The other day I found myself arguing with a comrade about the conduct of the police during the G20. The argument was prompted by the 10-month prison sentence handed out to Leah Henderson, an organizer and activist scapegoated as the mastermind behind the violence and mayhem of that fateful weekend. How one, overweight-Canadian woman was able to coerce hundreds of police into a violent frenzy is beyond me, but I assume the reporters in question were referring to the only type of violence considered worthy of prosecutions: the violence against property. The property damage of corporations and cop cars will always trump the physical damage done to human beings. In a society that increasingly devalues human worth outside of what can accumulate within “the free market” such a statement is a virtual truism.
(Leah Henderson & her Dog – Pic via TheStar.com)
During this disagreement, I made a few comments which were appropriately restrained and reasonable. I think I said “Fuck the police. All of them.” to which I was hit by a rather bizarre accusation. I was told not to “generalize” and it was unfair that I was painting all of the police officers with the same brush. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
Remember when a couple of Danish cartoonists printed some comics, mocking the Muslim prophet, Mohamed? There was outrage in the Muslim world and a litany of threats and violence ensued. Around that time, there were many turning these instances into blanket generalizations about the roughly 1 billion Muslims throughout the world; such generalizations are ignorant and stupid.
So what makes this situation different?
Well, one only has to do a quick Google search in order to find video after video of prominent members of the Muslim community DENOUNCING the riots and violence. In the case ofToronto’s police, there are no such examples. Not one Police Officer has had the balls to publicly denounce the violence of that day. In fact, not one has even offered up a not-for-attribution quote to a newspaper offering any sort of condemnation.
So when I say “Fuck all of them”, I am not generalizing. I am using these words in the most targeted and specific way I know how. In fact, its been over a year and charges have only been pressed against two police officers, and in both cases the victims encountered massive resistance from the Toronto Police. The cases only went forward after the citizens in question; working in conjunction with journalists, bombarded the police department with an overwhelming onslaught of physical evidence; including photographs and eye-witness testimony. And even the aforementioned evidence wouldn’t have been enough, unless the victims were affluent enough to afford lawyers to fight on their behalf. A luxury rarely afforded toToronto’s poor, who have suffered under the rule of an oppressive police department for decades.
One of the officers charged is Const. Glenn Weddell. Concerning his case the Toronto Star reported the following:
“Some critics have suggested a ‘blue wall of silence’ within the police service has complicated the role of the SIU, a civilian agency that investigates claims of police officers causing injury, death or a sexual assault. The SIU says it had difficulty obtaining information that could identify the subject officer in Barton’s case — this despite interviews with 11 witness officers, eight of whom were in the immediate vicinity of Barton’s takedown, and one who allegedly shared a room with the subject officer during the summit”
Not one of the 11 members of Weddell’s unit was willing to testify against him. Now, I understand why no one takes cops seriously (you guys are a joke) but how are we as citizens, supposed to take the LAW seriously, when it is constantly undermined by the very people tasked with enforcing it.
So to reiterate my early point, who is generalizing about whom? If you idiots (the police) are tired of being lumped into the same category, I suggest one of you distinguish yourselves by reclaiming a modicum of dignity and self-respect by denouncing your co-workers for the thugs and criminals they really are. If such a task means you will be ostracized or fired, then perhaps you should rethink whether or not you wish to remain in the employ of an institution where criminality and “omerta” is a pre-requisite for success.