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Killer Cops: Surrey RCMP

Hudson Brooks memorial, Surrey, BC, 7 August 2015.

Hudson Brooks memorial, Surrey, BC, 7 August 2015

As I write this — 01:30 on Friday 24 July — a Surrey RCMP vehicle is sitting outside my house with its red-and-blue lights flashing. The street is quiet now, but earlier it looked like they were having someone’s vehicle taken away on a flat-bed tow truck, “they” being the occupants of at least three police cars.

Fresh in my mind is the shooting and killing of Hudson Daryl Willis Brooks — virtually a neighbour to me, I would assume, the same age as (and a student of the same university attended by) a friend of mine — on 18 July 2015, only six days ago and only six blocks from my home, right outside the RCMP office there. The media is, strangely, quite quiet on this story. I don’t know why this is.

I wasn’t there the night (about this time of the day) Hudson was shot and killed by members of the Surrey RCMP. But as someone who watches this play out in the news far too often and who sees the police on the streets of my community, I come to my own conclusions.

Hudson Brooks memorial, Surrey, BC, 7 August 2015.

Hudson Brooks memorial, Surrey, BC, 7 August 2015: “In God’s Name WHY??? RCMP.”

We’re all familiar with the “cop type”, be they male or female: the puffed out chest, accentuated by the bullet-proof vests they feel the need to wear to protect themselves from people who don’t like cops … hard to imagine why. Whether they’re swaggering into a doughnut shop or into the middle of a “situation”, their swagger is accentuated by their utility belt bristling and jingling with equipment, and the speed with which they implement their unofficial “comply or die” policy. (Said equipment includes not just their side arm, taser, handcuffs, etc., but also all of the other stuff that gets marketed to cops by various businesses that thrive off of their desire to be kitted out with all the latest cool shit: two-way radios, flashlights that double as a weapon to beat someone down, and the ever-present cool sunglasses that mean they don’t have to make eye contact with whomever they’re beating or shooting or intimidating.) And let’s not ignore the trend in recent years to adopt American-style black-based colour schemes in uniforms and car paint jobs (with the notable exception of the RCMP, I should note); clearly nobody cared to conduct anything like a poll or a focus group among ordinary citizens, who find the adoption of such a colour to be vaguely intimidating. But, of course, the cops know this, and anything that makes them more intimidating is perfectly fine with them.

Now, I’m not suggesting the cops don’t need equipment at hand or that they shouldn’t wear bullet-proof vests, but the biggest thing that comes strutting down the street, generally speaking, is not the cop, his or her utility belt or vest, or the black race cars they think they’re driving, but their inflated fucking egos! This is what is demonstrated just about every single time you see a video of a cop behaving badly these days, whether beating an individual or trying to intimidate the crowd that gathers that, one of these days, is going to lynch a cop. This is what was on display the night that Robert Dziekanski was killed by the police at Vancouver International Airport, when “comply or die” was implemented within — what? — about 26 seconds of arrival by the four massive, 747 Jumbo-sized egos that swaggered into the airport terminal and unnecessarily vaulted over barriers they could have walked around. This was what was on display by the Vancouver Police Department when they shot and killed a mentally-challenged guy swinging what some witnesses described as a “stick”. And although it seems that there were no independent witnesses to the lonely death of Hudson Brooks that night, I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that he died within seconds of the cops swaggering onto the scene with their “comply or die” attitude.

No fucking doubt in my mind.

Hudson Brooks memorial, Surrey, BC, 7 August 2015.

Hudson Brooks memorial, Surrey, BC, 7 August 2015

And just like the character assassination the RCMP implemented in the media against Robert Dziekanski in 2007, it was quickly revealed that one of the cops was shot. Days later it was revealed that no weapons other than cop weapons were found at the scene, so Hudson wasn’t armed, it would seem. Hmm, another unarmed and probably innocent citizen — apparently calling out for help, just like Dziekanski was — gunned down by police, this time in the dead of the night (pun not intended) with nobody around to see. What lies will the cops tell about that night? No doubt they’ll say that Hudson went for a gun, or that he was resisting arrest and so had to suffer the consequences of the overarching “comply or die” directive. What kind of testosterone-laden morons (and I use that term to apply equally to all genders of the RCMP and other police forces) are we hiring these days?

