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Police Violence and Incompetence is no Exception: From Toronto to Abbotsford, Oakland, and beyond

Blog posts are the work of individual contributors, reflecting their thoughts, opinions and research.
Police Violence and Incompetence is no Exception: From Toronto to Abbotsford, Oakland, and beyond

A disturbing narrative has emerged in the wake of the resistance to the G20 summit in Toronto, one of police willingly leaving their cars to burn as a provocation, while "permitting" hundreds of demonstrators to reappropriate the city.

(If one were to believe the image of Canadians as portrayed by the press, it would seem for the most part that citizens of this country have an unyielding faith in law enforcement, moulded through a purposeful process of educational and nationalistic indoctrination, the "deferential society" - characterized by respectful submission. This blind faith in the state, the criminal justice system, the monopoly of "legitimate" violence, and the thousands of armed men and women that enforce it, is of course just that, blind, and I could argue not as widespread as we are lead to believe.)

As has been shown time and again in video footage and articles on the VMC and elsewhere, the police had lost that battle. With a billion dollars and tens of thousands of heavily armed squadrons of police, they failed to protect the corporate sector and the banks that have invaded and occupied downtown Toronto.

People are having less and less faith in the police as stories emerge every week in different parts of the country of police using unprovoked and unjustified violence against people in our communities. In Vancouver alone, the tasering murder at the airport and the beating of Yao Wei Wu in East Vancouver are only two of many recent examples. In the downtown eastside, residents of that neighbourhood are always more than willing to talk about the violence they have suffered at the hands of police, stories that often aren't covered by the mainstream press.

In light of the debate surrounding the G20 resistance, I think that it is important to acknowledge and point out police incompetence and violence, and to not exceptionalize the police reaction to their losing control in Toronto.

Within the past week, police violently attacked a home and detained a family in Abbotsford because they had smelled marijuana and suspected a grow-op. Excerpts from the victims:

"It was absolutely horrifying. None of us have any kind of record or history with the police. My mother hasn't even had a traffic violation. I certainly didn't like seeing my family hauled off to different vehicles, and being handcuffed. It was heartbreaking."
"This was the most embarrassing and humiliating thing that has ever happened to any one of us."

Police response after discovering no drugs:

"Yeah, we screwed up. We've been down in this neighbourhood and we noticed the smell of marijuana growing. Every time we came to this corner it smelled like it came from your house.'"

Also, this week in Oakland, a policeman was acquitted with involuntary manslaughter after murdering (shooting in the back) a subdued African-American man, Oscar Grant, sparking riots and the trashing of a police car.

The officer's defense was that he thought he had grabbed his taser instead of his gun....

These stories and many others all speak to police incompetence and the violent reaction as a result. I would caution against putting such faith in the police and the positive spin facilitated by their allied press corps.
Let's not forget about the many stories that constantly emerge, reinforcing the division between the police and the people, and raising light on their perpetual violence while countering efforts that obscure it. Let's continue to share these stories.

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