sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (raccoons of the resistance)
Last December, 19-year-old Durham teenager Dafonte Miller was savagely beaten by an off-duty Toronto cop and his brother. A cover-up ensued, made worse by the knowledge that the poor kid is going to lose one of his eyes. It's not the only instance of police brutality against racialized people in this city, but both the young age of the victim and the blatant corruption of both the Toronto and Durham police forces have made the case a symbol for everything that needs to change here.

Earlier this summer, journalist Desmond Cole—already forced out by the Toronto Star for his involvement in Black Lives Matter—was arrested at a Toronto Police Services Board meeting and inexplicably charged with trespassing (this, despite the fact that the meetings are open to the public and press and he more or less followed procedure; the man is, after all, a respected reporter who regularly attends such meetings) and fined $65 for trying to shed light on the criminal assault on Dafonte. This raised tremendous ire amongst all decent people in the city, excepting, of course, the stalwart defenders of free speech, who were strangely silent on the issue.

For this month's meeting, Cole was prepared, and asked people on Facebook to accompany him to the meeting in case they tried something sketchy again. Determined as I am to squeeze in whatever I can do to help with sorry world before I'm once again buried in an even deeper avalanche of work, I showed up, along with a massive crowd of other concerned citizens and press.

I'm not sure I've ever set foot in TPS headquarters before; I don't think I even had to do it when I did my criminal record check, but if so, that was the only time. You need to go through a metal detector and a bag search, which is apparently new this month, and due to the fact that for some reason, members of the general public have recently decided to exercise their right to attend Toronto Police Services meetings, and the cops aren't best pleased about it. They have TV screens set up inside and outside, but the mics are very quiet, and despite the fact that the meetings are supposedly open, it's near impossible to follow the actual discussion. The agendas, while available, skip a number of items for no obvious reason.

Not that anyone was there, it must be said, to discuss The Way Forward plan, budget allocations, or what colour police cars should be. No, everyone was there for the same reason—the deputations—evidenced by a slow wave of folks writing "WE'RE HERE FOR DAFONTE" on the backs of their agendas. There were two issues, somewhat related. One: Unlike every other institution in the city, including my own, the TPS has refused to implement the Don't Ask, Don't Tell* policy issued in 2013 with regards to non-status immigrations. Two: The process into evaluating the success of School Resource Officers (SROs, a.k.a. armed and uniformed cops in schools) is deeply flawed and one-sided, right down to the paltry academic research on the subject being down through Ryerson, the only Toronto university that doesn't have a faculty of education.

At any rate, the meeting went from boring and incomprehensible to seriously exciting the second the deputations, which included Cole and a number of other interesting people, my second favourite being Gita Madan from Education Not Incarceration. The Board made every attempt to minimize Cole's ability to speak, but since he wasn't actually violating any laws, he and the others got the message out—end the SRO program, implement DADT now, and Mayor McBland should resign from the Board. There were a lot of cameras. Then he led a walkout and addressed the crowd on the steps of police HQ.

You can read all about it here.

The meeting room, the overflow room, and the halls were full of people, though again, the crowd seemed to consist of everyone but the folks that claim to believe in a principled and consistent defence of free speech. There were parents with their babies, school teachers, academics, and activists, black, white, indigenous, Latinx, Middle Eastern, and Asian. I suppose you might call the meeting "raucous"; I would term it "enthusiastic" or perhaps "engaged." It was almost as if regular people decided, together, that we should get a voice in the way "our" police force is run.

Without public pressure like this, there will be no chance at justice for young Dafonte. I feel incredibly honoured that I got to be part of something like this today.

* Americans, I can feel you cringing all the way from here. It means something different in Canada! Here it means that if you provide a public service (such as being a social worker, teacher, doctor, nurse, or theoretically a police officer) you don't ask someone their immigration status, and if you do find out that they are not here legally, you are not allowed to report them to Canadian Border Services. This ensures that no one is prevented from medical care or education, abuse victims can seek protection from their abusers, etc.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (racist!)
I've been meaning to write a post for awhile on the bizarre sentencing arguments following the equally bizarre conviction of James Forcillo, the pig that murdered a mentally ill teenager on a Toronto streetcar, and the horrible miscarriage of justice in the Freddie Gray murder just reminded me to do so.

Forcillo, you may recall, was charged with attempted murder even though Sammy Yatim died after Forcillo shot him eight times. The weird argument here is that he was legitimately firing in self defence the first time (note that Yatim was alone, wielding a small knife, and Forcillo could have, I dunno, gotten off the otherwise empty streetcar and just waited him out, but why do that when you can gun down a kid, right?), which was when the fatal shots were fired, but the second round was gratuitious. That's dumb as shit, but thanks to the reactionary minimum sentencing laws brought in by various governments starting with Chretien's in 1995, Forcillo is looking at at least five years in prison.

