Ask a policeman? I don’t think so
When I was a boy, my mother told me often that if ever I was in trouble or lost, I should “go ask a policeman.” The message, of course, was that policemen are our friends and they are there to help us.
I’m not so sure she would still offer that advice today.
Many of you will have seen news coverage of the police response to protesters in the U.S., particularly in Portland, Oregon, where people have been protesting, every day for the last 50 or so days, the killing by police of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis. I can understand police reacting severely against people attacking them or throwing projectiles at them, but it is difficult to watch the way they have been brutalizing people for just standing there. And it doesn’t matter whether the protesters are men or women, young or old: the police show no mercy to anyone.
A few nights ago, a line of mothers created a human barrier between the police and the protesters in an attempt to stop the violence. Bad move! The police moved in on them and began to roughly shove and push these women whose only “crime” was to stand in the street with arms linked.
Then there was the video of a U.S. Navy vet standing in front of police to reportedly ask them questions. They set on him with long batons and pepper-sprayed him in the face. Just for wanting to ask them a question!
There are many other examples, too numerous to list here. But unless you think this is just another tirade against Trumpland, let me give you a few examples closer to home. A video came out a couple of days ago showing an Edmonton policeman talking with a man on the sidewalk. The policeman is standing next to the civilian, apparently talking, when, without warning, he sweeps the man’s legs from under him and slams him to the sidewalk. Almost immediately, a large pool of blood can be seen issuing from the man’s head. Then there was the Albertan First Nations chief who was beaten by police on camera. And the image a couple of years ago of an RCMP constable kicking a man hard in the face while the man was on his hands and knees will last with me for a long time.
In Peel Region, recently, police killed a man who suffered from mental illness. They killed him during a “wellness” check. The same thing happened to a young lady in Toronto a few weeks ago when she fell from an apartment balcony during a “wellness” check. How she fell from the balcony while several policemen were with her is still under investigation.
A CBC investigative report says there have been 30 police-related fatalities in Canada in the first half of this year, the yearly average over the past 10 years. In the movie The Hunger Games, which I watched again last night, there is a scene in which the government’s “Peacekeepers” roll into one of the districts. The peacekeepers wear full body armour (although it is white) and arrive in heavily armoured and fortified troop carriers. I couldn’t help but compare that with the armour today’s police forces wear and the armoured personnel carriers some police forces have, including Durham Regional Police.
When I was a boy, our policemen (the bobbies) either walked their beat or patrolled on bicycles. They only weapon they carried (always out of sight) was a billy club. These were policemen you could quite comfortably ask for help. The last time I asked a policeman for help was about five years ago when a woman, quite agitated, was trying to get into a neighbouring apartment and making a lot of noise about it. By the time the police arrived she had left, but I gave them a description and pointed out which way she had gone. But they wanted to know all my details, including my Social Insurance Number. What that had to do with the situation is anybody’s guess. I finally told them to **** off.
I’ve had so much of policemen being involved in questionable antics and tactics – and being protected by their police unions no matter what they are charged with – that I personally no longer have any respect for the police. And it pains me at great deal to say that – my youngest son is a member of the RCMP.
But it seems to me that if police want respect, they would live by their motto of “Serve and Protect” rather than by fists, batons, pepper spray and guns.
Tell me, am I wrong?
Want to tell Roger Varley if he’s wrong or right?
Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org