One of the more interesting parts of reporting on what’s happening in the protester world has been observing how the police have reacted to the protesters. It’s always a bit of a delicate balance- some cops have been highly professional, some not, and a couple escalated situations to the point here there was severe violence. With all of my observations, I’m beginning to realize a distinct (and disturbing) pattern…
The easiest way to explain this pattern would be to examine the circumstances of the four police officer’s I’ve written about by name on this site. The first was Vancouver PD’s Sargent Wally Argent– I praised him for his assistance to Occupy Vancouver, and how he always acted professionally and in a positive manner. The second was a friendly Vancouver PD who’s name I didn’t have, so I nicknamed him Officer Vogue. Wally Argent thought the article was quite entertaining.
Now, let’s jump to the other side of the country. First to a story of two cops who’s names I didn’t know when I covered their actions- they both unnecessarily escalated a situation to violence. It was so spectacular that it was covered by every news station in the city. I arrived there very shortly after the violence ended- to people from Occupy Toronto in ambulances.
The Next cop I wrote about was Detective Anthony Williams of Toronto’s 14 Division. He’s the officer assigned to pursue the anarchists who assaulted me in June. Despite the fact one of them has been on newspapers across the country, and the other has appeared on a Zach Ruiter video in front of the courthouse, I’ve still not heard of any progress in the case. By this point, I don’t know what to make of that- some sort of a sick joke maybe.
There’s one other cop I’ve written about- Officer R. Oulett. I first ran across him in March when I noticed he was at a rather charged protest without his badge number and nametag on. I politely asked him to please put them on- an essential part of building trust between the police and the people is that the police are visibly identifiable. A few minutes later, he made a comment to a passing motorist that they should run over the demonstrators.
Notice how Oulett changed his story here. First he tells me that his badge had fallen off into his jacket- this was laughable (and equally impossible), his jacked was zipped-up. Then he changed his story that he put his jacked on over it. The way he flip-flopped when he was caught didn’t make his story very believable. It appeared to me back then that Oulett doesn’t behave in a manner that Canadians would expect of our police officers- this is not Los Angeles.
Oulett continued his pattern of bad policing today at the anti Jewish National Fund protest in front of the Toronto Convention Centre. The old-left hates the JNF- I covered this a few months ago in my story about my theory that Sakura Saunder’s ProtestBarrick organization may target Barrick Gold because their CEO, Peter Munk, is a leader of the JNF. If you dig down deep into the old-left’s activities, most of them have an Israel/Palestine angle.
Anyhow, back to Officer Oulett. There was a scuffle between a pro-Israeli and a pro-Palestinian protester today. It began with some yelling and escalated to where they shoved each other. The police quickly intervened and separated the two men from each other and pulled the pro-Israeli guy to the side, away from the pro-Palestinian crowd.
After speaking with the police, the pro-Israeli guy began to walk away. As he did so, he quickly turned around, shouted ‘f**k you all’ to the Palestinian side and then began to walk away again. It was clear that he was finished, but Oullet felt he needed to take the last word- so, he yelled at the pro-Israeli guy and told him not to continue (even though he stopped).
As we learned from the incident at Osgoode Hall- some of the members of the Toronto Police Service have proven themselves to have poor de-escalation skills. Oullet is one of them- had he not yelled at the pro-Israeli guy, he would have walked away and it would have all been over. Instead, he provoked him into becoming more agitated. Highly unprofessional- at best.
At this point Oullet walks up to the guy, starts yelling and poking him in the chest- then, to top it all off, he grabs the guy’s jacket and shakes his body. I was simply astounded watching him in action. The guy was posing no physical threat to anyone- this was a situation that required discussion, not manhandling. And, as I previously mentioned- this is Toronto, not Los Angles. Cops aren’t supposed to roll that way in this country.
But, wait, it get’s worse! Oulett noticed that I was filming the incident, and I’m guessing he realized I had caught his bad behaviour on camera. So, he comes up to me and starts trying to intimidate me into stopping filming. I was standing about 15 feet away from the pro-Israeli guy,
I explained to him, and to the two other cops watching, that I was a neutral reporter, I was silent, and I was not standing in anyone’s way. The two other cops accepted what I said, turned around and got back to what they were doing before Oulett’s interruption. Oulett, however, decided to take his hand and push it against the lens of my camera while he threatened to arrest me for interfering. His reaction was so radically different from the other two cops.
I was totally silent the whole time, and at no moment was I close enough to hinder the cop’s work. There was no valid reason for Oulett to be threatening me- I was totally within my rights to be filming as I was. To put it simply, the only thing that would be different if I wasn’t there would be the fact that I caught Oulett using unnecessary force when he should have been de-escalating. I should also mention that I didn’t realize I’d met this officer before until the moment he got physical with my camera and I first saw his nametag. (he was wearing it this time!)
So, what can we learn from the pattern of me experiences observing the Toronto and the Vancouver police? Well, that there’s a marked difference between how both forces work. And, the Toronto police come across as much more aggressive and more likely to escalate rather than de-escalate.
