Demario Chambers

Hi, my name is Demario Chambers. A lot of people may know me as the 15 year-old youth who got assaulted by the police in Bedford. I am here to tell you who I am.

I was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia. When I was a baby I moved to Vancouver, BC. After a few years we moved back to Halifax and moved to Bedford, where life for me became real.

It all started in Grade 2 where my teacher didn’t like me very much and as a little boy I didn’t understand that. But as the months moved on, and years, I was bullied. I was also picked on for the colour of my skin, got told my colour stinks, and that I shouldn’t be here in the world – and it goes on. But I never let that affect me, always got good grades, and stayed focused! 

In Grade 4, I was a principal for a day, something I always wanted to be and got to experience. That was cool, but besides that I didn’t really enjoy elementary as I should have as a young boy. I left elementary and went to junior high and man — let me tell you it got really bad there. 

Seventh grade I got called the n-word so many times. I got picked on for so many different things and the colour of my skin was one of them. I was also called the n-word by someone who I thought was my friend. I just got continuously bullied. To be honest, the schools never did much about these issues.

In Grade 8 I dealt with the same name calling and people wanting to fight me. And then in Grade 9 I got surrounded by a bunch of white boys. Some of them were good friends of mine (so I thought) and they circled me and slapped me in my face and threw my hat on the ground. They were stepping on it and kept pushing me, and they filmed the whole thing. That video got passed around school and to so many people. 

With all that I still remained the same person, got decent grades and stayed focused! Don’t get me wrong, at times I felt angry and mad because I just didn’t understand why this was happening or what I did wrong.  I just wanted to go to school and learn in PEACE.

It helps to have the parents I have because they always had my back and always fought for me at the school and always made sure I was good, that my mindset was always right; always letting me know that I am very smart, respectful, handsome and outgoing, and always telling me to never allow no one to take anything from you, and that I can be anything in life I wanted to be.

February 21, 2020 changed my life in a major way. It was just a normal day for me. I was hanging at the mall, which everyone does, but which hardly ever happens with me because I hardly go out. I wasn’t doing anything at all and was approached by a security guard who asked me to leave the mall which was odd because I never did anything wrong whatsoever. 

Of course I asked why, and she said we were loitering (which was odd) because everyone does that (it’s a mall). We all know why I was asked to leave, but I did leave only to get the cops called on me. She called the police because I questioned her on why I had to leave, but at the end of it I still left! Only to get attacked and assaulted by the police at a different mall.

People often ask why I took out my phone. I took out my phone that day because one of those cops as he was walking away took out his handcuffs and held them in the air and said “you will be in these one day.” To me that seemed racist. So I started recording and that’s the video everyone has already seen to this day.

When I was little, I always wanted to be a cop. I thought they were super heroes. They always seemed so cool to me. When I was younger I always watched cop shows and my mom had bought me a cop outfit. It had a cop hat and badge and of course – handcuffs. Obviously as I got older I wanted to be other things, but being a cop was still always in the back of my mind. 

But as I got even older, I saw what the cops were doing to people who look like me and it wasn’t right. And even still I wanted to be one due to the fact that I wanted to make a change in the world. But that night and what those cops who are supposed to serve and protect did to me ruined any hope I ever had of being a cop.

That night should never have happened, and I never should have gone through the trauma of that. I should have never felt those cold handcuffs around my wrist. I should never have been hurt and handled the way I was. I thought I was never ever going to be arrested or be in the back of a police car in my lifetime. Those cops took that from me.

After they put the handcuffs on me, I asked one of them: “do you have kids or even nieces or nephews? Because I am sure you wouldn’t want this type of treatment to happen to them.” (They said we don’t need to answer that.) And you know what the cop did? He came behind me as my hands were handcuffed behind my back and my bum on the ground and stepped in the middle of the cuffs so they got even tighter on my wrists, then put me the back of the cop vehicle. My body was squished up in the back of that police car. My legs were going numb. 

I was wondering, what are they going to do to me now? Where are they taking me? I envisioned that they were going to drive the car off a cliff or that they were going to take me to the middle of nowhere and kill me! 

I suffered from a concussion, cuts, and bruises, and my finger badly hurt. My back suffered pain as well, and I still suffer from back pain. I also had to miss 10 days of my education due to this. 

I also got threats and was bullied through social media after this, as well as at school when I returned. That day will forever be in my mind. It will forever affect me. I DID NOTHING WRONG.

To be honest, even though all this was done to me, I am still so thankful to be alive to tell my story because others who look like me aren’t so lucky. Things need to change and things like this can never happen to anyone again.

So let me tell you who I really am. My favourite subject is math. I write my very own music. I’ve found that helps me a lot. I get all my inspiration from what I’ve been through in my life, and just day to day living and growth. A lot of people judged me from that day saying that I was just a disrespectful child who was talking back to the police to get a reaction, but that’s so far from the truth. My parents raised me to have manners and respect and to be proud of who I am.

So today, I speak out to everyone who knows me as the 15 year-old boy in Bedford who got assaulted by the cops to now knowing me as Demario Chambers who has a name and a voice.

