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Sometimes reality is far less believable than fiction

Right now, I am heartsick. It’s Sunday morning. I’m listening to CBC radio. The subject is police abuse of power at last year’s Toronto G8 conference a year ago. There are too many examples of violence against peaceful protesters, but one stands out. A group of police tackled a man who is an above-the-leg amputee. They pinned him to the ground. They said he had a weapon. They said he was a spitter. They beat him and handcuffed him. Then an officer ordered the amputee to walk. Of course, he could not.

But that’s not even the super evil part. Not yet.

The officer then ripped off the amputee’s artificial leg. He ordered him to walk again. Couldn’t. So then the officer ordered him to hop, which was too painful.

The whole story of mistakes made by police at the G8: confining people without arrest; arresting people they know are innocent, peaceful protesters; arresting people who aren’t even protesting but made the mistake of living downtown and trying to buy milk at a local convenience store. Restricting freedoms with violent, bullying tactics and demanding people move but giving them nowhere to go. Worse, these unprovoked criminal acts against innocent people, perpetrated by police, are covered up by police. Unconstitutional “containment tactics” entrapped people. Police were hyped up, spoiling for a fight where non was necessary. Hundreds of cell phones and cameras recorded these crimes, yet police refused to discipline themselves.

I know a couple of cops. I like them plenty and this isn’t about them. I’m confident they are peace officers, serving and protecting. This is about the fact that the facts are worse than what most of us could pull off in a novel. A police officer who rips off an amputee’s leg and demands he hop? You couldn’t get away with that in a novel. That’s so bad, it reads as cartoony evil. If I used that in a novel, my beta readers might well accuse me of writing “over the top.”

Meanwhile: 11909. That’s a badge number on one officer’s helmet as reported on CBC radio this morning. A protester wants to bring assault charges against the officer whose identifying number is 11909. Allegedly, that officer struck a peaceful protester with a riot shield. There’s video evidence. However, the powers that be are refusing to identify that officer so due legal process can ensue. It seems we can complain of mass arrests, police brutality and detainment without process or cause, and the bureaucracy in charge of these officers do not feel the need to respond to charges in court or in the media.

Some people think this travesty of justice doesn’t apply to them. They think only troublemakers were hurt or arrested or detained by police. Among those abused by police were many people who felt the same way, at least they did until last year this time. Where there is no accountability, when a country’s constitution can be discarded at a whim by authorities, we are all in danger. Freedom of speech without exercise isn’t freedom.

The Toronto police chief, Bill Blair, first stated that everything was fine and there was no basis for any criticism of the police. Then the video came out. Now he admits police made mistakes, but is less interested in pursuing a conversation about it. So will there be a public inquiry? It hasn’t been decided yet, even with all the video evidence. Even though many officers mistook fear of them for enforcing respect for the law. Even though accused officers are still covering up. Even though for all the mass arrests, their successful conviction rate? 2.2%! The fact that they are resisting a public inquiry at all tell you all you need to know.

I am nauseated by this. No kidding. It make me sad for my country and for the damage done to the reputation of  good officers. I wish it were fiction.

Filed under: Horror, Media, Rant

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