Canadian News

CBC News quietly edits article about car break-in that anti-police activist said was 'white supremacy'

CBC News has edited out language from a story about an anti-police activist's car getting broken into that she spun into an act of 'white supremacy.' The activist did not report the crime to police.

Mia Cathell The Post Millennial
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CBC News has edited out language from a story about an anti-police activist's car getting broken into that she spun into an act of 'white supremacy.' The activist did not report the crime to police.

Ciann Wilson, a member of the African, Caribbean and Black Network of Waterloo Region, believes that the car break-in was "intimidation intended to discourage her advocacy work."

The professor at Wilfrid Laurier University attributes the incident to her activism in the "Defund the Police" movement. No corroborating evidence was submitted to law enforcement, because she felt that "racialized communities do not always feel safe reporting incidents to police."

Earlier this month, Wilson allegedly awoke to her car rummaged through. Personal documents, papers and mail were scattered; however, nothing appeared to have been stolen, Wilson stated.

"On Saturday I woke up to find my car had been rummaged through the night prior, and someone's fit bit was left by the driver-side door of my partner's vehicle. Vocal BIPOC leaders are being surveilled by spineless cowards hell-bent on invoking white terror and fear - KKK style," Wilson wrote on Sept. 10.

After posting about the experience on social media from her since-deleted Twitter account, Wilson claimed that other vocal minority leaders have shared similar experiences. Some reportedly mentioned stalking including strangers watching, following, and loitering around their homes.

But when CBC News reached out to these several sources, "[t]hey declined to comment on the record, citing concerns about their personal safety and the safety of their families."

Waterloo Regional Police called the details of the posts "very concerning."

"We find the details to be disturbing and unacceptable to both our Service and the entire community," the statement read. "We will be reaching out to the authors of the posts to encourage them to report the incidents if they have not already done so."

Frankie Condon, a teacher at the University of Waterloo, told CBC News that "white supremacist groups" were responsible here, intending to "try to scare and silence BIPOC people."

"The more worried people in position of power and privilege are about the loss of that power and privilege, the more likely they are to turn to violence or the threat of violence to preserve their social standing," Condon said.

Selam Debs, who is an anti-racism educator and advocate in the region, commented: "We understand fundamentally that our wellbeing is at risk when we do this work," said Debs.

"What happens to so many racialized people, whether it's receiving threats online, or what's happening with the Indigenous land back camp in Victoria park, is that there is a constant presence of white supremacy perspectives and ideology," Debs continued.

Quillette's Jonathan Kay cited this instance under the well-known conspiracy-theory genre called "gang stalking," in which every occurrence is twisted into a sign of systemic hatred. Kay pointed out how Wilson's Twitter thread "shows how easily BLM/critical race theory can be co-opted into generic gang-stalking conspiracism."

The New York Times reported on this phenomenon, a "growing tribe of troubled minds" in the "United States of Paranoia." Reporters spoke to Susan Clancy, a Harvard-trained psychologist, who articulated the difficulty in dissuading patients who have latched onto beliefs that they think explain their delusions.

“I think it’s a need for meaning and a need to understand your life and the problems you’re having,” Clancy said. “You’re not some meaningless nobody. You’re being followed by the C.I.A.”

The behaviour shares a trait with religion: to abandon the notion would be life upending.

At the article's conclusion, CBC News included the disclaimer: "For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of."

Kay reflected on CBC's determination to share the experiences of Black Canadians "to convince black readers that they live in Nordic Rhodesia." He questioned if a quota is set for the number of these inclusive stories. "I can't think of another explanation for this train wreck getting published," Kay added.

Then Kay exposed CBC for editing the most egregious quotes out of the poorly-sourced piece. Screenshots revealed that Wilson had stated on record: "We know what happens when white settlers feel threatened."

"There has been a long history of white supremacy and extremism in Kitchener-Waterloo," CBC News quoted Condon before deleting the remark.

The abstract was also altered from a narrative-driven one liner, "Advocates say more needs to be done to protect racialized communities," to a general summary, "Incidents have left leaders worried about their safety."

Under clarifications, CBC wrote: "This story has been edited from the original version published, in order to better reflect CBC Journalistic Standards and Practices."

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