All Posts Tagged With: "police"
Student groups demand full public inquiry instead
The Quebec government has named a three-person panel to investigate events related to last year’s student crisis that made international news.
Public Security Minister Stephane Bergeron said the panel will study the actions of students and police during anti-tuition demonstrations that rocked the province.
Bergeron told a news conference Wednesday that he wants to ensure there is never a repeat of clashes like those seen during 2012′s so-called “Maple Spring.”
Protesters accused the police of numerous abuses — including arbitrary mass roundups and fines, indiscriminate pepper-spraying, and violations of mobility rights.
A number had been demanding a full public inquiry into police actions.
There were expressions of disappointment Wednesday from groups that said the new mechanism fell far short of what they had demanded, and would continue to demand.
The investigative body will have no power to subpoena witnesses, will do its work in private, and will be unable to point to offences by individual officers.
The government made it clear that any disciplinary measures against individual police officers would continue to be handled by the regular provincial police ethics committee.
The panel has been asked to analyze circumstances surrounding the protests and identify factors that led to the deterioration of the social climate.
It will cost $400,000.
“The government is interested in learning lessons from the 2012 crisis, a social crisis of such a magnitude that we can never let it happen in Quebec again,” Bergeron said.
Students took to the streets for months, and many shut down their classrooms. They were protesting a planned tuition increase of 77 per cent over five years in Quebec, which has the lowest university rates in Canada.
The protesters won a partial victory when the Parti Quebecois took office, scrapped the initial plan, and introduced a permanent tuition increase of 3 per cent a year.
The new group will examine techniques used by police and protesters, as well as the financial impact of the crisis. There will also be a study of how other jurisdictions deal with similar movements.
The group will deliver a report to the government, including recommendations, by Dec. 20. Bergeron said he plans to make the report public within six weeks of its delivery.
Bergeron appeared to already have drawn some conclusions about what caused the chaos.
He blamed the previous Liberal government for introducing Bill 78, a controversial anti-protest law designed to get students back to class. He also said the crisis would never have happened if the previous “Liberal party government” had not introduced such “excessive tuition hikes.”
The minister said it was the Liberals’ behaviour that brought thousands into the streets for near-nightly protests in Montreal and elsewhere in the province.
Bergeron said the panel will conduct its hearings in private, so that anyone wanting to testify could do so without fear of reprisals. The panel will accept written, audio and video testimony.
He said the panel will not intervene in cases already before the province’s police ethics committee, nor seek out people who might warrant charges.
Bergeron said municipalities and police had to adjust their tactics, given the unprecedented event and the need to maintain social peace and safety.
“The vast majority of Quebec police officers acted with professionalism, given the circumstances,” Bergeron said.
Bergeron said he encourages people who feel they were treated unfairly to file a complaint with the ethics committee. Some 200 complaints have already been filed with the body, which has the power to sanction officers.
The committee will be chaired by Serge Menard, a former Parti Quebecois public security minister and federal Bloc Quebecois MP. The other two posts will be held by ex-union boss Claudette Carbonneau and former judge Bernard Grenier.
Opposition parties blasted the plan.
They called it a waste of money. And they also questioned its impartiality, noting that the PQ and union movement had clearly supported and — in the case of the labour groups even funded — the protest movement.
Coalition party member Jacques Duchesneau, a former police officer, said the announcement left a “bitter taste” in his mouth.
He said there had been 711 student protests recorded in Quebec last year and there had only been arrests at one-third of them.
“Is it the police’s fault that people threw smoke bombs on the metro?” Duchesneau told a news conference. He was once chief of the Montreal police force.
“Is it the police’s fault that people threw bags of bricks on the tracks to stop the metro? Is it the police’s fault that people wanted to take over the (Montreal Formula 1) Grand Prix?”
He said he was fine with the idea of a study — but said it should have been done in a public forum, like a parliamentary committee, and been more neutral.
The government drew entirely different criticism from student protesters. They wanted a more muscular mechanism.
