A different view of Canada

A Canadian TV investigation into the June 2010 G20 protests in Toronto, and how far over the top the police went – You Should Have Stayed At Home.

A very different version than you’d have seen at the time.

13 responses to “A different view of Canada

  1. That video shits me. But it doesn’t surprise me.
    Police in the neighbouring province of Quebec have a track record of itching for a fight at these events.
    So much so that they have been known to send in the odd agent provocateur or three.


  2. “Police in the neighbouring province of Quebec have a track record of itching for a fight at these events”

    In my experience the Police everywhere are spoiling for a fight with demonstrating, tax paying citizens.

  3. narcoticmusing

    “In my experience the Police everywhere are spoiling for a fight with demonstrating, tax paying citizens.”

    I disagree. You are balancing rights and they have a tough job to do. I’d say if you had to be in their shoes, balancing two sets of passionately opposed rights, it’d be a tough call too and you wouldn’t always make the right decision but hind sight is a pretty nasty standard. I’m not at all condoning the sort of abuse of power shown in this video, that is unlawful and tarnishes the reputation of a group that are, for the most part, a good bunch that you depend on for all those rights you so enjoy.

  4. narcoticmusing _ I know (at least) three people who were hospitalised by cops during the S11 protests in Melbourne after the cops attacked the peaceful protesters (despite the bullshit you may have heard in the media the cops did start that violence.) I have acquaintances from all over the world who have had similar experiences, and FWIW I was at Richmond High School in 93 when Kennet sent the riot squad to physically abuse parents who protesting about the loss of a public school.

    If you are going to a protest, especially an economic one, then you should be expecting an attack from the cops. Its what they do. Its not a matter of balancing rights. they are sent in to belt up people who have the nerve to resist the economic order.

  5. narcoticmusing

    I guess I am trying to consider that when you look at how many protests turn out violent (lets ignore for just a second who is to blame, because often no one is) – if you are a cop, whether you’ve been to one of these before or not, you probably go in knowing you have to expect something. So perhaps they are a little too high strung – they certainly were in that video.

    I don’t think the cops go in with the intention of attacking people, rather protecting people, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t then happen. What do you think the solution is?

  6. The solution?

    Less riot cops. Man (shakes head in disbelief at the memory), I live in “the Bush” and have had a riot copper tell me he was gonna arrest me for intimidation cos I was telling him to remove a vehicle from blocking access to a Multiple Occupancy property. My reason, being a local firey (and a brigade officer.)

    The situation was during the protests about a car rally in the Northern Rivers last year. The MO was the property next door, and there was a protest (50 middle aged/senior hippies) and more riot cops than protesters.

    A cop had parked a vehicle over the access point, just to be a dick, but given there were alleged threats by protesters to light fires – blocking the only escape route from a fire prone community is actually dangerous and if an idiot had “lit up” anyone had died I would have seen that cop in prison. And I told him so quoting relevent acts and the like. That was apparently “intimidation” and if I had to intimidate him to do his job properly then wtf is he doing in that position in the first place.

    Especially considering said community was independent of the protests. It was just another example of cops hassling MOs – usually cos they grow weed.

    Funnily enough I actually defused a riot with the same copper in my local town – Nimbin, a couple of years earlier, when they sent 80 riot squad cops and 20 vehicles to bust 4 people for less than a kilo of pot (4 kg counting the weight of the cookies they busted someone with) in the Nimbin Museum. (On April Fools Day FFS.)

    Other solutions:

    Removing the “us and them” mentality that the police have. (Tho in the lead to up to S11 in Melb you can hardly blame the coppers for feeling the pressure, the media beat up leading up to the protests was massive – this was gonna be bigger and more violent than than Seattle and if the entire Melb CBD wasn’t burned to the ground it’d be a miracle.)

    Specifically riot cops need to be reminded before protests that the people protesting are citizens and entitled to the same protections as any other citizen/potential victim of crime. This is a deeper problem, part of the police mentality, where the only people they deal with are criminals (people breaking the law) or victims. If you aren’t a victim then odds are you are a crim.

    This underlying mentality is a huge issue. Most people aren’t there to confront the cops. They are there to voice their opinions in a peaceful way.

    However the absence of real actual violent rioters most of the time (even Cronulla was a couple of hundred jerks and the rest – drunk people tagging along to watch what happened) means there isn’t really a need for riot cops at these protests. I was at the anti war protests in Melb in Jan ’91, (GW 1) and that crowd self policed. When they found out who defaced the Shrine they even kicked them out of the protest vigil campsite.

    Basically in Australia its rare you need riot cops for the sort of thing they get used for.

    Changing the police force from a career to something everyone has to do for 6 months, like national service. (Yeah I know, very impractical, and effectively unworkable).

    Much more community policing.

    Less laws. (And more corporate regulation, just to be paradoxically inconsistent.)

    Police being held to higher, not lower legal and behavioural standards than the rest of the population.

  7. narcoticmusing

    I agree with some of your solutions – some, like you said, may be impractical.

    In Victoria and the ACT, Police are held to a higher standard due to the additional obligations of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities (and equiv in ACT). Do you think, perhaps, that contributed to the more peaceful scenario in the latter protest in Vic? Ie. has holding them to a higher standard had an impact? Just curious as to your thoughts 🙂

  8. I’ve spent very little time in Victoria over the last 10 years, however from what I have heard the Victoria Police are far better than they used to be. Perhaps that is due to the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities. There does also seem to be a trend toward educating Police. Once upon a time physical size and the ability to inflict violence was a prime requirement for the police force. Thats kind of less important with the advent of guns and tasers. So I guess having an educated police force is the next logical step.