My life matters!

Again, I am very thankful to be here and so thankful to have the parents I have. I love you momma and dad!

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  1. I am so saddened to realize how much racism we have in our community!! I see mixed-race groups of young people all the time here in Dartmouth. It seemed to me that racism was the exception, not the rule. Now, white folks of conscience, how do we change this? The young people who bullied you should have been called out–should have been made to take a racism and sensitivity training course. Anyone who makes racist remarks or commits racist acts should be shunned by people of good will. These people need to feel shame!! If you have any connection to a school, you need to monitor this and not let it go. Of course, that is if the schools ever reopen….

  2. Don’t let their mistakes determine your future for you.

    Having experienced first hand how it should not have been done, will make you a better Police Officer years from now — when it will be your decision on how these kinds of things are handled.

    Keep chasing your dreams to help your community.

  3. THanks to Halifax Examiner and Demario Chambers for his story. It is heart rending and puts a face on the ugly racism and authoritarianism of Security. Is it possible for provincial regulations to define the limits of their authority. Something had to be done about bar bouncers and their extreme use of authority. Racism thriving in the institution of Policing is another issue. It has a long life. Recall the recent story of the Transit employee who held his job for years even though his racist harassment of another employee continued. Systemic racism is a phrase that needs a great deal of unpacking. Ending profiling is one way, but we need to listen for a long time from those persons who have experienced racism in its many details.

  4. This guy is 100% believable. What is also believable is the actions of the security guard, and the police officers. Anyone want to argue that if the kid was white he would have probably not even been challenged by security let alone beat up by cops. We hire the wrong people to be police officers. It’s like Clockwork Orange, where the cops and the crooks are interchangeable. There are exceptions to every rule, but in this type of work, we cannot afford to hand over authority to people who are not emotionally and intellectually equipped to manage it.

    1. ” … in this type of work, we cannot afford to hand over authority to people who are not emotionally and intellectually equipped to manage it.”

      Though we pay them as if they are emotionally and intellectually equiped for the job. Instead we seem to be recruiting too many bullies. There is no place for gratuitous violence and disrespect in keeping the peace. Thank you Demario Chambers for telling it as it is. May this be an important step in making the kind of contribution to our community that you so clearly can.

  5. It is hard to empathize in aggregate. One representative story like this, of a single human being, one that lives in your community, can trigger empathy that we don’t feel for the wider suffering in the world. Alas, the fact that our empathy doesn’t scale is a bug in our hunter-gatherer operating system.

    Demario’s experience is sad and infuriating, and certainly and tragically commonplace. Despite that, his perseverance and strength is exceptional and inspiring.

    Thank you for publishing this article; it could actually move people in a positive direction.Only with empathy from many, for all, will our attempts at improving our society be truly effective.

  6. Alternative uses of HRM funding of Public Safety?
    Multi-service youth centers “offer a safe space to hangout, receive mental health supports, and access to food and housing support. •provide resources and supports to youth that normally don’t have access to and often directly correlate to reducing youth crime rates. •Currently, the pilot project was completed in Sackville, “The Den”. •2018-2019: 161 unique regular participants at the center; Currently, no funding is available to help staff this project, or to expand the project beyond the Sackville location. Annual casual staff wages for each multi-service youth center is approx $75K (Presentation to Bd of Police Commissioners, yesterday)

  7. Hello Demario Chambers, it was a privilege to meet you – I am very very sorry for all the injustice and pain you have suffered throughout your short life. Absolutely your life matters! I am 100% confident you’ll continue making the world a better place.

  8. My friend and I were arrested off the street and put in lock up for two days without a pone call on the word of a Military Policeman who said we “fit the description” of two youths driving a stolen car.
    He singled us out from the group because we were speaking up and telling them that they got this all wrong.
    That’s what authority can’t stand,even a lowly constable is told in training, back talk is not to be tolerated.

  9. Thank you for telling your story. What happened to you was wrong and an abuse of power by police who deserve to lose their jobs. The world is a better place for having intelligent young men like you in it. Your life does matter! You matter. Thank you for not losing your heart and spirit over this mistreatment.

  10. Thanks for sharing your story, Demario. I know it took courage to tell your story. You’re going to help a lot of people by speaking up.

  11. Cops would think twice about doing what they did to you if there were actual repercussions for them. ~CHARGE THE OFFICERS!~ & ~ABOLISH POLICE!~

    1. Abolishing police is just not reasonable. Irrational rhetoric just muddies the waters for those who would prefer a police state.

  12. Thank you Demario

    As you know, no kid should have to experience what you’ve been through.

    I hope you can take this pain and build your strength and keep making the world a better place, which is something you have done by sharing your story.

    I hope to one day hear your music.

  13. Thanks for having the courage to share your story! Right from day one I was confident it was something like this despite so many people like me mumbling and murmuring and going on that you deserved it. I just didn’t accept that as it was far more plausible that the police abused your rights. Keep your chin up young man, many people will support you through your life and those are the ones to connect with while you brush aside the others.

  14. Thank you for speaking out Demario. A very close-to-home example of why we need to DEFUND THE POLICE!!!