Dr. Dawg

Tales of impunity

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Two stories of police overreaching, one from Burnaby and one from Ottawa.

One interesting thing about them is the curious and slippery discourse used by the authorities to explain, rationalize and slough off extra-legal behaviour by the police officers involved.

In BC, a teenager snaps a picture of a takedown in a shopping mall. He is set upon by security guards, who try to grab his camera. He is then placed in handcuffs by their RCMP accomplices. His knapsack is cut off him with a knife. Arrested for “causing a disturbance,” he is released without charge. The mall has banned him for six months.

We can all be grateful, I suppose, that the cops didn’t Taser him to death on the spot.

But now for the commentary:

Metrotown mall backs the actions of its security guards.

“He didn’t comply with the request of the security nor the RCMP, so they took appropriate action they deemed necessary to defuse the situation,” said Doug MacDougall, of Metrotown Properties.

Because the teen wouldn’t comply with an illegal request (to cease taking pictures and to delete those he already had), he was assaulted and falsely arrested. This is called “defusing the situation.”


Justice Minister Shirley Bond told CBC News that current legislation contains adequate measures to ensure appropriate oversight of the security guard industry, but said that oversight is a big job.

“Remember, there are 22,000 licensed security personnel that are doing their job every day — there are situations that will happen, but we have a process to deal with that, as do the police,” Bond said in an email.

There are “adequate measures” for “appropriate oversight.” A whole lot of security guards are at work every day. There are “situations,” and a “process,” and the police have a “process” too.

Anodyne bafflegab.

Then we turn to Ottawa, and a horrifying case of institutional violence. A Somali-American, visiting relatives here, was a passenger in a car stopped by police, something that seems to happen a lot in Ottawa if the occupants and driver are black.

After refusing to answer questions—which was entirely within his rights—the police brought in Canadian Border Security, and agents arrested him on suspicion of being in the country illegally, despite the fact that, as a judge later stated, he had been legally admitted to Canada as his passport clearly indicated.

He was then shoved into that Third World hellhole, the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre. Denied water, he was forced to drink from the toilet, and he was refused his medication—for nine days.

Having been grossly mistreated by three different institutions, and after finally getting the chance to visit his relatives, the man is heading back home—minus an expensive iPhone. It was taken from him by CBSA agents when they realized he was recording them. They claim it was forwarded to the jail. The jail claims it never received it.

A spokesperson for the Ottawa police spouted bromides. There is “more than one side to a story,” he said, and then said he would “not get into a debate” with the Ottawa Citizen’s reporter, and clammed up. He did a “review” of the case, and—I know this will shock readers—concluded that his officers had acted properly.

Note once again, the official response—there’s another side, but it’s none of your business, move along, nothing to see, the police were exemplary.

As they always, always are.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on October 28, 2012 5:28 PM.

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