photo: Jackman Chiu
When Toronto police chief Bill Blair proudly laid out his spread of seized weapons to defend his cops’ heavy-handed actions against citizens during the G20 summit, it was a singularly Rumsfeldian moment, a farce that only the easily swayed in the media would swallow. “There were no further acts of violence (after Saturday), and the weaponry that you see displayed before you today is just a small portion of the evidence that we gathered of what is most certainly a criminal conspiracy.” he told reporters. But there were several holes in his story, and many in the press (to their credit) didn’t bite. Several of the “weapons” he gushed over weren’t even involved in the G20 protests at all. For example (and this is my favourite), it turns out that the chain mail and blunted arrows (seriously!) that were center-piecing Blair’s haul were taken from a hapless live-action gaming geek on a train heading to some Tolkien nerdfest on the other side of town.
From the Globe:
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.
Mr. Barrett said he was “appalled” at the placement of his chain-mail beneath a machete. He regularly takes public transit from his Whitby, Ont., home to Centennial Park to play the game, called Amtgard, while wearing the 85-pound armour and is worried people will think: “Oh my God, that’s one of the terrorists from G20.”
Er, not people. Just cops. Other weapons seized (according to the Globe), included “gas masks, cans of spray paint, a replica gun, saws, pocket knives, a staple gun, a drill, a slingshot, chains and handcuffs”. Save for the replica gun (a stupid thing to bring to a protest), this is a pretty weak cache. And since when were spray paint and drills classified as weapons? Ah, but what about the crossbow and chainsaw set prominently on Blair’s display table, you ask? Totally unrelated to the G20 summit protests. It’s what most people would classify as a joke, wholly in poor taste.
I’m not against cops (though there are some individual ones I’d like off the streets), and I’m certainly not a fan of the misled black clad anarchists who treat dissent as a lifestyle, but this dog and pony show was so ridiculous that it dented the public trust. How can Canadians have faith in the people charged with protecting them if they keep on making stuff up to cover their own asses? Nearly a thousand Torontonians were arrested/detained during the summit, many on phantom grounds. Some were just swept off the street while shopping and walking their dogs to be unceremoniously dumped in pens. A lot of questions are being raised in the wake of the weekend, which are being handled in a way British Columbians are very familiar with. The Toronto Star reports:
Blair has set up an internal task force to review law enforcement actions during the summit. When finished, the report will be presented to the Toronto Police Services Board, where civilian representatives can look at the tactics and ask questions (my italics).
Questions. Like who gets fired.