
"After I left with the ticket, he put the lights on again," he said. "I tried to keep going because I figured he can't pull me over twice in a row like that, and then he slams on the brakes after getting in front of me, and I ran into the back of him."
That's when Kent said the incident that was caught on video began.
"I was resisting, but I wasn't trying to fight him. There was no part of me that was trying to hit him or hurt him.
I just didn't understand why I was being arrested for something that was a traffic violation," he said.
Kent also admitted he was arguing with police, "I'm not gonna act like I didn't have a mouth on me," he said.
Police charged Kent with causing a disturbance and assault with an attempt to resist arrest. He was released with a promise to appear and an undertaking.