Speaking of which, some of the employers of these cops — that would be the tax-paying public — expressed their disgust at their employees by spray-painting graffiti on and around the police station a couple of days later. Of course, the police are actively investigating that heinous crime, something far more serious than the killing of citizens who are more likely in need of help than a bullet.

Anyway, back to the cop who was parked in the road outside my house for anywhere between thirty and sixty minutes in a no-stopping zone this morning. Sure, it’s the middle of the night, there is another lane for traffic to go around, and traffic wasn’t exactly backing up behind him (or her). With the other cops having left the scene it looked to me like this cop was doing paperwork in his car, his bright lights flashing into the windows of all of the surrounding houses where people are trying to sleep. He certainly didn’t seem to be doing any sort of investigative work on the road itself — there was no accident — and he could easily have pulled into the side street (the corner of which he was also dangerously partially blocking) or the shopping centre across the street and turned off his flashing lights. But he didn’t.

Hudson Brooks memorial, Surrey, BC, 7 August 2015.

Hudson Brooks memorial, Surrey, BC, 7 August 2015

There wasn’t any actual swaggering going on, but quite clearly this cop thinks he is more goddamned important than anyone else, and it doesn’t matter to him that he is projecting his massive ego into the houses around him and blocking half the street with it. It’s this kind of attitude that he (or she) and his ilk drag into any interaction with the general public, and which results in tasers or guns being quickly drawn and used. If that was me sitting in my car blocking half the street, perhaps I’d have been on the wrong end of a Surrey RCMP member’s loaded gun tonight.

“Comply or Die”

Yet again we have Canadian police killing civilians, acting as judge, jury and — most importantly — executioner. While we wait for a thorough and impartial investigation — in our dreams — of the shooting of Sammy Yatim in Toronto, as with the killing of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver Airport in 2007 it’s certainly telling to note that the cops had apparently killed him within 39 seconds of arriving on the scene, even as he stood alone inside a tram car! Do the cops not learn anything from their past behaviour?!

Unlike the Dziekanski case though, this cop clearly shot to kill. You don’t fire nine shots into someone expecting that they’ll be providing fingerprints and a mug shot down at the cop shop later. Oh, and just for good measure (kind of a “fuck you, punk”), one of the 23 cops on the scene (because apparently all the thugs in town wanted a piece of the action) then tasered Yatim’s lifeless body, before ironic first aid was performed on him. (Actually, one can’t help but wonder if the taser was deployed only so that the cops could say that they tried to subdue Yatim with it. A little fudging of the time line in the cops’ notes would have been required of course, but that’s OK, as long as the bad guy dies.)

Part of the report on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s The National on 28 July 2013 included an interview with a former Toronto cop who, while being critical of the speed with which Yatim was executed, used the term “Comply or die.” I’d never heard the term before, but it so poetically and succinctly seems to sum up what appears to be the motto of most police forces these days.

Rather than engage the population they’re supposed to protect in order to use “minimum force” and avoid violence — yes, even apparent bad guys with knives need to be engaged unless loss of life is imminent — cops these days seem to be on a rampage, killing, tasering or pepper-spraying anybody that even dares to look at them sideways. It doesn’t even matter that you’ve managed to live for a half century or more without so much as stealing a penny candy as a kid or getting a parking ticket, you too can find yourself on the wrong end of a weapon held by a mentally unstable cop who is miffed at you for not immediately getting down and kissing his jackboots the moment he (or she in the case of “Constable 728”, aka Stefanie Trudeau) barks a command in your direction, even when you hadn’t heretofore even had a reason to note the cop’s presence.

