Judging by this morning’s reading, people have a tendency to wrap up the past year as though New Year’s Eve is the end of a complex Dostoevskian narrative. But too many police stories never seem to conclude. Here are a few loose ends that may or may not be tied in 2011.
Robert Dziekanski. His killers walk free, continuing to “Maintain the Right.” It’s been months since the Braidwood Report found them to be a pack of liars, but no charges have been laid, and, at this point, I think the strategy of the BC Attorney General is clear: let the whole thing just fade away. Hell, the mother got paid—why are folks still griping?
The G20 police riot. To date, there has not been a single conviction of any of the 1,100 or so people arrested this summer by police running amok. Activist Alex Hundert, who wasn’t even a demonstrator, remains in jail, bail revoked for taking part in a university panel discussion and then for writing down a licence number. One officer—one!—was reluctantly charged after the Toronto Star’s Rosie DiManno and an amateur videographer did what the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) and the Toronto Police said they couldn’t do. The new Ontario civilian oversight agency has undertaken an investigation of police conduct—stay tuned.
Chad Aiken. Well, it’s only been five years or so since this young man was pulled over by “Officer 666” for driving while Black. The police absolved themselves, but this July an Ontario Human Rights Tribunal heard the case. No report as yet. Again, keep a watch on this one.
Junior Alexander Manon. Last May, this young Black man was allegedly beaten to death by several of Toronto’s finest. The autopsy has not been revealed to the public. Nearly eight months afterward, the SIU is still on the case—or, put another way, is concealing information.
Stacy Bonds. She’s suing, the public is getting the message about unaccountable police, and all seems on-track. But as yet we have no indication why the Crown Attorney’s office pursued an obviously bogus charge against the victim. We need a spotlight on the conduct of this office, in fact—many of the Crowns there are too chummy by half with the police. (Check out the St. Louis Bar and Grill on Elgin Street, a favoured watering-hole, I am reliably informed, for these “two separate but equally important groups.”)
But to be fair: if it hadn’t been for this overreaching by the Crown, no one would ever have heard of Stacy Bonds, no incriminating videos would have surfaced, and the public would even now bask in the illusion of a benign Ottawa police serving and protecting. Could there have been method in the Crown’s madness?
2011 should be an interesting year, as bloggers and individual reporters continue to carry out the civilian review of police misconduct that our politicians and institutions can’t or won’t do.*
*The spanking-new Ontario Office of the Independent Police Review Director has yet to prove itself. Time will tell whether it’s just another toothless outfit or whether it will impose some order and discipline on up-to-now largely unaccountable police officers.