What the fuck SPVM? You guys we’re the no.5 top local twitter feed on Cult #Mtl’s BOM list; frankly I expected better.
Le Devoir is reporting that the man wrestled to the ground in the video above is the proprietor of a business on The Main, part of which was closed to traffic Thursday for the MURAL festival. It was a typical street fair, in which the businesses habitually extend their services out onto the street and we’ve seen on The Main countless times. It’s crowded and loud, not my cup of tea, but something I think we’re all quite accustomed to.
Apparently another business owner thought the man (owner of or somehow involved with La Vieille Europe) was playing his music too loud and called 911.
In any event, according to police spokesperson Ian LafreniÃ¨re five constables were dispatched to deal with the ‘large and well-built’ individual – this is standard practice, apparently, and after about eight minutes of negotiation, the proprietor refused to turn down the music and was ordered to place his hands behind his back, an order the mena refused.
It’s at this point that a smaller, more cowardly constable decided to use a choke-hold to bring down the man. Again, according to LafreniÃ¨re, this is standard operating procedure for the SPVM.
He then relates that this incident will be reviewed (internally) and that Montreal police aren’t infallible.
Well isn’t that dandy.
Let’s step back – a noise complaint necessitated an arrest?
How would you react?
Handcuffing someone (without their consent) is a major violation of individual liberty. In the case of a dangerous criminal it’s thoroughly justified, but for a noise complaint?
Noise complaints typically result in a fine that’s all too often contested in court.
But five constables wrestling a man to the ground with a choke-hold? That’s excessive.
The crowd was, as you might imagine, passive and resorted to filming this act of police brutality rather than intervene to help. I can understand why. Just last year we got a chance to witness a mass of police brutality incidents, and it hasn’t been too long since the SPVM just up and shot somebody under questionable circumstances. A hospital worker, a teenager, a homeless man – the SPVM has a bad history when it comes to needlessly killing Montrealers.
In any event, a damned shame I’m glad was caught on video. The SPVM has been moving away from acting in the public’s benefit for a while now, and the secretive ‘Police Brotherhood’ has proven itself unwilling to cooperate with civilian authorities to review practices and allegations (all too often with widely disseminated video evidence) of police brutality.
Which makes me wonder – with the powerful organized crime syndicates, street gangs and all manner of criminal problems we have in this city, why isn’t the SPVM making more of its resources available to combat the real criminal problems in our city? Dispatching five constables to take a man down over a noise complaint is simply a blatant waste of resources and abuse of the people.
And while some are saying it would have been so simple (and a non issue) if the man had simply complied and but his arms behind his back, I can only say this – how much individual freedom are the people willing to lose? What are we willing to compromise for the benefit of the police?
With the NSA spying scandal unravelling it’s becoming increasingly clear that Western governments (the supposed guarantors of liberty and personal freedom) have in fact been spying on their own populations and people all over the globe through electronic means for quite some time, all without any oversight or public knowledge. Well haven’t things changed now – the United States has been working out of a Stasi handbook with more sophisticated tools. And though they, much like our own government, military and ‘law-enforcement’ officials have said this is to keep us safe and secure from terrorism, they only seem to be capable of taking down the dumbest, most inept terrorists. At the local level, it seems as though police – who are supposed to serve and protect the public – are instead being used to oppress and monitor them.
This isn’t what I signed up for.
Montreal needs a transparent police force that brutalizes less and thinks a bit more before they act.
The SPVM said no, that divulging such information could compromise their crime-fighting efforts to such a degree they’d be starting from scratch. After a bit of a back and forth the issue has wound up in front of the Access to Information Commission which has so far balked at even reviewing the case at all (which makes me wonder why they wouldn’t – what do these commissions do otherwise?)
During discussions the police lawyer argued that making this information public may cause a panic, as though she knew the SPVM’s argument stats published in the English-language daily might ‘tip-off’ common criminals and derail their efforts was a bit short on substance.
The Gazette has a point – this information should be public (and I’d argue far more accessible as well).
The point isn’t so much to warn riders of where they ought to keep their guard up (hint – always be aware of your surroundings, free life pro-tip for ya), but rather to feed a knowledge-hungry citizenry the vital statistical data it needs to study and assess the actions of its elected officials and civil servants.
I want to know where crime is happening to see if the cops are doing their jobs, to see what might be facilitating the crime at those specific stations. Is it the poverty of a nearby neighbourhood? Or is it bad station design?
