I was (begrudgingly) reading the Toronto Star this afternoon when I came across Christopher Hume’s article about how Toronto Police officers Make Out Like Bandits when working to provide security at our city’s events. I don’t agree with you very often, but I must say that I’m absolutely on the same page. I’ve covered dozens of our city’s events, and have always been uncomfortable with the amount of money that’s been spent on policing- that said, there have also been disturbing incidents where the police failed to show up and left dangerous people free to wreak havoc.
Unfortunately, though we both agree that the costing of policing the city’s events is often egregious, it appears that there’s a big gap between us when it comes to analysing the root causes. While it’s most certainly true that the payoffs of all that event-related overtime are a great way for Chief Bill Blair to keep his troops happy (Ontario’s Sunshine List says it all), it’s incredibly naïve to write-off the fact that city events face some clear and present dangers.
Of course, I’m being incredibly generous using the word ‘naïve’- your history indicates you know a lot more about what’s going on than you claim…
Let’s first start with the obvious. Any event that shuts-down several square blocks of downtown Toronto is bound to create some enormous logistical challenges. Imagine what would happen if there weren’t police officers stationed at the barricades- what’s the risk of an angry motorist ignoring a security guard and trying to run through?
Now that we’ve got traffic safety sorted, we need to think about the policing impacts. Closing city streets could result in police not being able to achieve desirable response times in the event of an emergency situation (event related or not). Why is it unfair to ask event organizers to absorb the cost of mitigating this risk?
We also need to consider the risks to businesses within the car-free zone. What if a gang of criminal minds decided to take the advice of your comrade Sayed Hussan at No One Is Illegal and used the opportunity to go on a shoplifting spree?
Speaking of gangs, your history indicates you’re well-versed on the subject. Not the traditional gangbanger types (I hope), but the social justice gangs who’ve been making the case for increased police presence on our city’s streets. If it’s your goal to reduce the cost of policing city events, you need look no further than your own backyard.
You may remember back in 2010 when you registered the Internet domain name for Queers Against Israeli Apartheid- a highly divisive group that’s successfully created great tension at Pride Toronto. QUAIA includes many of the same militants who’ve been promoting ‘diversity of tactics’ and militant actions that play right into Bill Blair’s hands (and helps inflate his budget).
QIAIA is only a name of course, they’re the same group of criminally focused protesters we see organizing under the banner of No One Is Illegal, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty and the violence we saw during the 2010 G20 (who you communed with at Occupy Toronto).
And, of course, the policing costs are only a part of the social justice gang’s impact on the city’s budget. Debates over QUAIA took valuable time on the floor of City Council, including hours of special meetings and citizen deputations. If one wanted to achieve OCAP leader John Clarke’s goal of bankrupting the system, the activities you sponsored at QUAIA would be an excellent way to help achieve that.
On a side note, it’s important to take a moment to consider the anti-social personalities you’ve been supporting. I noticed this first-hand when covering a protest against the Jewish National Fund when QUAIA organizer Jenny Peto walked up to the people beside me and told them to shun me because I’m a “homophobe”. Luckily for me, Jenny isn’t that bright, she was a bit embarrassed when I mentioned I live in a house with gay (and a trans) housemates. Kristyn, you’ve hooked-up with some pretty nasty people- what’s up with that?.
Speaking about the Trans community, have you been to the Trans March in the past couple of years? If there’s one solution you can take care of in your own back yard, this is a great place for you to start. The marches have devolved from being celebrations of trans culture and rights, and have now turned into full-on ‘f**k the police’ protests. I’ve spoken with many trans people about this issue, the vast majority (outside those in the agitator’s circles) are horribly embarrassed to see this is happening. Perhaps you can do the right thing and speak-up?
Finally, I’d like to ask if you could do me a favour and relay a couple messages to Christopher Hume for me. The first is that, if he’s going to try and frame the cost of policing events entirely on the police, he should really try harder than quoting a central figure in the whole QUAIA debacle- it’s an insult to his reader’s intelligence. I mean, really, how stupid does he think the people of Toronto really are?
Hume’s other significant problem comes from his closing statement:
“The “traffic chaos” argument is not only tired, it comes from an earlier time, one that time, if not Torontonians, has forgotten.”
If that doesn’t show just how far the Toronto Star is away from the pulse of the average Torontonian, I don’t know what will!
What about the mother who has to run between her college and her child’s daycare while she’s busting her ass on a weekend trying to make a better life for her family? Is it only in “an early time” that we’d value how massive street closures could impact people’s lives? (And, before you get too righteous, this will not only affect cars, but bikes and public transport too).
Thanks for taking the time to read this Kristyn. If you genuinely want to reduce the costs of policing our city’s events, you need look no further than your own back yard. Do you have the courage and leadership skills to do that? I beg of you, please prove my assumptions are wrong.