Except! The defence would really like the judge to make a special exception for the rules just for him, because cops are special and get paid over $100,000 a year without having to pay for post-secondary education and get to carry guns and shoot whoever they want. So they've made a series of increasingly Dadaist arguments, including that mandatory minimum sentences were never supposed to apply to cops, and that the sentence could deter domestic violence victims from fighting back against their abusers. In fact, the defence wants house arrest, which is quaint, given that pot dealers who've never hurt anyone in their lives end up in jail all the time. It's almost like jails are unpleasant places where we should be reluctant to send people, or something.

But the most absurd, and most horrible argument for leniency in Forcillo's case is that because Yatim was paralyzed from the first volley of bullets, the second round of shooting, for which Forcillo was convicted, didn't actually hurt him any. As the judge points out, this kind of opens the door to the possibility that it's cool to go around shooting parapalegics in the legs because they can't feel it. But still, this was an actual argument heard in court and the lawyer wasn't immediately disbarred or forced to wear a dunce cap or anything like that.

As far as I can tell, no one has publicly called this argument what it is, which is a prime example of the racial empathy gap. That's one of those things that Canadians (if they've heard of it) think only applies to black people in the US, but examine the rhetoric around how "threatened" Forcillo, a large thug with a gun, felt by Yatim, a skinny teenager, and you can pretty much play racial empathy bingo. Yatim was twice marginalized, as a person of colour and a person with mental illness. Racism in Canada isn't the gaping, bleeding wound it is in the US; here, it's a slow-burning infection, but no less fatal.

We know that the racial empathy gap is real. We know it was a justification for slavery, the association of racialized bodies with mindless animals, less sensitive to pain because they were already hardened to it. We know that it's still a horror in the modern era, with medical professionals unwilling to prescribe as much pain medication to black patients. And it's a factor here, where Yatim's life, his physical and mental suffering in his last moments of life, is given less weight than that of someone with a white body, a white mind.

Forcillo, too, is facing special treatment; that there is even an argument for the courts not tossing him in jail for at least five years (the Crown is asking for 8-10) is a factor of his white skin and his blue uniform. In fact, he is still getting paid $103,967 a year, and will be until he's actually sentenced. There is a fair bit of chatter about that, and rightly so.

I typically don't believe in mandatory minimum sentencing (in fact, I'm broadly against prisons as a whole) but this is the one case where I think it absolutely makes sense, to avoid the sort of bias against victims with skin colours like Sammy Yatim and towards criminals with skin colours like James Forcillo's. I'm not convinced a primarily white legal system, which props up a system of white supremacy, is ready to be trusted with nuance in a case where ancient racist tropes can be invoked to cheapen the life of a dead teenager.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Behemoth (Master&Margarita))
Wanna hear a joke?

A mentally ill kid on an empty streetcar waves his dick and a knife around. The cops come to the scene. From a reasonable distance (i.e., not stabbing range) one of them shoots him three times, then stops to make sure that he's mostly dead, then shoots him five more times. The kid dies. The cop is convicted of attempted murder.

That's it. That's the joke.

I suppose we should be happy that he was convicted of anything at all, given that he was a cop and the prosecution reportedly bungled some things. The takeaway to cops, I suppose, is that if you're going to murder a kid, make sure you don't pause when you're blowing the shit out of him.

Can some more legalistic minds than mine find out if there has ever been a case of attempted murder where the victim died at the scene?
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (racist!)
Following, via the internet (because fuck knows I'm not going near actual newspapers or TV right now), the police riot in Baltimore. Like most of you, I'm full of rage and helplessness and horror.

In between updates, I've been mainlining episodes of Daredevil (which is awesome, by the way). I highly recommend it for a variety of reasons. Among them are its portrayal of a very nuanced moral universe. Without delving too deep into spoilers, both the protagonist and the villain do objectively Very Bad Things in the service of a near-identical goal: to improve the neighbourhood where they grew up. The latter sees gentrification and disaster capitalism as the key to fixing Hell's Kitchen; the former fights for the rights of tenants in rent-controlled slums. You can probably guess why I like it, beyond that I enjoy silly TV shows with superheroes beating the shit out of each other.

I'm going somewhere with this.

The show is really, really violent. Like, graphic in a way that makes me flinch, and I do not flinch easily. In between fight scenes, the characters debate whether it's justifiable to take the law into your own hands. The premise paints a picture of a dystopian city, where the rich circumvent the law, manipulate the media, and use the police as a death squad—so, pretty much like we have now—and as a viewer, while you may find it squicksome, you accept the narrative justification for Murdoch putting on a mask and beating the shit out of people every night. Because he's tried the other way, and failed.

