Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Blair lies, citizen rights in the toilet

I have no doubt there were plenty of regular police officers who were angered and shamed by the fact that vandals were allowed to rampage for an hour and a half through Toronto on Saturday. I had an earful from one such officer last night, the partner of a close friend of mine. She was furious with me (I assume over what I've suggested about agents provocateurs), and talked about the abuse that police faced: bottles, bricks and even feces thrown, insults hurled, being spat upon etc. This is disgusting, unacceptable behaviour, and clearly intended to be provocative. Ultimately, it was. I know this officer is a fine person, calm under stress, honest to a fault -- an officer of the peace in the true meaning of the words. I have never heard her so angry, our friendship seems to be toast and I'm sorry about that. There are good cops and bad cops, just as there are good protesters and violent protesters. Good people deserve our praise and the violent, on either side deserve our condemnation.

I also spoke to a retired police officer/consultant from Michigan. I wanted to know if there could have been a mobile squad that could detach as needed to pursue these vandals. He said it was absolutely standard operating procedure to have a quick response team in place. I'm going to assume things were planned well enough that there was such a force, and that it simply wasn't deployed. Not only was this a tactical failure, but it's turning into a public relations failure as well.

"The bosses of this police force and other police forces decided to play public relations, and instead of doing their jobs, they let the city burn," said Naomi Klein on Monday.

Yep, show the public just what kind of violent elements there are, and maybe that will justify the massive expense. And in making that decision, a volatile situation was made more so. It was immediately after the vandalism that things got ugly. Decent cops were humiliated and angered, innocent people were rounded up and stripped of  their rights.

And now Bill Blair admits police never had those far-reaching powers, that he was making it all up, re-writing the law on the fly. The problem is, police believed they did have those powers, forcing people to submit to searches, to provide ID or be arrested, preventing journalists from covering arrests, not just within the 5 meters of the security fence, but all over the city. Since there never was such a law in place, all of those actions were illegal. Police were lied to by their own chief.

Don't blame the victims, blame the hidden agenda of our leaders: Harper, for overspending and over-militarizing the city, McGuinty for his secrecy, Blair for his lies, and whoever else was involved in planning and running this debacle.

We need an independent inquiry, and we need it now.

UPDATE: Facebook group demanding inquiry is here.

Thanks to Galloping Beaver for the video link.

Vote for this post at Progressive Bloggers


  1. I think your point about individual police officers is well taken. Our complaints should not be taken individual officers who perform their duties, but to the police hierarchy that decides which rights citizens should be denied.

    I commented at "Law is Cool" that the police destroyed community relations. If the police cannot trust citizens, why should the citizens trust the police? It will take a while for the relationship to improve.

  2. I think your friend sounds like a whining baby. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

    Citizens have a goddamned right to be angry when one-billion dollars is spent on security only to have a 1.5 hour right, which is then used to attack innocent protesters.

    Sure, there are good cops and bad cops and okay cops. I know some good cops myself. But one billion dollars is a lot of money. There was one hour of vandalism that they didn't stop. And they shat all over their fellow citizens' Charter rights.

    they should learn to suck it up.

  3. SD, I agree with you. This has been damaging for community relations, especially since so many of the people detained were not even part of, or even sympathetic to the protests. And I thought Bill Blair was a champion of community relations.

    thwap, I think and hope that my friend was just venting after a long and stressful weekend. I agree that citizens have a right to be angry about this insane amount of money spent. I also think cops have a right to be pissed off too about how bad they were made to look by the decision not to go after the vandals. And it's quite clear to me that this was a decision, and not a matter of being unable to deploy in time.

  4. Yes the responsibility begins at the top and I believe Blair must resign or be fired as the result of of his lies.

    I know some excellent officers too. However, they work serving the public, they're paid well and we expect them to carry out their jobs to the best of their ability. When individual police violate their sworn duty they should be held responsible. Based upon the video evidence I believe some have committed offenses and should be pursued under the Police Services Act. (Fat chance, eh?) Some should be sued in civil court for their actions. Some seem to have violated the Criminal Code too.

    It isn't just the 5 metres lie and subsequent abuse all over the city. The "kettling" and inappropriately harsh response on Sunday disgrace the police force.

    Good cops should be ashamed but what are they going to do?


  5. If the allegations are true in regard to journalists being beaten up and peaceful protesters being detained, and it would seem from Blair's own admission, under a law that did not exist, then Blair should be fired because how can anyone have any confidence in what he utters in the future?

    In addition, the officers shown in the following link should be fired too (unless the video was a misrepresentation of what actually happened). Under the circumstances of Blair seemingly admitting that he had lied about the 5-meter regulation, why would a reasonable person doubt the authenticity of what the video purportedly shows (i.e. that it was an illegal search)? Here is the link (it is worth watching if you have not seen it yet):


    In regard to your friend being angry at you, remember that people who stand up for the right principles often lose friendships or even family members love.

  6. Hi Anon - thank you for the link. I had seen the vid but forgot to bookmark it. Thanks also for your comment regarding my friend. We're not that close but it still saddens me.