The more hardline student group, ASSE, said it would continue to demand a real public inquiry as well as an abandonment of all charges or fines levied against 3,500 people during the crisis.
“This is a far cry from the independent public inquiry on police behaviour, demanded by 91 Quebec civil-society groups,” said a statement from the group.
“We’re not asking Mr. Bergeron to share his reflections on social movements. This special committee should instead be weighing in on the actions of those who are supposed to be protecting us.”
-With files by Sidhartha Banerjee
“Officer 728″ charged for pepper-spraying, excessive force
A Montreal police officer who gained notoriety under the moniker “Officer 728,” after viral videos surfaced of her allegedly roughing people up is being charged in court today.
Const. Stefanie Trudeau has been alleged to have used excessive force in one arrest and unnecessarily pepper-spraying student protesters last year.
It was not immediately known what charges are pending against the patrol officer, who has been suspended with pay since Oct. 2.
Const. Martin Simard, a spokesman for Longueuil police, said officers from his force helped Montreal police arrest the 40-year-old at her suburban home Monday night.
She first became an Internet sensation during Quebec’s student protests last year, when she was accused of aggressively pepper-spraying innocent bystanders.
Then she was accused of hurting a bystander in an incident that started with her demanding ID from a friend who was sipping beer by an apartment building doorway.
Trudeau’s arrest came after an internal inquiry into the officer’s behaviour.
Police Chief Marc Parent said last fall as the file was turned over to Crown prosecutors that nearly 30 police officers and 50 citizens were interviewed.
Trudeau was moved to desk duty and then suspended from the force with pay after videos of an altercation last October between police and a group of people surfaced on the Internet and TV.
Police intervened after men were spotted drinking beer outside an apartment and when one man complained about the alleged aggressiveness of police, he was put into a headlock, dragged down a flight of stairs and slapped into handcuffs.
A confiscated cellphone subsequently recorded conversations between the officers apparently without their knowledge.
In a profanity-laced explanation of the arrest, the people in custody are referred to as “rats” who strum guitars and wear the red square symbol of the student protest movement.
It was during those student protests that Trudeau first got the public’s attention when a video showed an officer liberally pepper-spraying demonstrators in May who appeared to pose no threat.
Social media lit up with outrage about the incidents and more than 200 people staged a protest calling for her firing after the second video surfaced.
Hint: It’s not schools, and they pay $80k after three years.
Education graduates face a dismal job market. Two-thirds of recent grads in Ontario aren’t working full-time. The University of British Columbia’s teacher’s college recently admitted that many graduates won’t find jobs in teaching.
Things are bad in Manitoba too. The local school boards didn’t even show up at Monday’s University of Manitoba education job fair.
But that same job fair should give education graduates a reason to be hopeful, because it showed how certain other employers value their experiences.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, for example, showed up at Manitoba’s education job fair for the first time Monday. The force is recruiting education graduates for the police academy in Regina.
Protesters were “masked and hooded”
McGill Principal Heather Munroe-Blum told the Montreal Gazette yesterday that she is “sorry” to students who were hurt by pepper spray when riot police showed up at the administration building on Nov. 10. Students have called the response to their occupy-style protest heavy-handed. But Munroe-Blum defends herself by stressing that the occupiers were “masked and hooded,” which frightened the staff. She also added, “when you call the police you don’t tell them how to do their job.” The pepper-spraying at McGill came the same day tens of thousands of Quebec students marched in protest to the annual tuition rise of $325, which will bring fees more in line with the Canadian norm by 2017. Munroe-Blum continues to defend the tuition increases as a way to compete with better-funded schools like the University of British Columbia and University of Toronto. Three police officers at the University of California Davis are on leave after pepper-spraying 11 seated students at an Occupy protest Friday. Those protesters were not masked.
Video goes viral
The police chief and two officers at the University of California are on leave after a video emerged online that shows riot police pepper spraying peacefully-seated protesters on Friday.
Police had been ordered to clear the tents of Occupy Wall Street protesters who had built an encampment on campus the night before. The university had given occupiers letters of eviction the following day. Eleven students were injured by the pepper spray and two went to hospital for chemical burns. Ten protesters were arrested.