Which brings me back to Baltimore.

David Simon, creator of one of the best TV shows ever, is requesting that the "rioters" go home. His voice carries a certain weight, since most of what I know about Baltimore I learned from watching The Wire. But he's wrong. The so-called rioters are home. And I don't see as they have much of a choice at this point.

I want you to imagine you're watching a silly show on TV. In pretty much every episode, a young man dies. Usually he's killed by the police, who are depicted as hopelessly corrupt. The deaths are horrific, over-the-top in their brutality. Helpless victims are beaten, tased, left to die. In the last episode, a young man looks at the cops funny, so they arrest him and sever 80% of his spine.

No one in authority does a thing. The friends and families and communities of the victims try to do the right thing. They try to appeal to the law. To the media. But the police are corrupt, the courts are on their side, and the media is preoccupied with Bruce Jenner or something. When their appeals are met with silence, they take to the streets in peaceful protest. You can imagine what happens next.

At what point, oh viewer, does violence become justified? Let's be honest; if this were a TV show, and not reality, you'd be rooting for the hero to be mowing down these fascists in the first 15 minutes.

Now, I wouldn't recommend violence because the state has bigger guns and is happy to use them, but I understand it. What gets me is the utter lack of empathy on the part of people wringing their hands about a few bricks being tossed, like a window matters more than a young man's life. I don't get why people don't see that every legal, civilized means of dissent has been exhausted and trampled over. I don't get why everyone in that entire city and anyone who can get in a car or on a bus, isn't out there in the streets, protecting the protesters from the cops.

I like fiction because it builds empathy. We can sympathize with drug dealers and junkies when The Wire reveals their struggles and aspirations. We can sympathize with vigilantes when we watch their desperation at an unfair system grow. And yet. We can watch high school kids, armed with nothing more than bricks and righteous outrage, face down a militarized racist police force that won't hesitate to kill them, and complain that they're not behaving like we would want them to, that they just need to lower their voices and their fists and we'll talk this out like rational people, as if anyone in power had any designs on civility. As if were ever anything but an impossible struggle against an implacable enemy. We get this in fiction, so why not when it happens in real life? Is it really that hard to understand?
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (she)
Two stories have really dominated my consciousness—and the consciousness of most people in this part of the world—over the past few months. One is the murder of Mike Brown by Darren Wilson; the other, is the exposure of Jian Ghomeshi as a serial rapist.

A few days ago, a grand jury voted against indicting Darren Wilson despite mounds of evidence and that whole thing where usually a prosecutor is working to prosecute the defendant, rather than exculpating him. Predictably, protests followed, and the state responded with brutal violence. That same day, Jian Ghomeshi surrendered to police and was let out on bail.

As these stories were developing, a parallel narrative emerged. Jian Ghomeshi's many, many victims were interrogated about their motives and methods. "Why," cried the concern trolls, "did these women not go to the police?" Any honest person knows the answer to this, but the question itself is a fundamentally dishonest one, designed to protect the powerful predator. The concern troll is concerned about due process and not trying the nice rich man in "the court of public opinion"; he extends no such concern to the victim, who shouldn't have been wearing such a short skirt/shouldn't have been into kink/shouldn't be working in the media, etc.

Likewise, both Mike Brown and those outraged by his murder and by the farce of the indictment hearing were placed under a scrutiny that the murderer (who profited quite handsomely for his crime, and even managed to get married while off on taxpayer-paid vacation!) somehow managed to avoid. "Why not wait for due process?" the concern trolls ask. "Why the anger, the rioting, the uppity insistence that this is about race?" Wilson was given the benefit of the doubt; the 18-year-old child he gunned down was not.

Now that The Almighty Law has spoken, we know that Ghomeshi may face jail for his crimes, and Wilson will not. (It bears pointing out that the two high-profile men who've been in the news for serial rape are both men of colour; some people get held accountable more than others.) Proof that the system works, right? The Powers That Be are listening and the bad guys get their day in court.

Except. There is no fucking way that Ghomeshi would ever, ever, see the inside of a courthouse if his victims hadn't gone to the media first. We know the CBC wouldn't have acted, and police would not have charged him. It was only the massive international outrage that forced the accumulation of evidence and the arrest.

Likewise, Wilson wouldn't have even made it to the indictment hearing were it not for the protests that have shaken Ferguson since August. That we even got as far as an obvious miscarriage of justice is credit to those who wouldn't let it get swept under the rug. Because of those—yes, violent—protests, the fact that a white cop murdered a black child is now an international issue.

