I‘ll never forget the day that Angela Turvey and John Erb were hospitalized– it was an incident that seriously challenged my views on the police. I was sitting at home writing an article, when I got a phone call from one of the people who had occupied Osgoode Hall. They told me that the police were there and that they were insisting that the occupiers vacate the space.
I was working at the time on an agreement with a lawyer, Susan Ursel, to get the Occupiers legal representation. When I got the phone call from the Occupier I was just about to fax out the retainer agreement. It was unfortunate I didn’t get it out- because, the next day I got a call from Ursel’s office saying that there was a ‘conflict of interest’ and they were no longer able to support me. This was unfortunate timing, and was never explained to my why.
I was really shocked to hear that the police were trying to evict, it was only two days earlier when I had got the landlord’s approval for them to stay there- on film. So I threw on my coat and got out there as quickly as I could- hoping that I could help sort-out the confusion.
When I arrived, John was on a stretcher, and Angela was being taken out of the ambulance- she had the bruises all over her face that you see on the picture above. My whole body was shaking at the scene, it was something I never thought I would see happen when we got permission to be there. Something was wrong.
As I wrote that day, after watching the videos, the whole situation was avoidable. Had the police put their focus to de-escalating the situation at the beginning, it never would have ended as it did. But, also, the occupiers made a mistake during the arrest and began to escalate the conflict themselves. Both parties could have handled the situation better- but, the police took the first step at escalation.
So, despite the fact that I was disappointed when I heard about the SIU’s decision to let-off the cops– I was not very surprised. It is true what they said about Angela was aggressive towards the police, and John was very agitated at the moment. Still, had the police de-escalated at the beginning rather than immediately trying to arrest John, this wouldn’t have happened.
I view both John and Angela as close personal friends- people who I hope I will know for the rest of my life. So, it upsets me when I see others trying to exploit their pain for their own political causes. When I saw Vancouver Cop Watch’s screenshot I posted at the beginning of this article I became rather upset.
First, they have no real understanding of what happened that day- and, it is obvious they haven’t kept themselves up-to-date on the facts. True, Angela was seriously hurt- but, she was not ‘neaerly beaten to death’. This is a gross exaggeration. And, as my readers understand from my previous articles on Cop Watch, they did this as part of their targeted campaign to create division between the police and the people.
Members of Vancouver Cop Watch should be deeply ashamed for this act…
I’ve already written about how Sakura Saunders tried to exploit Angela’s situation, but it is important to bring-up again in the context of this article. Because, it is another example of pure exploitation. It is also an example of how this exploitation can take us two steps backwards- the next time an Occupier brings up an example of discrimination, the public will be less likely to listen.
And, then, this morning, I saw this tweet from police the haters OccupyBayStreet. I’ll never forget the day they tried to tell me that all police were evil and should be treated as such. Knowing that, I can have no doubt they are using Angela’s situation to further their political goals. I’m not surprised at that, Doug Hattem is a raving loonie when it comes to the police- but, still, I can’t help but be disappointed to see a self-proclaimed Christian use another’s pain in this way.
Tomorrow, Darryl Richardson, of the anarchist-run Toronto Media Co-Op will be leading a demonstration at Osgood hall. Once again, here’s someone who has no relation to what happened that day who will be using the situation to promote his political agenda. I understand that some Occupiers will be attending- but the bulk of the people who have signed-up are those who support violence and hate the police. (UPDATE: Darryl says that he was not exploiting Angela, but I cannot confirm this).
The good news here is that the exploiters are in echo chambers- preaching to the converted. The bad news is that so many people in the protester community think this is acceptable behaviour. Because, this lack of ethics will only hold-back progress in the cause of social justice. And, if there are clashes with the police tomorrow, they will only be helping the police justify hard treatment of future protests.
It is a sad state of affairs…