Sunday, January 23, 2011
The Old Boys Club
Let me be clear about one thing. I am not anti police. I am very pro police. That is why I am so protective of that agency. It is a sacred duty that should not be tarnished with ego or corruption.
I aspire to something higher. I aspire to the likes of Canadian soldiers who put their lives on the line but remain pure. They are military but see themselves as a service to civilians. Soldiers like Trevor Greene or William Turner.
Trevor Greene was the Canadian soldier who was attacked from behind with an axe in Afghanistan. People criticized him for letting himself become vulnerable by taking off his helmet and sitting down to dialogue with local Afghan Elders. I say that's what makes Canadian soldiers different. They don't aspire to be cruel bullies. They aspire to be genuine peacekeepers. Trever Greene didn't err in what he did. His fellow soldiers should have been watching his back. That's what it's all about.
Some people aspire to the brutality of war. What with all the Rambo movies and the video games out there people aspire to be brutal conquerors. Yet that is not what Canadian peacekeeping is all about. William Turner was a Canadian soldier from Afghanistan who was killed by a land mine. In his eulogy they said he was the type of guy who would come with his weapon in military attire smile and say, Hi my name is Bill. I'm here to help.
You can't get a better Canadian ideal than that. These men lived the ideal and died for it. When we let corruption and brutality enter our own home and native land then we are in essence pissing on a good soldier's grave and that is not acceptable. We are mocking their noble sacrifice.
In contrast to the old boys club I submit the real men's club. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. That is the ideal we should aspire to.
One of the fundamental problems that I see reoccurring with the ongoing police brutality in Canada right now is the concept of having to instantly obey a direct command. "Drop down and give me twenty soldier!" Oh but wait, they're not soldiers, they're civilians. We have been commissioned to serve them and protect them. Their taxes pay our salary.
Another problem is that the RCMP training is still using the old ways of verbal abuse. This needs to change. We need to rise above the old ways and implement something higher. Physically challenging but mentally uplifting.
In all fairness to the Canadians, I did see a YouTube video that demonstrates my concerns with a few American police officers. There was a nudist at some kind of public gathering near a beach. It looked like he had a few drinks and took off his bathing trunks. I didn't see any children present. The police ask him to put his bathing suite on and he said no. He was not violent and was not threatening anyone else. In fact one woman came up to him and shook his hand for standing up to the police. It was either very cold or he wasn't very well endowed shall we say.
The police get pissed because they're loosing face so three fat cops physically fight with him and try and force him to put his bathing suit back on. That wasn't very bright. Even if they succeeded he would have just taken it off again. If they really wanted to push the issue they could have cuffed him without taking him down and arrested him calmly and quietly for indecent exposure. Once they had the cuffs on they could have then thrown a blanket over him. But no, a simple situation went bad. Very bad.
They pull out the infamous taser. Not the cattle prong taser but the kind that shoots an electrode into someone so they can crank up the electricity continuously like back in the days of shock therapy. They guy is on the ground on his back. The taser is in him and they crank the electricity through his body. As a result his body starts convulsing rapidly and he looks like he's having a seizure. One of the officers yells on your stomach! He either didn't hear the command because at that point he was completely out of touch with reality having a seizure or the electricity running through his body made it impossible for him to control his movements and roll over on his stomach as per their request.
The officer gets really mad that he's not obeying a direct command and they all jump on him while they start tasering him over and over again in the chest as punishment for not obeying their direct command. I kid you not. It was absolutely bizarre and a clear miss use of the weapon. Like we haven't seen that happen in Canada before.
The police need to remember they are talking to civilians not soldiers when they start yelling their direct orders. The stereotype has been in the past, if you have done something wrong the police will pull you over and yell out, get out of the car with your hands up. Then they will instruct you up against the wall and assume the position wherein the suspect is expected to put their hands on the car and spread their feet so they may be searched and handcuffed.
Now it appears the expectation is for the suspect to go on the ground to be handcuffed. In the Abbotsford incident we see two police officers arresting two suspects. They yell their command for the suspects to get down on the ground. One of them is very nervous. He's on the ground on his back with his head raised slightly to see and his hands in the air as if to say don't shoot. The other suspect is on the ground on his stomach with his head raised slightly. The cop yells on the ground I said. No doubt the suspect thinks to himself, what the hell I am on the ground. No completely on the ground the bad cop thinks as he then stomps on the guys head so it too is completely on the ground. That was and is absurd. There is no question about it. No committee decision can change that.
Likewise we have one of the Kelowna incidents. Police respond to a shots fired call which is indeed serious. Although it turned out in reality it was not serious at all. Nevertheless, the police yell at the suspect to get out of the car which he does. They command him to get on the ground instead of putting his hands on the car so he gets down on the ground and kneels in front of them. The cop yells out I said get on the ground. The guy thinks to himself, I am on the ground. Then he bows down and puts his hands on the ground as if to say is this better. That's when the cop kicks him in the face. That was a completely unnecessary assault and was yet another example of bad policing making a bad arrest.
How can we train other police forces internationally if we can't train our own? These aren't soldiers we're dealing with they are civilians who we are supposed to be protecting who are innocent until proven guilty. The obsession with yelling out direct commands with the expectation that those commands are to be followed at the snap of a finger needs to change. If it's an armed suspect with a gun in his hand after he has just shot someone perhaps but not for every arrest.
New Westminster Const. Jeffrey Klassen claimed in court he was on top of the victim slapping and poking him while yelling arrest orders. Aside from being a liar because several witnesses saw him on top of the victim punching him in the head, he has no right as an off duty police officer to be on top of someone he did not see commit a crime hitting him and yelling arrest orders. Especially when he is drunk and unfit for duty even if he was on duty which he was not. He was helping a fellow off duty officer assault and rob an innocent civilian in an unprovoked attack.
Clearly this ongoing obsession to hit people and yell direct orders at them has become an accepted arrest procedure and needs to stop. We have lost the ideal and have become the very bullies we send our troops in to defend civilians from.
The other problem is perhaps the police's frustration with the horrible judicial system we have in BC. They know the suspect even if guilty is not going to be punished in court so they take it upon themselves to take the law into their own hands and punish the suspect by punching him or by giving him the boots. That needs to change because sometimes they get the wrong door or beat up innocent people. That leads us to the other Kelowna incident where a cop starts punching a compliant suspect for stealing a boat when he was doing his job repossessing it. Ooops, they did it again.
I remember arguing with an east van activist about police brutality. He was going on and on about it and I said bullshit. He said he'd send me an affidavit from Pivot Legal in east van documenting cases of police brutality. I said yeah testimony from a bunch of crackheads. He said just read it. I had a look at the affidavit and the first witness to my shock was an RCMP officer.
The officer was undercover in east van. The Vancouver police shout out to him as he was crossing the street. They were yelling something about jay walking. The undercover officer didn't ant to blow his cover so he gives them the finger. Then the police take him aside and beat the shit out of him. I was somewhat surprised and thought well that was a credible witness. All the new cases coming to light show a real problem that needs to be addressed. And yes, I agree with Jim Chu in that a civilian agency to deal with police complaints is the solution. "To Serve and Protect."