Wednesday, December 8, 2010

so now there's a face, so what?

the latest in the G20 police brutality saga is that new footage has been uncovered that shows the clear face of a police officer beating up adam nobody, a G20 protester.

this article in the toronto star "make it right, chief blair" makes a case for going after this police officer and (for once) rosie dimanno actually gets some of it right. she goes through, step by step, the ways to find out who this police officer is--since the others in the video have their faces obscured.

dimanno's step by step is important not because this police officer needs to be "brought to justice." i think it's important because she's demonstrating how easy it would be for the police chief to find the police officer despite what the chief has been saying.

of course the police officer in question should be punished-- he is clearly one of many breaking the law he is paid to protect. with this in mind though, i think that we need to be careful not crucify him just because he was the only one stupid enough to leave his face uncovered. punish this man for his actions, but don't let it obscure the broader issues here : the culture of impunity, of violence, and the illegality abound at the G20 summit--before and during.

like the ontario ombudsman's report declaring that the toronto police's usage of the public works act to be illegal. constructing the wall, forcing people to identify themselves and submit to searches, raiding homes, all of these things are illegal because the public works act is war-time legislation.

storming into the designated protest zone and ripping the prosthetic legs off of people sitting there, keeping people detained in cages, threatening to rape female captives, and then claiming that because the police responsible aren't on the toronto force so you can't actually do shit about it--that's illegal, yo. ILLEGAL.

the author of the report, andre marin, stated: “There was a premeditated, conscious, flagged decision not to announce the existence of the regulation or the reviving of this war-time act, this relic. The government poked a hibernating bear and they didn’t want the public to know.’’

i'm pretty sure we don't need that report to tell us that what happened before and during the G20 was wrong, but I'm also sure we don't need a report or a picture to tell us that it wasn't individual police officers who made those decisions.

and no, this isn't an argument that the police officers were just "doing their jobs" or "taking orders" (although they were). what each police officer did individually contributed to this event becoming a horror story and they should all be punished. sometimes, though, focusing on individual punishment obfuscates where these decisions were coming from. the primary culprit here is chief blair and the chain of command--and i think it's there that we need to be looking for punishment.

by invoking antiquated war-time legislation, building the fence, and making security hyper-intensive chief blair created a climate in which individual police officers were encouraged to go above and beyond, legally speaking. everyone knew that shit was going to hit the fan and i'm sure there weren't a lot of "show restraint" speeches before sending those police out onto the street.

remember when they started building the fences and asking people to vacate their homes and workplaces?? we knew it was illegal. the police knew it was illegal. so maybe we should be focusing on how to stop these things BEFORE they happen instead of trying to chase them afterwards with reports and videos. we try leaders of countries for war crimes, for making decisions carried out by foot soldiers. so why aren't we going after the head of the snake here? our fingers should be pointing at chief blair, the province, and the federal government.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...