“The regulation would impose virtual martial law on its streets” ~ Andre Marin.
I was watching Max Kaiser’s television program on Russia TV’s English channel when he said something that caught my attention. He was talking about being present in Greece during one of the many large scale, public protests against the government’s austerity program. He claims that a group of “anarchists” showed up and tried to coerce the peaceful crowd into becoming violent and he also claimed that the “anarchists” were “… clearly” police officers. This immediately made me think back on the G20 protests here in Toronto and I decided (against my better judgment) to do a quick internet search and see if anything new had happened on that front.
I mean, who knows? Maybe the world did something crazy like put a few hundred cops in prison for violent felonies. It could happen.
While there was no such luck on the whole people being held accountable for their actions front, I did find André Marin’s Obudsmans report, appropriately titled “Caught in the Act”. It states, in fairly plain English, what was obvious to anyone who attended or even casually paid attention to the events of the G20 protest as they unfolded: that martial law was imposed for dubious reasons and that the legislation used to justify the crimes of police officers was fraudulent. To quote the report “there is a real and insidious danger associated with using subordinate legislation, passed behind closed doors to increase police authority” and that the “decision to use this exceptional war measures legislation was, in my view, opportunistic and inappropriate.”
Remembering the G20 is important for the following reason: No one has been held accountable.
Does anyone still remember that day? A day when the normal laws of physics and, uh, “Canada” completely vanished . When our Charter Rights was completely eviscerated and the Police changed their long standing policy of only brutalizing disenfranchised minorities and decided to direct some of that criminality at white folk for a change. When all of a sudden it was okay to punch journalists in the face and the “designated free speech zone” at Queens Park was temporarily renamed the “ if you look at a cop wrong, expect to go to jail zone ”.
Do you remember that day? When law enforcement officers marched through our city in thousands, two by two in full-on riot gear? They banged their metal batons against their bullet proof shields in military cadence. Remember how they marched through the sweltering summer-heat like a proud occupying army declaring victory over their conquered indigenous inhabitants? Being mostly old hippies, students, etc.
Didn’t they look ridiculous?
For those who weren’t there, imagine a cross between Nazi soldiers and Star Wars Storm Troopers . Only these clowns were sucking on Gatorade like a tit. It’s almost as if the biggest civil rights violation and mass arrests in Canadian history had a corporate-fucking sponsor. “Eradicating Charter Rights and Quenching thirst; Gatorade… The Drink of Gestapo thugs everywhere”
Their crimes were overwhelming an obvious. Punitive and egregious. They ripped a prosthetic leg off of a disabled man and forced him to hop to the cop car that would take him away. They beat down journalists. They finger-banged teenage girls during strip searches. They smashed their boots into the necks of old men who were sitting on the grass singing the national anthem. They tear-gassed tax paying citizens; a few dressed up like anarchists, enthusiastically partaking in the petty vandalism and property damage of the “black bloc”
A quick note: These idiots get caught at EVERY G20 or G8 conference pretending to be anarchists. They do it in every country. But specifically, there’s a real history of this occurring in Canada. During the Montebello, Quebec conference in 2007, David Coles, the President of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union pulled a bunch of “anarchists” out of the crowd who he recognized to be cops. Later, Montebello’s Police Chief was forced to admit that they were in fact police officers. Here is a video of the incident and CBC article covering the story.
They did it all with impunity. Committing crimes in broad daylight while being photographed and filmed in what turned out to be one of the most well-documented events in our history. The most disturbing element of that day was how utterly unconcerned the police seemed to be considering that they MUST have known that their crimes would soon be broadcast over the Internet within minutes.
The empirical evidence in favour of criminal, prosecutable felonies being committed (not in isolated and anomalous situations, but as a matter of actual policy) is simply overwhelming. At least a few of had the foresight to rip of their identifying badge numbers. And that alone raises some interesting questions. I mean, when a man who may or may not be a police officer snatches you off the street, beats you down, throws you into a vehicle (which isn’t a cop car) and takes you to a place that isn’t a prison, how long do you have to sit, confined in that abandoned film studio before you have a legitimate kidnapping beef? I’ve looked up the legal statute for kidnapping and this seems to be one of those “if the shoe fits” situations. Maybe I’m missing something.