    An educated police force, and human rights instruments seem like a good pairing and a positive development imo. If police officers identify with their community and society, not just with “the law”, and they understand the relationship between the “Rule of Law” and our society/community then I think naturally they will use power and authority with a little more consideration.

    When I left Melbourne people I knew were producing posters with the faces of certain police officers and the words “this man tortures people” underneath. In response to a specific few cops who were evil bastards. From what I hear of Melbourne now this sort of thing doesn’t happen anywhere near as often. If anything its an exception now (apparently), whereas up to the early/mid 90s it was par for the course.

    And where I live … well its basically an “outlaw’ community, full of (mostly former) bikers, “hardcore ex Sergeant at Arms for outlaw club” types, lots of anrgy ex military types who want to hide in the hills. The local economy only existed cos of the Dope growers. The national anthem of this part of the world is (well used to be) Steve Earle’s Copperhead Road.

    Yet this community has little crime – not many thefts or violence compared to many other places. bad issues with Domestic Violence tho, especially among the vets, (but in nearly every case I know of its PTSD – doesn’t make it right, but it is more of a medical issue.) I know a few guys who are reformed DV perps and they are proud of who they are now, and ashamed of their past. Its always the social pressure (from other men) that brings about those changes.

    Quite frankly we view the police as a foreign occupier, especially when they come in here and raid the local growers usually stealing the usable weed in the process – ie separating it from the rest of the cannabis and then splitting it up amongst themselves. Don’t worry fellas if you don’t get caught on video this next week or two then you will next year.

    Or when they harass everyone (even when we have nothing to do with the mull trade) at harvest time, pulling over every car and subjecting it to sniffer dog harassment. Doing roadworthies on obviously new cars, or recently registered ones , for no other reason than to waste local people’s time. Walking around the area in combat fatigues and armed staring at people with hand on gun in the most inappropriate places. Wasting enormous amounts of public money to bust one person and less than an ounce of pot, as they did last week in Nimbin (well more than one, but for the money they spent…). Then having the nerve to put out a press release about it lauding it as an example of good work.

    Personally, too, I look like an aboriginal person, so that just adds another layer of reasons to be annoyed. And I know about the pack rapes of underage girls that happen in towns west and sw of here, ones where there was no recourse to legal protection because the perps were on good terms with the local cops and local footy heros.

    Even after people (ie 13 and 14 yr old girls) ended up in hospital with life threatening internal injuries. (The most disturbing thing about those is their racial component. White guys/young men pack rape white girls for daring to go out with aboriginal boys. Happened to the children of various friends of mine, more than once. Haven’t heard of it happening in about 6 or 7 years, but over that time the only teenage girls I knew were all capable of looking after themselves and had friends and family who would kill any rapists without a moments thought and everyone within 50kms knew it.)

    So no protection from the law for citizens there.

    In NSW tho there hasn’t really been any improvement over time. Perhaps there is a little less corruption in Sydney, but thats probably it.

  9. How to stop police brutality at public demostrations?
    I’ve got an idea.
    Make it a criminal offence for police officers to remove their name tags and badge numbers, or otherwise conceal their identities, whilst on duty.
    The plethora of video cameras will do the rest.


  10. Exactly. There’s no justification for removing identification numbers.

  11. “Make it a criminal offence for police officers to remove their name tags and badge numbers, or otherwise conceal their identities, whilst on duty.”

    Or swap them around amongst members.

  12. returnedman

    Gotta say it goes both ways in Nimbin, Jules. Haven’t been there in a few years (mainly because I told myself “Why do I keep coming here?”) but everytime I visited it was nasty, nasty walking down the main street. Very threatening and not welcoming at all. And I’m from that area – not a gawking “tourist”. I always found it frustrating that in Nimbin, Lismore and around that area there’s a real honest belief that weed is somehow “good” for you – that there’s really absolutely nothing wrong with it AT ALL. Well, it’s not the “devil’s own” herb but it’s far from benign. Talk to anyone who’s a regular user (especially around that area) and you get a real idea of what it can do to your head.

    That said, the cops in that area are everything you described and more. Goddamn rednecks.

  13. Nimbins had its ups and downs over the years. 2002 – 2007 were pretty bad, with heaps of ice, grog and angry young men who were never disciplined properly growing up.

    “Talk to anyone who’s a regular user (especially around that area) and you get a real idea of what it can do to your head.”

    You guys “talk” to me all the ti… wait thats not a good example is it.

    I agree some people shouldn’t smoke, and no one should sit around smoking 100 cones a day. Or even go to work and smoke 50. But weed is like alcohol. Some medicinal preperations probably are good for you tho. You rarely find them round here. The best places for that are parts of India and Jamaica, where parallel to the recreational and religious use there is a whole folk medicinal culture of making tinctures and oils and stuff out of all parts of the plant. Often by people who never smoke it or use it to “get high”.

    But yeah using too much pot is unhealthy for anyone.

    There’s more to this part of the world than weed tho. Its got some great stuff going on. The rainbow power co was decades ahead of its time. Some great permaculture set ups that educate people from all over the planet. Massive concentration of really good artists muso etc etc. Nimbin might be full of freaks but some of those people don’t function anywhere else. At least in that town there is a place for them where no one takes them too seriously.

    And the truth is without the pot economy this entire region would have died decades ago the way so many other places did. Not just Nimbin either, every non coastal town from The Qld border to south of Coffs possibly as far as Newcastle probably had the pot economy keep them afloat.

    But the is plenty to hang shit on it for too. If I didn’t start playing footy for Nimbin years ago I probably would rarely go there.

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