As I mentioned earlier, the cops made an effort and provided what they call data, though it didn’t quite measure up. For one, they only provided limited information about each of the lines on average, grouping the interchange stations (like Lionel-Groulx, Snowdon, Berri-UQAM etc.) together with the Yellow Line to create some kind of an equilibrium, this despite having highly detailed information for every station at all hours of the day and night.
And if the Rob Ford scandal is any indicator, the SPVM should be concerned. They run risk of creating a panic by inferring the data would cause a panic. Despite the data’s still secret, unseen status, it may be able to damage police efforts anyways; nothing quite gets under the skin of a young journalist like denied information, and this city is swimming in reporters.
A couple of nights back I was having a smoke in Cabot Square, arguably our city’s most dysfunctional public place, before a flick at the Forum. I think Cabot Square could be a great place, but a number of changes would have to be made, both inside and out.
As I was strolling around in the rain I noticed there was scarcely any grass, just lots of mud, gravel and poorly defined walkways. Immense and surprisingly deep puddles gave way to muddy tracks – who the hell had been driving through the park? It’s no wonder the park’s in such poor shape – someone’s been driving through it.
A couple of hours later I emerged from the Forum and got my answer – squad cars. I took the photo above, apologies for the poor quality.
I’ve seen the SPVM pull this manoever before. In lieu of parking the car and patrolling on foot, they drive through. More efficient I suppose, but it tears the shit out of the lawn/grass/paths/everything. When I was taking the pic two squad cars had lined up their driver’s side windows in the way cops do to maximize their field of view. I’ve seen the same at Place du Canada and in the middle of Place Emilie-Gamelin.
Cabot Square is one of those places that just doesn’t seem to work. Most people avoid it if they can, as it’s often overrun with drunks, addicts, pushers and a hodgepodge of local loonies. It’s poorly maintained and in the centre of an urban neighbourhood in a prolonged transformational phase. It hasn’t been renovated in a while and there’s no plan in place to fix it up (to the best of my knowledge), yet the city continues to dump seemingly unwanted sculptures there.
On the rare occasion the space is empty you can appreciate it for what it might be. It’s not hard to imagine what it would look like if the pathways were well defined, the square well-lit, with fresh, thick grassy areas, benches and picnic tables. It’s still located in the middle of a very active urban pole – there’s no reason it should look this bad and function so poorly.
But then again, we don’t treat it very well.
The cops shouldn’t drive their cars through it – it’s disrespectful, it’s actively ruining an already marred public space.
What I find ironic is that the cops who are doing this are ostensibly doing so to get the bums, drunks and roving bands of teenagers out, as it’s perceived that those groups are responsible for the damage to the square. And in the process render the space somewhat inaccesible. Who’s going to go relax on a bench next to some squad cars?
Cabot Square has a few other problems which, if corrected, could allow Montreal police to survey the area just as well, but without having to drive through park to keep an eye on things. If the space is ever renovated I’d hope they consider giving it the Dorchester Square treatment, which is to say better lighting and well-defined pathways to say the least. The city also elected to reduce the total number of trees in that square during it’s 2009-2010 renovation, an unpopular move that ultimately allowed for better lines-of-sight across the square.
Another issue – the bus shelters. This one’s a bit of a head scratcher as I can’t quite figure the rationale behind building many small shelters when the STM used to have one large shelter that served all the many buses stopping at the terminus. Whereas many smaller shelters invariably become public toilets, one large shelter could feature a public restroom, security and a control booth. Moreover it could be heated. Why the larger terminus building was demolished is a total mystery to me.
Final thought, and I know I’ve said it before, but I really hope Dawson ends up occupying the Children’s Hospital when it eventually moves to its new home at the Glen Yards campus. If this were to happen, Cabot Square would transform rather quickly as it became a satellite of the college’s campus, a backyard of sorts. Even though this in and of itself might not get the city to renovate the space, at the very least the presence of a lot of students will make it a little more inviting and result in the space being used a little more than it currently is.
Well, the first post on this site from someone other than myself. My first contributor!
And he’d prefer to remain anonymous…
Perhaps it’s best. He’s been working for the city for a while now, and has the pulse of the city like few people I know (though, given his job, it’s not surprising he’s so knowledgeable, few would care to ask his opinion. There are many people invisible to politicians). We got into a conversation about the merits of Louise Harel as mayor, and he lent me an earful about her and Vision Montreal.
I asked if he’d write an article to express himself and he obliged under the condition of anonymity.
So without further adieu, may I present you l’Heptade du Sainte Louise Harel…