In the wake of the recent onslaught of police brutality and the coinciding militarization of those who are supposed to serve and protect, I have been thinking about violence of this kind in my own community and what that means to my daughter. In Montreal, where I live and where Joanie will be brought up, officers drive Dodge Chargers, a car that’s look and name serve only to intimidate. They certainly don’t inspire thoughts of safety and protection as they carelessly cruise the streets.
In June of this year one such Charger flew through a crosswalk in front of an elementary school where children were about to cross. The officer neglected to put on his sirens and flashers, giving no sign of his intention to speed. A brave staff member of the school, a young janitor, yelled after the car. He admonished the officer for his reckless behaviour. Here’s where the story gets crazy, frighteningly so. The officer, who clearly had no where better to be and thus no reason for his dangerous driving, turned his car around and arrested the janitor, aggressively pushing him against the car. A teacher at the school, stepped in, fearing for the janitor as well as for the impression the police officer left for the children. She told the officer he was hurting the young man and put her hand on his arm. This officer, this oafish buffoon, took the teacher by the throat, put her in handcuffs and charged her with obstructing justice. I must reiterate: this all occurred in front of children.
When this is the kind of behaviour that has come to be common of the police, how am I to teach Joanie that they can be trusted? Who do I tell her to turn to in case of emergency? Of course she’ll learn to call 911, and I know that there are some very terrific officers of the law out there. I’m not advocating living without police, but I am wary of the messages they send out to citizens as they bump around town like brutes from the dark ages. Police should be pillars of the community, role models, not knock offs of the GI Joe action figures I would never give to children.
For more information on this incident watch CBC’s coverage