12.22.2010

one arrest is not enough: demand a public inquiry into g20 police violence

Columnist Rosie DiManno has intelligently and independently told the truth about police violence at the G20 summit (see my posts here, here and here). So I'll let DiManno begin for me, writing about the arrest of one police officer in the assault of Adam Nobody.
And then there was . . . well, just the one.

Out of all the police officers behaving badly during the G20 protests — swinging batons recklessly, kicking, punching — a single cop was charged on Tuesday by the Special Investigations Unit.

Const. Babak Andalib-Goortani — you da man.

Assault with a weapon is the charge.

Perhaps somewhat unfairly, Andalib-Goortani is the only law enforcement member to wear the scandal of overzealous and allegedly criminal protester-pounding from that chaotic week last June.

He made the mistake of lifting his face-shield, which rather defeated the purpose of removing his epaulet badge number. In videotape obtained by the Star, Andalib-Goortani is clearly recognizable — Mr. Policeman with a Goatee. It was this footage, which the Star publicized nearly two weeks ago, that helped SIU investigators put a name to a face.

You’re welcome.

But just the one name and just the one face, despite a veritable deluge of videos and still photographs that was offered by the public after SIU director Ian Scott had originally claimed there was insufficient evidence to lay charges in the most notorious police pile-on incident — the tackling of Adam Nobody, a man who insists he was beaten not once, but twice, the second time around by plainclothes officers behind some police vans, a purported assault that was apparently not captured by any probing candid camera, if it indeed occurred.

Public, take a bow. If not for the unwillingness of ordinary citizens to let this matter alone, to simply accept the SIU’s frustrated and no-outcome investigation, to stand down when Police Chief Bill Blair stood up and ridiculed the veracity of earlier videotape evidence, to go along with that absurd applause-applause commendation that city council invested on police for their handling of the G20 clashes — this result, however small, would likely have never come to pass. [Read more here.]

This is all true, but it is also horribly inadequate. It took an enormous public outcry to achieve a paltry, token result. This is the way learned helplessness sets in: people see their efforts accomplish nothing or very little, so they don't bother speaking out.

Let's not forget the larger picture. The G20 itself is an undemocratic body whose autocratic decisions benefit a privatized economy to the extreme detriment of the public good. The "security" of their meetings was used as an excuse to grossly curtail basic civil liberties and to violate basic human rights. When citizens peacefully challenged both the G20 agenda and their self-appointed "right" to fashion the economy for the benefit of the few, they were brutally repressed. And when even greater numbers of citizens spoke out against that repression, they were given a token result.

We shouldn't settle for this. We must renew our calls for a full public inquiry. There will be a rally at Queen's Park in Toronto on January 8, 2011, but Canadians all over the country can and should get involved.

To stay updated, join the Facebook group Canadians Demanding a Public Inquiry into Toronto G20 or follow the group on Twitter.