“Yesterday was not a day that would make anyone on our campus proud; indeed the events of the day need to guide us forward as we try to make our campus a better place of inquiry, debate, and even dissent,” Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi wrote in a statement online. She has announced a task-force to look into the incident.
Lower enrollment follows violent crimes
York University will arm its security staff with handcuffs, batons and bulletproof vests. It’s an effort to make students feel safer on campus.
One unnamed source told The Toronto Star that the move is clearly being made to fight future enrollment drops that could stem from perceptions that York is unsafe after high-profile crimes on and near the Toronto campus this year. Wallace Pidgeon, an official York spokesperson, refutes this claim.*
As of August 3, 40 fewer students had confirmed enrollment at York than had one year earlier, according to the Ontario University Application Centre. That’s a 0.6 per cent drop in a year when confirmations grew by 2.0 per cent overall.
“If you do nothing illegal, we won’t bother you,” say police.
A Quebec student lobby group claims that a Montreal police squad, which monitors anarchists and “marginal political groups,” has violated the province’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.
Now, they’re going to file a human rights complaint.
Four members of L’association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante, including three of the group’s executives, were arrested in connection with several protests in late March against higher tuition fees. Some of those protests turned violent.
The group claims that those arrested were targeted because of their political views. ”There is no doubt about the political nature of these arrests,” ASSÉ spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois said in a press release. “This is clearly an attempt by the [Montreal police] to decapitate the Quebec student movement on the eve of one of its historical struggles.”
Montreal police deny that the arrests were politically motivated. ”When you occupy an office and someone gets a broken wrist and there’s a broken window, that’s not a peaceful demonstration,” spokesperson Ian Lafrenière told the Montreal Gazette. “I agree that people should be allowed to demonstrate. If you do nothing illegal, we won’t bother you.”
The human rights complaint focuses on the police’s Guet des activites des mouvements marginaux et anarchistes (surveillance of the activities of marginal movements and anarchists) or GAMMA squad, which ASSÉ claims conducted the arrests. Police said GAMMA did not make the arrests in question and that the squad was formed as a reaction to increasing levels of violence at protests.
Another activist group, the Coalition Against Repression and Police Brutality, has also filed a complaint accusing the squad of discriminating against people based on their political views.
ASSÉ says it represents more than 40,000 students across Quebec.
Crown withdraws charges over lack of police warrant
The Crown has dropped charges against about 100 people arrested during a police raid at the University of Toronto during the G20 summit.
Police entered the Koffler Student Centre and the Graduate Students’ Union facilities back in June without a warrant (whoopsies), and arrested a number of activists after discovering several “weapons of opportunity.” These weapons included rocks, bricks and sharpened sticks, which—yes—are fairly ubiquitous, but call me cynical if I don’t believe the GSU had planned a sort of hut-building orienteering exercise for out-of-towners during the G20 summit weekend. The activists, many of whom were from Quebec, later accused police of profiling them because of their province of origin.
For all of our coverage of this story, please click here.
In any case, the Crown has withdrawn the charges since police didn’t have a warrant for the raid. According to police spokesperson Meaghan Gray, the police didn’t believe they needed one, citing “reasonable and probable grounds” for the arrests.
This incident is one just among a slew of G20 humiliations on all sides of the debate, including gross overspending ($334,000 bill for sun screen, bug spray and hand sanitizer, for example), vandalism of public property, mass detention of peaceful protesters, and even a police officer threatening the arrest of a woman blowing bubbles.
But why the GSU thought it a good idea to turn its gym into a makeshift hostel during the hyped-up G20 summit, especially when the campus was pretty much shut down, is beyond me. Why the police decided to raid the area without a warrant, however, also leaves me scratching my head. Unfortunately, neither scenario is surprising.
Last year, thousands of people jammed the streets and officers made nearly 140 arrests
Kingston police are bracing for another night of revelry by Queen’s University students after nearly two dozen arrests were made Friday night.