Marginalized people have always been told to shut up and be patient while the system works, despite the fact that the system is designed to work against them. We've seen, over and over again, that trust and patience is rewarded with inaction or re-victimization. The only justice Wilson's, or Ghomeshi's, victims will ever see is brought about by working around the system, whether that means going to the media and generating outrage on social media, or burning shit in the streets. It feels very obvious for me to type this, but over and over again, I find myself arguing with well-meaning white liberals about the futility of sitting back and trusting in some sort of magical objective legal system. Here is your concrete proof. I can never be a pacifist because it is only the threat of all hell breaking loose that can threaten the dominance of the powerful.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (march)
It was a bit on the cold side, but in the interests of being able to look my kids in the eye tomorrow and myself in the mirror tonight, I went to the Black Lives Matter Rally in front of the U.S. Consulate. It was a huge crowd (especially since, as far as I know, it was organized yesterday, and also it's Toronto in November) and very well-organized. The mic kept cutting out, unfortunately, but what I could hear of the speeches were powerful and passionate.

I have some bad cell photos to share with you. Sorry about the blurriness, but you can get an idea of the scale.

sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (racist!)
A bunch of white people have absolved themselves of any wrongdoing. The going value of black lives has been reconfirmed—which is to say, non-existent. You can kill a dog and face more legal scrutiny than cops who kill black children. And another black child is dead for holding a BB gun. It's fucking open season.

American police have killed 996 people this year. If a street gang did this, we'd consider it a pressing concern. But these guys get paid by your taxes and called heroes so it's okay.

There's a thing at the American consulate at 6 tonight. Guess I'll go. I'm feeling pretty disheartened at the moment.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (racist!)
People shocked by Ferguson—and a lot of good, intelligent people are—and by the militarization of thuggish local police appear, to my jaded eyes, to lack a certain historical perspective.

There was a blip in North American history, lasting less, I think, than a century, where this sort of atrocity outraged the general population for any length of time. The Lawrence Textile Strike and the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire were horrible but up until the Reagan-Thatcher era, that violence begat basic protections for workers. The war in Vietnam, the first televised war, meant that the US had to tread a bit more carefully internationally. But essentially the armed wing of the state has been beating on marginalized and, in particular, racialized populations, regardless—and this is important, would-be pacifists—of whether they resist or not or resort to violence or not, as long as it's been in existence, to a chorus of shrugs and sighs from those too privileged to be directly affected.

Ferguson dominates the media cycle at the moment, not because it is radically different in content from similar crackdowns in the past, but because it is the first of a thing. The first time many people have seen the active deployment of police outfitted with military gear. (Unless you've been at a protest in the past twenty years. Or you're not white.) The first time it's not just televised, but livestreamed, tweeted, reblogged. The first time people have been able to hold out long enough without being crushed to get it into the news cycle. Among the first times the citizen media has been able to loudly counter the mainstream narrative. But beyond the technological angle, it's not shocking or surprising or any sort of historical aberration; if anything, the aberration is the aforementioned few decades where speaking truth to power actually had an effect.

The next time this happens, the militarized police response, the almost inevitable murder of demonstrators, will be routine. That's how it works. That's why it's happening now, unfolding in the way it is; to pave the way for the new normal. So that next time we can just sigh and remember that getting outraged didn't work last time so why bother now? That's just how things are.

The other day on the radio, I was listening to an interview with Ken Jarecke, the photographer who, in 1991, took a picture of an incinerated Iraqi soldier just before the Gulf War ceasefire (this is the photo, if you need to see it; here is an interview—with the man's face blurred out—about the photo's significance). The photo was suppressed in the North American press; at the time, the trend in news reporting was to sanitize the war, to make it look like there were really no casualties at all on either side. I was 12 in 1991; I knew what war was, that obviously people were dying, but the essential truth of it, the genuine outrage and the horrific human cost, didn't hit me until several years later, when I came across that photo. Nowadays, such images are commonplace, and Jarecke was speaking about how photos of dead bodies from war zones had completely lost their power to shock. I think he's mostly right; the photos of dead kids in Syria and Gaza splashed all over my Facebook feed have never changed a single person's mind on the issues at hand. In 1991, the AP felt the need to suppress that photo for no reason I can see other than that it might make people question the war, might make them not go along so readily with the next one, might—and this would have been the worst thing—recognize the humanity of the enemy. It had power, back then. Now, we understand that the Other is human, suffers horribly as the result of our actions, and we don't give a fuck.

