Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Breach of Peace, Breach of Trust - now with Bonus Lies!

I've been trying to write a post on the G20 protests for days now, but events keep overtaking me.  And now there is only one overriding issue:

Chief Bill Blair has lied to the people of Toronto, and he must apologize or resign.

As others have pointed out, a police force can only function effectively if it has the support and trust of the community.  When that trust is lost, when we can no longer believe what we are being told by those in authority, the whole system breaks down.

Chief Blair lied when he led us to believe that the Public Works Protection Act could now be applied to anywhere within 5 metres outside the G20 fence. And then he smirked - smirked! - when he admitted it was an intentional deception to "keep the criminals out".

Chief Blair lied when he said that none of his officers had used rubber bullets.

Chief Blair lied when he claimed that all of the items put on display at yesterday's press conference were "weapons" confiscated from G20 protesters.  Even when he corrected himself to exclude the chainsaw.

Weapons? They were supposed to be decorative.

Police Chief Bill Blair used a cache of household items seized over the weekend to justify the force with which they disrupted protests. Prominent among the “potential weapons” were bamboo poles, the CBC reports.

But poles confiscated by police were never intended as weapons, their owners say. Had they not been confiscated, they would have been used to fly Pride flags at a picnic in Cawthra Park.

‘Weapons’ seized in G20 arrests not what they seem

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.

What else has he lied about?  Did he lie to his officers about who they were and were not entitled to search and detain? Because these ones most certainly had it wrong.

Did he lie about conditions in the detention centre? Did he lie about how those police cruisers came to be set ablaze? How can people be blamed for speculating about bait cars and agent provocateurs when they are being lied to about everything else?

It's all starting to remind me of the mistrust we had of the Toronto police back in the days of the Cherry Beach Express. I had hoped we were long past that. But this week, Chief Blair reminded us all just how quickly and easily that trust can be breached.

UPDATE: Just when you thought you were getting a little paranoid, Joe Warmington of the Toronto Sun (the TORONTO SUN!) confirms that the police really were ordered to stand down and let the vandalism continue unimpeded.

I'm waiting for the admission that that really was a police officer smashing in the window of his own cruiser.


  1. The guy with the arrows?
    that was just his very good cover story.
    I am sure the police will prove he really wanted to torch a few leaders.
    Saved by the vigilaent & beady eye of the Toronto constabulary!

  2. hi Jennifer...good post. But I wonder if everybody is being a bit too hard on Blair.  The guy giving the orders was an RCMP Chief Superintendent from a command post/war room in Barrie. Nobody can excuse Blair's playing with the truth or that absurd arrows photo-op. But he could be covering up for others and/or the designated scapegoat.
    All of which means that we absolutely need a public inquiry to find out what happened, what went wrong, and make sure it never happens again

  3. "Chief Bill Blair has lied to the people of Toronto, and he must apologize or resign."

    <p><span>I don’t think an apology is necessary.<span>  </span>Just fire the bum.</span></p>

  4. I really do not know what to think, but I saw the interview  by the CBC reporetr in  Barrie, who was asking the RCMP a few questions..I would not trust that man. He evaded and avoided a great bit, I thought...guess who is behind the RCMP ..Love your blog picture..lovely leaves