The legal standard for the use of violence (in self defense) carries with it a fairly high burdon of proof which the perpetrator of said violence must meet. It is not some frivolous piece of legisilation. If the police or anyone else for that matter wants to make the case that a well armed and well coordinated army of paramilitary soldiers felt genuine life threatening fear in response to a bunch of teenage idiots running around with bandanas smashing windows, I’m all ears. I would love to hear that argument because if it’s true it has startling implications.
If the police are really that fragile then forgive me for asking, how do these people even dress themselves in the morning? Does the average Police officer really exist within a state of perpetual psychosis defined by fear and helplessness? If these people are so terrified of the prospect of someone damaging a Tim Hortons window that they feel the need to resort to extreme violence, is it right, that we, as a society, arm them.., or uh…. pay them? Clearly the only humane thing to do in said circumstance would be to hospitalize and treat them for their strange concoction of hyper-exaggerated cowardice.
Or maybe they were not scared at all. Maybe they were ready, willing, trained and (even enthusiastically) anticipating the day it became municipal policy to use violence for violence’s sake and they just really enjoyed it.
The smashing of the glass window at the College and Yonge Tim Hortons will forever live on in infamy as Toronto’s worst act of domestic terrorism. Does it merit or justify the complete eradication of our charter rights or the crimes committed that day? Give me a break. As much as I respect Andre Marin and agree with most of the findings of the Ombudsman report, I think it is a catastrophic mistake to frame this issue like it is solely about dubious legislation and the suspension of civil liberties.
The real issue is that violent felonies were committed with impunity. I was searched illegally, yes; but that has very little to do with those who were punched, kicked and assaulted for no reason. In my mind, the solution lies not in a protracted legal battle or probe concerning the application of some arcane piece of legislation originally conceived in 1939 with the intention of preventing German spies from throwing rocks at courthouses, but in simply enforcing the laws we already have on the books. Also, throwing lots of cops in prison for a long time. Let these assholes duke it out in Gen Pop and fight for survival.
Canada is a funny place sometimes. I used to post on a Facebook group created to organize support for “demanding a public inquiry” into the behaviour of the police during the G20 and I remember this American feller logging on with some fairly tough criticism of us, Canadians. He essentially called us babies and suggested we don’t know what a riot/protest or police brutality really is. And to a large extent, he was right. The police in Canada don’t shoot us while we reach for our wallets and our riots don’t burn down large segments of our cities.
To put it another way, the G20 protests did constitute the greatest mass arrests in Canadian history. And that speaks volumes about how civilized our society really is. The point is this that we want to keep it that way. If The Harper Government’s (or ANY government: municipal, provincial or federal) wants to bring us incrementally closer to a society which imitates or mimics American domestic policy, we need to be vigilant and organized in our opposition. That means sending a clear message to not only our police officers and their civilian review boards, but also to our city councillors and legislators.
The message needs to be clear; we will not tolerate or vote for any politician who stands by and tacitly condones this type of brutality.
Remembering the G20 is important. The Ombudsman’s report is important. Although, a man who remarked that “he didn’t see what all the fuss was about” and claimed that “he would have lets the cops of the leash sooner” is now our Mayor.
The conduct of police during the G20 was barely mentioned in this municipal election and that’s on us. Politicians will pander to large demographic blocs of organized voters. Sadly, people who advocate for civil liberties or fight against police brutality haven’t organized. There are activists working in the field, there are law firms who do pro-bono work on behalf of the victims of police brutality; but until John Q public starts to give a shit, all the Ombudsman’s reports in the world won’t make a difference. Remembering is a start; but organizing seems to be something of an imperative.
Additional reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bblmNY316k