We are able to briefly give a fuck about Ferguson because it still has the power to shock—this time, and not completely; open racism is socially acceptable again in the US, and so the KKK can raise money to smear the reputation of the murdered child in question. When it happens again—and make no mistake, Ferguson is the future of policing—we will all understand the collective truth that this is the way it always happens, the way it's always been done.


Aug. 13th, 2014 09:06 pm
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Behemoth (Master&Margarita))
The stupidest comment I've seen today (in response to a comment I made elsewhere about how police can basically murder with impunity):

"I don't think being put on adminstrative leave pending investigation and having your murder inspire riots and protests is "impunity.""

Pity the poor cop on paid leave who isn't currently dead or having his skull bashed in, unlike a good many other people. The only thing worse than cops is the culture of racism and bootlicking that enables them. And that's regular people with a fetish for authority and a delusion that what happened to that poor kid in Missouri won't ever happen to anyone they love.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (eat your ballot)
I stopped doing the Rob Ford stupidity countdown because it was too much work to update (it hit the point where he was doing multiple stupid things a day, and I couldn't update quickly enough), but damn, if Hudak gets in, it'll be even worse.

This guy. He's unreal. I mean, much has been said already about how, despite a masters in economics, he fails at basic math, and also he's a puppet of the Tea Party, and oh yes, he is actually made out of some sort of plastic-type material. And his smile. He has the worst smile. You know that. But! Did you also know that he is so right-wing that even the cops don't want anything to do with him? This, after he said he'd slash 100,000 public sector jobs but spare the cops, because it's way more fun to bash teachers and EAs. Do you know how fascist you need to be for the cops to disown you? The cops liked Mussolini.

The good news is I'm less and less certain that he'll win. He creeps out other Tories, for fuck's sake.

Related: I voted in the advance polls. For the NDP, if you're curious, albeit with my nose firmly held. I like my MPP though, and I can't stomach voting Liberal regardless of how much Horwath pisses me off, and there were no actual communists or socialists in my riding to toss a protest vote at. I've haven't felt more anarchist about electoral politics in a decade. Seriously, they are all shit at the provincial level, and it's the one that affects my life the most.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (red flag over TO)
It's another day of Fordsplosion as police have released some wiretaps. (Warning: autoplay video.) The latest revelations:

• Ford was aware of the crack video, despite claiming otherwise.
• He offered $5000 and a car to a gang member for the video.
• There were more images of Ford doing drugs and "being in a lot of fucked up situations."
• Ford associated with gang members, who tried to blackmail him with the video.
• Ford associated with at least one known felon, Lord Conrad Black. (Okay, that wasn't in the wiretaps, but I felt that I should point it out.)
• The crack video was the motive behind Anthony Smith's murder.

Now, the shitty thing about being a pseudononymous blogger writing about an unfolding news story is that, unlike the cops and journalists, I don't get paid to do it. The nice thing is that no one cares what I have to say, and I don't have to worry about libel suits or fucking up a case, so I'm going to come out and say it: Ford had Anthony Smith murdered. At the very least, the Honourable Wife-Beater's poor decision making led to Smith's murder, but I think it's most likely that he directly ordered him killed.

If you think I'm leaping to conclusions, imagine what would happen if Ford, instead of being a multimillionaire white mayor of a major city, was instead a poor 21-year-old black man like the guy he had killed. Would he be in jail now? If he were lucky enough to have a job, would he have kept it for very long once it was proven that he'd committed crimes and taken drugs? Ford is only a free man, making tons of money, and able to keep his job (and not even have to work at it!) because of the race and class privilege that he embodies so completely.

The connections between the HWB and politicians like Hudak and Harper go beyond the fact that they're personally friends. It's something fundamental to the conservative ethos. They are above the law. The law does not apply to them. They can lie, cheat, and kill with impunity, and when they are, on rare occasion, found out, they are given the benefit of the doubt by the police and the media. Ford is a feature, not a bug.

And he had a guy killed to cover up his crack problem.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (eat flaming death)
There's more than I can post about in the short time I have to post, and I'm slightly consumed with watching Jon Stewart discuss the Honourable Wife-Beater, which is fucking amazing. I know I say it a lot, but I still can't quite believe that this is a thing that is happening.

Here's a handy guide to the 97 allegations against Ford. Conveniently divided into categories: Abusing staff, Misuse of taxpayer money, Questionable meetings, St. Patrick's Day, Substance abuse, Drinking and urinating in public places, and Bits and bites.

Bless. The Star, unlike the CBC, is not playing softball. Yes, they're focusing more on the drugs and cunnilingus than the murder—or the murderous policies—but they are at least linking it back to his politics and exposing his lies about saving money.

Today, Ford showed up at a middle school. No one was impressed.