The university announced in November that traditional fall homecoming celebrations would be cancelled for at least two years due to safety concerns.
But revellers refuse to give up the partying that accompanies the festivities and continue to throw unofficial “faux coming” parties.
With the football game underway Saturday afternoon, police had already responded to 18 incidents including three rowdy keg parties, numerous liquor violations, an indecent act, a vandalized car, a break and enter, and a report of kids throwing tree branches onto a bus.
Const. Mike Menor says about 23 people were arrested Friday night and early Saturday morning on charges ranging from assaulting a police officer to public intoxication. He adds that partiers threw objects at a prisoner van after arrests were made.
Menor says police have also seen a number of underage drinkers this weekend and that homecoming weekend is always taxing on police and Kingston residents, who are fed up with the resources being poured into the event.
Toronto police on horseback and riot police have been called in to assist local officers in dealing with the influx of debauchery.
But he adds that police expect Saturday night parties to be even more out of control because it is traditionally the major night for celebrations.
Menor says 11 officers on horseback helped keep the drunken party goers from flooding into the streets Friday night.
RCMP do not suspect foul play, investigate whether alcohol or drugs played a role
An autopsy was being conducted Monday on the body of a student who took a fatal fall from a residence window at St. Francis Xavier University.
Nicholas John Sheehan, 18, of Fredericton, a first-year student, tumbled from the fourth floor of Lane Hall on Sunday night. “It goes without saying that we’re saddened by what happened, the entire community on and off campus,” said university spokesman Kyler Bell.
Grief counsellors were made available to students who feel they need to talk about what happened.
“For at least the next few days we’ll be operating until late at night and then on call afterwards for any student who feels they need to speak to a professional,” Bell said.
RCMP Sgt. Mark Gallagher said they do not suspect foul play but the medical examiner was called in and toxicology tests done.
Police are trying to determine whether alcohol or drugs played a factor in the fall. It could be weeks before all the results are known. Gallagher said investigators planned to talk to family members and to other students to try to determine how it happened.
Police and paramedics responded to the call around 9 p.m. but the student was pronounced dead on site.
Bell said the university was trying to get back on track after the shock of what happened.
“I don’t like to use the words ‘routine’ or ‘as usual’ because, of course, it isn’t,” he said. “But classes have resumed and we’re operating . . . with minimal disruption.”
- The Canadian Press
Kenyan students called “refugee dog” in hateful letter, group says
Police in Toronto are investigating after racist hate mail was delivered to the Ontario office of the Canadian Federation of Students.
The federation says the mail was received late last month following the launch of its province-wide task force to study racism on college and university campuses.
The envelope contained a recent editorial cartoon from the New York Post that was accused of having racist overtones, and a picture of federation representative Hildah Otieno, a student from Kenya.
On the clippings, words such as “refugee dog” and “KKK” were written.
Otieno said that after much discussion, the group decided to make the incident public.
The federation’s Task Force on Campus Racism is holding hearings through April and will then prepare a report to be released this fall.
- The Canadian Press
18-year-old was snatched from his downtown Vancouver apartment last Sunday
An 18-year-old Chinese student, who was kidnapped on the weekend, was rescued in a dramatic takedown early Thursday morning, according to Vancouver police.
“[Police] executed numerous takedowns on multiple vehicles and the hostage was rescued uninjured,” said Deputy Chief Doug Lepard in a news release. “Reports of shots fired in the area were the result of ‘flash-bang’ grenades being used during the rescue by Emergency Response Team members, which give off a loud noise.”
The Chinese student was kidnapped from his home on Feb. 15. Police say they were notified by one of his family members, who lives in China, after they received a phone-call demand for ransom.
Officers then put their “kidnapping protocol” in motion, initiating emergency wiretaps, 24-hour surveillance, and other techniques police declined to disclose. During the course of their investigation, police say they identified several Burnaby homes they believed were connected to the kidnapping.
No one was injured in the takedown, and police say five suspects are currently in their custody. They say more arrests may be made and several search warrants will be executed.
Police say an 18-year-old female student was charged with two counts of uttering threats