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.