And that last point is important to note. All sorts of people come to the defence of the cops in cases like this for all sorts of reasons, many of whom probably fit into my penny candy / parking ticket description. Based on their life experiences, it’s obvious to them that anyone who incurs the wrath — or even just the attention — of the police is obviously guilty of something. It doesn’t really matter what that “something” is; for these people you’re guilty until proven innocent, and “you must have done something to deserve being shot, tasered or pepper-sprayed.” Or, in the case of completely blameless Buddy Tavares and his assailant RCMP Constable Geoff Mantler, you must have done something to deserve having said jackboot forcibly applied to your lips to assist you in planting the kiss.

That old adage about walking a mile in someone’s shoes comes to mind.

Related to this story but with reference to my previous post about the Canadian media, I found it odd how CBC television news showed pictures of Yatim looking like something of a gangster but had a former Toronto cop on who questioned the speed of the use of force, while Global television news showed pictures of a clean-cut young kid, but had on their own “expert” who said that cops had no choice but to shoot to kill.

RCMP hypocrisy: The video lies, the video tells the truth

The gall! The unmitigated gall!

As anyone who paid the slightest bit of attention to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police killing of Robert Dziekanski knows, the RCMP did their level best to (first of all) hide the video evidence, and then completely discredit it. Despite the fact that any private citizen (i.e., non-cop) caught on video breaking the law would get a one-way “do not stop, do not collect $200, do not pass go” ticket to jail, no expense or red herring was spared by the RCMP in trying to sell to the public the snake oil that the video didn’t tell the real story, and that Mr. Dziekanski really was a great and credible threat to four burly cops as he brandished his weapon of mass destruction: the infamous stapler. The video, they claimed, was less than useless. (This in addition to all of the lies about Dziekanski and the incident itself [not to mention the post-mortem collusion] that they spewed to the media and the Braidwood Inquiry.)

Yet this week, after the editor of the Osoyoos Times related an incident during which he felt he was humiliated (Google cache, local cache) in a guilty-until-proven-innocent road side stop by RCMP Corporal Ryan McLeod, the Officer in Charge BC RCMP Communications (Superintendent Ray Bernoties), gleefully offered video evidence (local cache, now that the RCMP have apparently deleted this press release) which he essentially claims makes a slam dunk case that refutes the claims of editor Keith Lacey. He even smugly adds, “This is the type of transparency British Columbians expect from the RCMP.”

The hypocrisy! The sheer, bald-faced, fucking hypocrisy of the murdering RCMP!

You might almost think the guy was trying to make a sarcastic joke, or the press release was written by Monty Python, if it wasn’t so serious. Yes, Supt. Bernoties, we do expect transparency from the RCMP; one day I hope we’ll see some.

The hypocrisy continues: “This police officer, who you so freely defame using your position …”. Excuse me while I splutter my morning coffee all over my computer screen! The record shows that the RCMP themselves used their position and access to the media to “freely defame” Robert Dziekanski before the video evidence and the testimony of bystanders came to light, and is a textbook example of why we can’t take as gospel what police officers say in support of a charge. (Being a grammar nazi I can’t help but point out that this cop — the top cop for “communications” in BC — doesn’t even seem to know when to use the word “whom” instead of “who”, and later also uses the word “slander” when he should refer to “libel” — a double blow for someone who is supposed to be proficient in both communications and the law. Actually, the whole “letter” reads as if it was written by an eight-year-old getting a D in English class.)

The hypocrisy concludes thusly: “If there was one positive to your negative article, it was a reminder to me of the many baseless and malicious allegations our members must constantly face while carrying out their duties. Fortunately, in this case, the video removes any doubt that the police officer’s actions were professional and respectful.”

Wow. Poor baby. “[B]aseless and malicious allegations” my foot. Before the outrage set in, I was just left dumbfounded.

Keith, you are wrong about one thing in your editorial. You state, “This is a free country, not a police state.” Sorry, but clearly you haven’t noticed that this is no longer true, especially the moment you drive a car onto a public road.

 


 

Updated, 14 August 2015: Linked to local cache of RCMP press release, seeing as it has either been deleted from their website or moved.