This hurts so much that I don’t even want to write about it. I’m tempted instead to bury my head in the snow, or a blanket fort, and turn off the internet. I’m sure this is a relatable feeling. I ask myself: is this a good time to open the floodgates of rage? Sigh. I just wanted to chill out tonight.
Thank-you to all those who showed up on the steps of the courthouse on Friday night. I’m sure some of you probably just wanted to chill out that night too. But a pain is felt throughout the city, and beyond, that is softened by the presence of your protest—a voice that shouts in support of survivors, proving that some of us know: this is not what justice looks like.
To all of you, whose fire, rage, compassion, or empathy brought you to the courthouse to demand better, I extend my gratitude. To anyone, like myself, who felt they couldn’t quite leave the house, or who asked themselves if they were ready to let this reality seep in just yet, it’s okay to bury your head if you need to for a while. The fight is long and rest is resistance too.
To the woman who showed the courage and resiliency to take this case to the court, thank-you. I am sorry that the odds were stacked against you. This verdict does not discredit you. You are important. I support you. I’m hurting with you, and fighting alongside you.
To the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, I hope you take your commitment to protect and serve this city seriously. I hope it means something to you to act in good faith toward the people you police. You have a choice to make. Post-verdict protests on February 24 and February 27 suggest that Const. Snelgrove has broken the community’s trust.
The force now has an opportunity to begin rebuilding that trust, with women and with survivors of sexual violence. You owe it to the people you serve, to those over whom you are granted power, to prove that you understand why Snelgrove should never again wear a uniform that signals a position of authority over anyone.
Please think critically about the behaviours you accept and normalise within the police force. Snelgrove picked up a 21-year-old intoxicated citizen who needed a safe ride home. Without calling in the task, he drove her home and accepted a drunken invite inside. He then, either knowingly raped her or he thought it was appropriate to sodomise her, on the job, based on what he says he thought was sufficient consent, despite his position of authority over her, his sobriety, and her intoxication. Do you want to signal to the rest of the force, and the city counting on you to protect us, that you condone such behaviour—that you’re paying your officers for this shit?
For the record, I believe he knowingly raped her. But I don’t think you need to believe he knowingly raped her to understand how troubling this is, and to recognise that he must no longer carry a badge. Even if you believe that he thought it was consensual, it should be pretty clear that he acted upon a distressingly insufficient understanding of consent—definitely not one which should pass as acceptable among someone in a position of authority and trust.