I think that most Canadians (with the exception of radical anarchists of course) believe that the first duty of a Canadian police officer is to de-escalate rather than to escalate a situation. It’s what makes us Canadians “better” than our southern neighbour. Unfortunately, after observing the Toronto Police for the past year, it seems that too many of their officers are failing at this litmus test quite badly.
It’s time for a change here. If this sort of incident is as common as it seems, then it appears that it’s time for some cross-force training on de-escalation techniques. If the problem is that we have a few bad apples- the count of bad apples seems to be way too high. If the top-brass are unable to identify the cops who have problems, perhaps it’s time to bring in some new management? Because, we can’t accept this happening as often as it is- it’s simply not Canadian…
Here’s the video:
On a sub-note, I’d like to make a plea to people that they don’t deconstruct this story from a partisan Israeli/Palestinian angle. Which of the protesters was responsible for the incident is not relevant in the context of this story- it’s about the need to improve Toronto’s policing. (thanks)
“423. (1) Every one is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years or is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction who, wrongfully and without lawful authority, for the purpose of compelling another person to abstain from doing anything that he or she has a lawful right to do, or to do anything that he or she has a lawful right to abstain from doing,
(a) uses violence or threats of violence to that person or his or her spouse or common-law partner or children, or injures his or her property;”
Seems to me that the threat of arrest/detention or a caution is a threat of violence, especially combined with your clear right to be there and to film. It also seems like he assaulted that Israeli fellow. Issuing a verbal caution is one thing, but you’re not allowed to rough someone up, that’s called a battery, actually.
And I don’t get a real sense that he knows better, which is disturbing. I mean, it is one thing for a cop to gauge the situation and “step outside the lines” a bit, if he thinks things might escalate, knowing he’s making a judgment call, doing the wrong thing. But it seems that in this case, he was not aware of his own unacceptable behavior.
Finally, the Israeli guy was quite correct. If shouting is “causing a disturbance”, they should have broken up the mob violently obstructing a sidewalk with their riot—I’m sorry, I mean protest. Canada is a supporter of Israel, so in a big way their action is intended to obstruct public property, especially public quiet, in order to frighten people into adopting a pro-palestinian, anti-israeli stance, which would be an alteration of public policy. I just don’t see how shouting in the street is an appropriate way to change public policy, no matter how much fun it is.
Firstly, do we know the guy was ‘Israeli’.. I didn’t hear that… all I heard was that he made a statement about Hamaas and asked the cop if he was an anti-semite? At best that makes him a Jew…. secondly, Standing Water, you confuse Stephen Harper’s public statement about standing shoulder to shoulder with Israel as reflective of ALL Canadians sentiments about Israel. The protesters on both sides have a right to shout… it’s the job of the police to keep the peace, not control who gets to do the shouting.
You should file a formal complaint with the police http://www.torontopolice.on.ca/professionalstandards/complaint.php
What you describe is exactly what led to the police problems with the G20. On the first day the Police basically allowed the anarchists to run wild. The public was outraged. Not just Torontonians but all over Canada. The Toronto police were embarrassed and the brass wanted a crackdown. The next day it came. And was exactly what activistocrats and their backers at CBC and the Toronto Star were waiting for.
That is the problem with authority. Inaction is an action too. Does not matter if you are police, a manager, parent, teacher, etc. When you fail to enforce laws and rules you only embolden those breaking them and anger everyone else.
A similar pattern happened with the Quebec student protests. The police did nothing when the fascist protesters prevented others from attending class and blocked roads preventing working people from going to work. The people of Quebec were outraged and demanded action from their government. The government the overreacted and passed a draconian law. Which they did not need. They only needed to enforce what already exists.
Even better, you could hire Davin Charney: http://www.charneylaw.ca/index.html
He specializes in suing the police. I have met the guy. He represented a friend of mine years back sue the police when he was falsley imprisoned by a cop who thought he was breaching parole. There is a section on his site titled “Sue the police” where he lists “Failure to protect” and “negligent investigation” as reasons. You may have more legal recourse than you realize.
Do not let the fact he has represented Ichim and other activistocrats turn you off. Charney is no clow, he is good. He is no Jason Bowman. Litterally every member of the Waterloo Regional Police know and fear/respect him. I bet most in Toronto do too.
Interesting idea – but, I’m guessing that Charney would be as willing to represent me as David Eby would. They appear to run in the same crowd…
I think you’re better off filing a complaint. Since you weren’t actually harmed by the cop or falsely arrested suing him would be a bit of a stretch since you’d have difficulty making a case for damages.
You never know. Give it a chance. Charney seems open minded and not as sensationalist as Eby. From what I have seen he keeps his law business professional. I think he will respect your honesty and ethics.
As for a law suit. Maybe not much to sue for here. But, the flag pole Alex thing. . . . . There shoudl be a case for damages there.