Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Chief Blair MUST be fired

Does it even need to be said? Can there really be any doubt that a proven serial liar with a smirking contempt for the civil rights of those he is tasked to serve and protect cannot continue in any position of authority?

Toronto Police staged a display of weaponry to demonstrate “the extent of the criminal conspiracy” among hard-line G20 protesters, but several of the items had nothing to do with the summit.

Facing criticism for their tactics, police invited journalists on Tuesday to view a range of weapons, from a machete and baseball bat to bear spray and crowbars.

Chief Bill Blair, who told reporters the items were evidence of the protesters’ intent, singled out arrows covered in sports socks, which he said were designed to be dipped in a flammable liquid and set ablaze.

However, the arrows belong to Brian Barrett, a 25-year-old landscaper who was heading to a role-playing fantasy game when he was stopped at Union Station on Saturday morning. Police took his jousting gear but let Mr. Barrett go, saying it was a case of bad timing.

In addition to the arrows – which Mr. Barrett made safe for live-action role playing by cutting off the pointy ends and attaching a bit of pool noodle covered in socks – police displayed his metal body armour, foam shields and several clubs made of plastic tubing covered with foam and fabric.

Police also displayed a crossbow and chainsaw seized in an incident on Friday that they said had no ties to the summit. When asked, Chief Blair acknowledged they were unrelated, but said “everything else” had been confiscated from demonstrators.
In other words, he told a blatant, deliberate lie and only admited it when he was called on it. Of course it wasn't the first time.

The rule seemed straight forward when the news broke last Friday that the Ontario government made a regulatory change to a little-known act in secret.

Come within five metres of the summit security fence and you'd better have some identification. If you didn't you risked arrest.

The temporary regulation, which was passed in secret June 2, did decree that all streets and sidewalks inside the fence were a public work until 11:59 p.m. Monday. Under the Ontario Public Works Protection Act, that allowed police to search people trying to enter that area.

But there was no power to search people coming with five metres of the fence, said ministry spokeswoman Laura Blondeau.

"The area designated by the regulation as a public work does not extend outside the boundary of the fence," Blondeau said.

Asked Tuesday if there actually was a five-metre rule given the ministry's clarification, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair smiled and said, "No, but I was trying to keep the criminals out."
Well that certainly excuses deliberately lying about a massive change to the cherished civil liberties of all Canadians, doesn't it?

Perhaps most enraging, Blair thinks all of this is quite funny, appearing at a Pride Toronto reception, he made jokes:

Blair said to the room, "So how was your weekend?"
Filmmaker Malcolm Ingram replied, "I was detained."
"Well my weekend was better than yours I guess, my friend," said Blair to nervous laughter.
He delivered a canned speech extolling the great relationship the Toronto Police has with Toronto's gay and lesbian communities.
Here's the context of Blair's little 'joke', the appalling conditions of the wire cages innocent protestors were left in and the despicable abuse aimed specifically at gay detainees:
Unsanitary and unsafe living conditions
Many of the floors of the cages were covered with dirt and the residue from green paintballs used to identify suspects in crowds. Vomit was also on the floor and no cleaning of the cages took place.
Police intimidation of released detainees
With many of the detainees released and standing across the street from the detention centre, getting food and water from community volunteers while waiting for friends, police stood menacingly across the road. Almost all the detainees were frightened by the police presence and feared an attack. The police used the headlights of rental Dodge Caravans to light up the crowd, citing a need to "keep them visible."
Non-stop light exposure/loss of natural light rhythm/sensory deprivation
Detainees emerged with a broken day/night cycle, being deprived of all connection to the outside world or any other time-based events (ie. set eating times). While in their cages, detainees were subject to constant light.
Exposure to extreme cold
Detainees complained of the air conditioning in the building being very high. Many of them said that they were frozen and asked for blankets, a request which was always refused. Due to having only a single layer of shirt and sleeping on concrete floors, the cages were extremely cold.
Sexual harassment of women and Queer people
We heard many first-hand accounts of cat-calls and crude sexual comments directed at women from police officers at the centre. Some women faced inappropriate sexual contact (including one girl who was forced to endure a police officer covering her body with detainee number stickers in order to touch her), and rough handling from police officers. Openly Queer boys were told to "straighten up," and there was at least one completely nude strip search preformed on a young woman with no reasonable explanation. It is unclear whether the strip searches that took place were consistently conducted by members of the same gender. It is also unclear as to whether any Transpeople, if detained, were put in cells of a gender of their own determination or in cells of a police gender assignment.
Respected journalists have made shocking allegations that amount to criminal sexual assault by police officers. This cannot, must not be swept under the rug. As has been pointed out, the Liberal provincial government of Dalton Mcguinty is by no means blameless in these shameful abuses, but Chief Blair is personally responsible for the actions of his officers and the culture of his force that made them believe they could behave in this fashion.

He has to go.


Patrick Ross said...

I've always thought those SCA guys were a little off. He must have been part of it!

I joke, I joke. I kid, I kid.

You're right, it shouldn't need to be said: the people of Toronto should require Bill Blair's resignation right about now.

Rev.Paperboy said...

Screw the resignation, Bill Blair should be arrested and jailed for a wide variety of crimes.

Michael William Scott said...

Fine......fine....but in the meantime, do us all a favour and kill the black background: impossible to read comfortably. THAT's a crime!

Michael William Scott said...

Black backgrounds suck for readability.
Want proof?
Click on "Post a comment" and see what color scheme comes up!

Cliff said...

Michael a format change has been in the cards for a while the only thing making me hesitate is that changing over from old blogger to new blogger with a lot of idiosyncratic direct coding of links and the like is a bit of a bugger. Watch this space though.

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