You know you're complete shit when even George fucking Bush is making fun of you.

A few days ago, a friend of mine, who worked in harm reduction, had some insightful things to say about the narrative around Ford's addition problems. Some of us begged him to post them publicly so that we could share what I think is a really vital discussion with others, so he did. If you read one Ford-related article today, read this one.

Meanwhile, Ford's buddy Harper is taking heat as the RCMP investigates the Senate scandal. To distract from the fact that Canada's Conservatives are finally facing the music for their many, many crimes, LOOK HARPER GOT A CHINCHILLA. That I'm sure he won't eat. I mean, he named it and everything.

I think he looks hungry.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (red flag over TO)
Fuck me, but the SUN is fun to read lately. Everything is fun to read. This is honestly more than I could have ever dreamed would happen when the Honourable Wife-Beater was elected mayor three years ago.

Today's revelations: The Sweary Video, in which a drunken, probably high Ford threatens to kill some dude. Anthony Smith? Any number of Star reporters? Who the fuck knows?

What we do know is it's not The Second Video (the first, obviously, being the Infamous Crack Video). The Second Video is by all accounts a sex tape. Sorry about that mental image.

The other revelation (beyond that the entire Ford family is nuts) is that he had a guy severely beaten in jail for pissing him off. Because that's how our Honourable Wife-Beater rolls.

Holy. Fuck.

Things I want to know:

1. Did Ford have Anthony Smith murdered? I think yes.
2. Who else is in the sex tape? The answer is probably those two girls from St. Patrick's Day. Probably.
3. Is this all going to end in a bloody shootout? I think so.
4. If not, what the fuck will it take to get this guy booted from office?
5. Don't you think he looks tired?

Meanwhile, I believe we all should be emphasizing that the crack video and its fallout is the political equivalent of busting Al Capone for tax evasion. Keep talking about his policies, guys, particularly those around harm reduction. Drug-addled insanity is not a bug of austerity measures and conservative policy; it's a feature. The Federal Tories know it and they're pissing their pants. These people are the global elite—they live above the law, raking in the profits from the War on Drugs while snorting up with hookers in hotel bathrooms. Ford's sole mistake was crossing lines of race and class to do the wrong kind of coke.

thug life photo thuglifefords_zpsacb903c0.jpg

ETA: [ profile] symbioid's comment reminded me of another detail I'd neglected to mention, WHICH IS THE NUMBER OF PROFESSIONAL WRESTLERS SHOWING UP AT CITY HALL LATELY. Because what? First Iron Sheik appeared and challenged Ford to a fight (previously he had arm-wrestled Hulk Hogan in a desperate attempt to save his political career), then Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake came to try to stage an intervention. And was asked to leave.

Just. What.

Federally, let's not forget that the Liberals are just as bad. Justin Trudeau, our Canuckistani equivalent of feudal royalty, made a loltastic misstep with his $250-a-head ladies-only networking event. Ladies! What's your favourite virtue? And isn't Justin's hair dreamy? Just read the link; I'm chiming in late and the internet's already all over this one.

 photo thebestsystemthereis_zpsbdea1584.jpg
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (red flag over TO)
Shorter Rob Ford: "I am so sincerely sorry that I got caught."

Another good twist: The Honourable Wife-Beater hired a hacker to destroy the crack tape.

This is totally my favourite, though. Faced with irrefutable proof that the Laughable Bumblefuck smoked crack, hung out with gangbangers, and lied about it all, his other head, Dougie, goes on the attack, calling for police chief Bill Blair to step down.

Note: Bill Blair should have stepped down over the G20 debacle and almost certainly covered up evidence to protect the Fords in the past. It's one of those situations that I really enjoy in fiction where both sides are really evil and you are rooting for them both to destroy each other in the most bombastic possible explosion.

God this is good. I love living in Toronto.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (red flag over TO)
This is—

I don't even know how to begin this post. Cynic that I am, I actually did not, in my heart of hearts, ever think that I would get to make it.

The Crack Video exists. The cops have it. There are actually two crack videos. There is zero doubt that it is Ford. Lisi's been re-arrested for extortion in connection with the video.

The Honourable Wife-Beater has not yet resigned and says he has no reason to, and the police have not yet charged him.

The complete police report, which has a lot blacked out and which I admittedly have not had a chance to read, is available here.

I believe I called the cops having the crack video ages ago, and I concur with the theory held by [ profile] frandroid and others that this has to do with Ford alienating Blair over the police budget.

But regardless, for the first time in my memory, the Toronto police have done something useful.

Guys? This is the best day ever. It's time for a parade of happy macros, though to be honest there is no macro in the world that can truly express how happy I am at the moment.

