Today was Toronto’s second major protest over the police shooting of Sammy Yatim, a young man who was shot nine times and Tazered by a Toronto police officer after refusing instructions to drop his knife while standing in a streetcar. Videos filmed by people who watched the shooting look pretty bad for the officer who pulled the trigger- public sentiment is that it didn’t have to end that way.
The first march was led by the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty and No One Is Illegal- two of the most pro violence organizations in the country. Both groups have close affiliations with the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL)- an umbrella group for provincial unions that’s not shy to promote purveyors of violence. Riding on the coattails of OCAP’s cooptation of the Yatim family’s quest for justice, the OFL called a press conference today to make themselves the centre of attention in the family’s cause.
UndercoverKity and Your Humble Narrator showed up for the presser- we’ve both been reporting on the story, and were interested to hear what they’d have to say. Upon our arrival, it took less than a minute before UndercoverKity was attacked by a union thug…
The thug is a man named Joel Duff- the Communications Director for the OFL. Duff first came up to UndercoverKity and told him he wasn’t allowed to be there. But, as the event was being held at the office for Social Planning Toronto, Duff had no authority to make that request, so UndercoverKitty politely declined.
Duff then talked to a man who was standing beside him and tried to explain himself saying that UndercoverKity has “been writing negative things about unions”. This is correct – Kity has been exposing corruption at student unions for a few years now – but, how is this related to a press conference about police shootings?
Frustrated that his demands were being ignored, Duff decided to go a step further and try to use physical force to stop UndercoverKity from filming. Putting his hand over the lens of Kity’s camera and trying to push it to the side.
But, once again, UndercoverKity refused to take Duff’s (unauthorized) instructions- he’s stubborn that way, no union thug is going to push him around. Kity & Duff have had a long history together, from back in the days when Duff was a thug with the Canadian Federation of Students (a stepping stone to working with organizations like the OFL).
Duff looked a bit shaken when he noticed that I’d been filming his bad behaviour. After, he came up to Your Humble Narrator and demanded to know my name. Like Kity, I’m not one to jump at the demands of any old union thug, so I politely declined. He then looked at me and tried to challenge me to give my name saying “you’re afraid, you’re a coward- a pussy”. This was the height of tastelessness. First, for the obvious reasons that we shouldn’t be using genderized insults like that in polite society- but, also, this is the same word Yatim yelled out at the cops shortly before he was killed. Nice.
The big question that comes out of today’s incident is what does Joel Duff think that the OFL has to hide? His only excuse for his what he did was that UndercoverKity has been critical towards the unions- so, what did he think we’d discover?
At the minimum, it appears that Duff had a bit of a guilty conscience. As we were leaving, he came up to Your Humble Narrator with a copy of the OFL’s press release and tried to justify their involvement. He pointed out the list of names of families of people who have been shot by the police saying “see, we have all these people here!”. He looked a bit dismayed when I pointed out that nobody from Yatim’s family showed up. Massive fail.
Stay tuned for the story behind today’s march- it was a wild afternoon…