Stacy Bonds on police abuse: listen and marvel

The make-up artist abused by Ottawa police may become a hero

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Would anybody blame Stacy Bonds—the Ottawa theatrical makeup artist who was arrested for no good reason by the city’s police, then abused in custody in the most outrageous manner—if she suspected the fact that she’s black influenced her mistreatment? Would anybody think Bonds, 27, was out of line if she roundly denounced the cops?

Yet in her first interview since this episode came to light, she does neither. “I don’t want to make it into a big black-white issue,” she tells the Ottawa Citizen’s Gary Dimmock. “I think it’s more an issue of questioning authority and I’d like to tell people don’t be afraid to ask police questions.”

To those angry at police in general on her behalf, Bonds offers this more balanced thought: “People do need to know that police do abuse their power, and people need to speak out. But there are a lot of great cops out there, too, and people need to know that.”

For anyone who isn’t up on the story, these measured words come from a woman who was questioned by police as she was walking home from a party a couple of years ago, and when she asked why she had been stopped, was arrested. Down at the station, they pulled her hair, kneed her in the back, cut off her clothes, and left her half naked in a cell for hours.

A judge who saw security videotape of the ordeal called what he saw an “indignity,” noted that Bonds showed no sign of violence or aggression, and tossed out the absurd charges against her. Ottawa Police Chief Vern White has called the sordid incident appalling. The officers involved are being investigated by a provincial government agency.

Bonds seems reticent about the spotlight, which is, of course, fine. She didn’t choose to be a public figure. But if she keeps talking in the dignified, admirable way she does in today’s Citizen story, we might have no choice but to make her a bit of hero.