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[Poll #1941396]

Now excuse me, folks, I have about a million e-mails to get through.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (red flag over TO)
Following the arrest of his druggie, wife-beating buddy, the Toronto police have formed a special squad to investigate the Honourable Wife-Beater and his sketchy associates.

That was what the homicide detective was doing there when they arrested Lisi, I guess. He's heading up the squad.

Toronto cops, who are corrupt as all fuck, have had a record in the past of covering for Ford; he publicly breaks the law and they never charge him. There's a strong chance they have the crack video and are sitting on it. It's likely that the purpose of the investigation is to clear him, but then again, there's a chance that he's actually done something so serious that they can't cover it up anymore.

On an unrelated note, I learned how to make animated gifs, so here's one of Alex Jones in a Gorn mask and a top hat ranting about fluoride and Obamacare:

alex jones in a dinosaur mask photo fluoride_zps7e02eea7.gif

The whole video is worth a watch.

Guys, there is so much crazy in the world that sometimes I feel completely sane.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (red flag over TO)
The Honourable Wife-Beater is in Texas at the moment (sorry, Texans; we know you guys have your share of loathsome politicians but could you maybe keep these ones too) but his troubles are hardly over. His buddy, occasional driver, and reported dealer got busted in a raid.

Now, the charges sound minor (other than the conspiracy), and let's face it, well-to-do white guys who pal around with mayors do not get busted for pot. So the cops were looking for something else in the raids. CP24 reported the presence of a homicide detective at the scene. Most interesting is this:

The Toronto Star previously reported that Lisi had been searching for a video that allegedly showed the mayor smoking what appeared to be crack cocaine.

This could get exciting again! I still very much believe that a copy of the crack video exists, and it can't stay buried forever.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Behemoth (Master&Margarita))
So let's recap:

Toronto police shoot a probably-mentally-disturbed teenager on an empty street car, nine times, then Taser him to make sure he's good and dead.

It gets caught on video and posted. People, for once, actually lose their shit and demand an open discussion about police brutality and training, particularly in regards to people with mental illnesses (Sammy Yatim was far from the first mentally ill person killed by police).

Some morons ask moronic questions like "why didn't they shoot him in the leg?" and "why didn't they just Tase him?"

One, but only one, of the cops is charged.

The Liberals have a solution: Arm ALL the cops with Tasers.

I shouldn't have to explain why this is a terrible idea, but here goes:

• Tasers are not a substitute for guns. They are a substitute for discussion.

Confronted with a volatile situation, a cop will generally go for the maximum possible force, which is why you see them Tasing and pepper-spraying unarmed protesters all the time. If a cop actually believes he's in a lethal situation, he's not going to fuck around with "less-lethal" (a misnomer, see also Robert Dziekanski) force.

• One of the cops in the Yatim shooting did have a Taser, which he used only after the kid had been shot multiple times.

• Cops still aren't being instructed in de-escalation techniques or awareness of mental health issues. They're just being rewarded with yet another toy that they can use to brutalize the population.

• The ultimate problem here is not what kind of firepower the cops are packing, but the culture of thuggery and lawlessness that pervades the police as an institution. They're untouchable, above the law, they know it, and the only oversight body that exists is primarily composed of ex-cops who still stick to the code of their gang. Yatim's killing wouldn't have ruffled a feather if someone hadn't caught it on tape, and the sole reason why this one cop is being charged at all is because of the public outcry.

Basically, we have an out-of-control, racist gang that is more heavily armed than any other gang in the city, and the powers that be are slapping band-aids on the problem. Electric, weapon-shaped band-aids that are perfectly capable of killing someone. Way to go!
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (eat flaming death)
In lieu of providing actual content (outrage burnout continues at pace), here's what I'm reading this morning.

I won't link anything about Syria, Egypt, or the two Canadians under arrest in Cairo, because those sorts of horrors are above my level of cope right now and there's plenty of more intelligent discussion about it elsewhere.


• Jezebel has a good post on how not to react to Chelsea Manning's announcement that she's Chelsea Manning. I'm lucky enough to be shielded, by virtue of currently being within my little progressive bubble and having a strict policy of not reading the comments since Manning's outrageous sentencing a few days ago, but I'm aware that there's some serious stupid out there. The discrepancy between her treatment and that of rapists, murderers, and war criminals is so infuriating that I can't even begin to put it in words—add transphobia and misogyny into the mix and you have a perfect storm of asshattery.

• On a related note, here's a long read about Manning, American institutions, and the internet. (Written before her sentencing and the official announcement of her gender identity, so the article uses male pronouns.)

