Featured Image
An RCMP officer restrains a high school student during a February 10 school walkout.Screenshot

STEINBACH, Manitoba (LifeSiteNews) — Video footage of police officers in Steinbach, Manitoba, slamming a teenager against a wall during a student walkout organized to protest school mask mandates has gone viral on social media, drawing condemnation from observers while the police argue the actions were necessary to ensure safety.

The videos highlight growing tensions over lingering COVID-19 mandates and restrictions which have become increasingly unpopular as pandemic-related measures stretch into their third year.

The incident took place during the planned February 10 student walkout at the Steinbach Regional Secondary School (SRSS) in Manitoba, according to local news outlet Steinbach Online.

Students participating in the walkout, which was organized to protest the schoolwide COVID-19 policy mandating mask-wearing, left their classes at about 9 a.m. to join parents who had rallied across the street.

Police officers were already on site to monitor the protest.

According to a statement by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), officers became involved when protestors allegedly attempted “to gain unauthorized entry into the school,” leading police to place the school in a “hold and secure” protocol at around 11 a.m., effectively shutting down the building.

A statement released by the Hanover School Division asserted that the “intent of the “adults” who “attempted to gain access into the school … was unknown.”

“The staff were confronted with belligerent behaviours by adults and by some students,” the school division stated, adding that “[s]ome adults engaged in banging on windows and doors with fists and flagpoles.”

After police moved to shut down the school, officers blocked both adults and students from re-entering the building.

In two video clips which have since gone viral on social media, masked officers are seen intervening to force a teenager to leave the premises, with one officer grabbing the boy by his jacket and pushing him against an exterior wall. 

Bystanders watching and filming the altercation can be heard expressing disbelief that multiple officers would be required to “fight” one teenager, while an onlooker can be heard accusing an officer of committing “assault” by allegedly verbally threatening the student.

The RCMP has affirmed that the altercation took place, but asserted that the student had “grabbed a uniformed officer and could have been arrested for assaulting a police officer.”

According to police officials, the teen had attempted multiple times to enter the building and refused to comply with requests to leave, at which point “an RCMP officer in plainclothes physically intervened to stop him. The youth was warned by the officer that he could be arrested for obstruction and resisting arrest. The youth continued to make attempts to gain entry to the school.”

Marie Oakes, a writer for Westphalian News, stated in a Twitter post February 11 that the teenager was “trying to retrieve his items left at the school.”

[Warning: Language]

The videos have gone viral on social media, with some users calling the officers “Gestapo” and “totalitarian,” and one user questioning why officers couldn’t at least escort the student into the building to retrieve his items.

Conversely, other users suggested the police responded appropriately because the teenager was “resisting,” with at least one user commending the officers for showing “restraint.”

Steinbach Online reported that police have affirmed they are “aware of the video which is circulating on social media,” but officials argue that “officers involved used a measured approach and took action to keep people safe.”

The incident comes after schools and school boards have become a major flashpoint over the past year. 

Parents have shown up in large numbers at school board meetings to speak out against controversial curriculum and school policies including forced masking, radical gender ideology, and Critical Race Theory (CRT), which teaches that people of certain racial backgrounds are inherently oppressors while people of other races are inherently oppressed.

School board members have at times reacted to parent protests by limiting public comment, shutting down meetings, and calling in law enforcement. In the United States, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) drew massive backlash last year for requesting intervention from the federal government, suggesting that parents critical of school policies were engaging in a form of “domestic terrorism.”

The letter led to a directive issued by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland in which he called for federal agents to look into the matter.

Evidence has later emerged that the letter crafted by the NSBA was written in collaboration with the Biden administration.