“Why wasn’t I consulted?” is the fundamental question of post-network democracy, and the fundamental question of the Internet, to which the state mechanisms have so far replied: “Who the hell do you think you are?”

• Locally, some more on the shooting of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim, murdered by pigs on a Toronto streetcar. One pig (not the one who tased the dying kid after he'd been shot eight times) has been charged, but make no mistake—a pig will not actually be convicted for gunning down a likely-mentally-ill person of colour. This is a concession to the massive outcry following Yatim's murder and is intended, ultimately, to absolve all of the pigs of guilt by finding this pig not guilty.

Tell me I'm wrong, people.

Quebec's proposed religious symbols ban, WTF? Though maybe the Jewish and Muslim communities there, not exactly accustomed to holding hands and singing Kumbaya, will find some common ground in opposing this bullshit. Proof that New Atheism is a continuation of White Man's Burden imperialism by other means.


• I'm getting some lulz out of the food poisoning at the CNE. I mean, isn't the point of eating these things to get food poisoning? The receptionist at my physio place, who is approximately my height and much thinner, apparently eats this kind of shit and announced her intention to try the Cronut despite everyone getting sick from it, and despite a job where she works with health professionals.


What, you mean that community-building is actually more effective at stopping crime than putting cops and surveillance cameras everywhere? You don't say! Will you just check out this lady making community housing better for everyone:

“We go up to the crack dealers, face-to-face, and we say, ‘Hello, how are you?’ says the 56-year-old woman, who uses a wheelchair. “‘It’s a beautiful night out. I love your coat. May we sit with you?’”

Someone wrote a book just for me, apparently. Industrial music, Marx, and the Situationists. I of course immediately placed a hold on it.

Baby Nautilus!


• The title of this article, Anti-Fascist Fitness, made me hope that there was a training regimen to get in shape in order to beat up neo-Nazis, but it's actually not so much about that as about the politics of the fitness industry and the OMGBEESITY panic.

This article, on how to be an ally to people with illness, chronic pain, and invisible disabilities, is quite a good read. I don't like the random capitalization or Tumblr SJW-style language, but the advice itself is useful and certainly would have been worth distributing to certain people *cough*co-workers*cough*. Especially the bits on being "the doctor," "the parent," and "the worshipper," all of which I've had to deal with in abundance.

Read, discuss if you find 'em interesting.


Jul. 30th, 2013 01:09 pm
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (gunfight at carnegie hall)
Last Saturday, an 18-year-old boy named Sammy Yatim, brandishing a small knife, ordered everyone off a downtown streetcar. A crowd of cops surrounded the scene. After making no attempt to de-escalate the situation, the cops yelled at him to drop the knife, then shot him nine times. As he lay dying, they tasered him. At no point was anyone other than Sammy in danger—the streetcar was empty other than him.

Sammy, like most of us, wasn't an angel. It's suspected that he was having some sort of psychiatric episode, though he had no history of psychiatric illness. If this is the case, he wouldn't be the first mentally ill person to be gunned down by police. Nor would he be the first person of colour.

This killing, unlike most incidents of police brutality, has a twist: It was caught on video. You can watch it here (warning—the video depicts a teenager being murdered):

Bless surveillance from below—otherwise, these cops would get away scot-free like they normally do. Instead, the city's up in arms—there was a huge rally yesterday and another scheduled for August 13th. Even the usually kneejerk pro-cop Rosie DiManno voiced criticisms. Despite copious evasion and use of the passive voice on the part of police chief Bill Blair, one of the officers was suspended. (With pay, of course.)

Lest we get too hopeful that one of the thugs in blue will actually face consequences by gunning down a kid who was no threat to anyone other than himself, keep in mind that the SIU, which investigates incidents where cops kill or seriously injure civilians, is almost exclusively composed of former cops, and they protect their own. According to a Star investigation:

In its 20-year history, the SIU has conducted at least 3,400 investigations and laid criminal charges after only 95 of them, according to a Star analysis. The SIU does not track what happens to those it charges. But the Star has, and found only 16 officers have been convicted of a crime. Only three have seen the inside of a jail — as inmates.

The power and unearned respect that we afford cops in this culture is just staggering. They operate as a criminal gang here, armed and above the law—if I were a betting woman, I'd wager that none of these cops are going to face any real consequences for needlessly taking this young man's life. That there is any protest at all is heartening—a sign that there are at least some of us willing to demand justice and accountability. But I'm glumly cynical that there will ever come a day that cops are subject to the same rules as everyone else.

By the way, it is still legal to film police, despite what they'd have you think. I encourage everyone to do so when they witness abuses of police power. It's not much of a defence, but it's the only one we have.


sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)

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