Me and the Bear…

May 21, 2021 

APTN News – Brett Forester
Blackstock gears up for latest Federal Court fight to end ‘human rights tragedy’ against First Nations kids – Ottawa seeks judicial review of rulings that compensate victims of the discriminatory CFS system, extend eligibility for Jordan’s Principle

Cindy Blackstock – and her intrepid Spirit Bear – have been tireless in pursuing the federal government payments due the First Nations children but the feds have also been tireless in court fights over these payments. Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, says: “What we know from the government is that they try to use legal technicalities to try and get out of their obligations towards children… “I don’t think they’re going to win. They’ve lost every single legal hearing except for one, and that was overturned on appeal. So the kids and the bears are winning the case so far.”

Global News – David Atkin
ANALYSIS: Diab case exposes dangerous flaws in Canada’s extradition process

The Diab case seems, like the Energizer bunny, in it for the long run.  Hassan Diab is the Carleton University professor of sociology in Ottawa charged by the French government with terrorism in 2008, extradited under severe controversy, locked up in France for three years mostly in solitary, released and returned to Canada.  The charges stem back to a 1980 bombing of a Paris synagogue.  Now a high court has overturned the lower one which in 2018 released Diab who now faces possibly yet another extradition and French trial.  Say the critics led by defense lawyer Don Bayne:  “The low threshold required for a foreign state to terminate the liberty of a Canadian and have the Canadians sent to them in custody is very low, shockingly low.” The affair is now 14 years old and still running.

Globe and Mail – Tom Cardosa
Bias behind bars: A Globe investigation finds a prison system stacked against Black and Indigenous inmates

The link is for an article by Tom Cardosa of the Globe and Mail who has just won a national Journalist of the Year Award for his investigative piece first published on October 24, 2020.  We offer our congratulations and the link to the article:

Interrupting Criminalization (US) – Mimi E. Kim, Creative Interventions, California State University, Long Beach Megyung Chung, AM Chung Consulting, Shira Hassan, Just Practice Andrea J. Ritchie, Interrupting Criminalization
Defund the Police – Invest in Community Care: A Guide to Alternative Mental Health Crisis Responses

This 56 page downloadable pdf is as grass roots as you can get, from California, and with a host of community based organizations contributing to the final report.  The focus is on mental health and the report presents a number of models already up and running.  Additionally the report clarifies what is meant by terms that have been assumed into the defunding issue.  The report also offers a broad view of the legislative landscape around the issues in California.

 Justice (Columbia, South America) – Mary de la Libertad Diaz Marquez
Why Colombia is a pioneer in restorative justice

This is a fascinating article by a civil rights lawyer Diaz Marquez affirming the use of the restorative justice victim centered approach to help resolve the civil unrest and immense justice problems in Columbia.  “Above all,” she says, “One of the main objectives is to provide victims and perpetrators with the conditions to repair the broken relationships between them and their communities.”  It’s not about crime.  It’s about people learning to live with one another again.  The process involves what she calls a mixture of retributive or sanctions approved by the victim / community) and restorative justice principles.

 The Marshall Project (US)
The Marshall Project Wins Two Deadline Club Awards – Honored for our documentaries “Tutwiler” and “Anatomy of Hate.”

The first award winner, Tutwiler (33 minutes), is a short documentary about birth in prison, “is a rare look at the lives of expectant mothers inside a notorious women’s prison in Alabama.”  The second, Anatomy of Hate (about 30 minutes), co-produced with Time Magazine, “follows the families and community of three Muslim college students fatally shot in 2015 by a White neighbor in, exploring the reality of hate in America and its nuances in the eyes of the law.”  Both are accessible from the link.   Related article: The Marshall Project (US) –  Amelia Thomson-Devaux, Laura Bronner and Damini Sharma    Police Misconduct Costs Cities Millions Every Year. But That’s Where The Accountability Ends. If not for inconsistent and shoddy record-keeping, we might know if settlements make a difference in police misconduct.  (“Our analysis shows the cities have spent more than $3 billion to settle misconduct lawsuits over the past 10 years.”)

Globe and Mail – Sean Fine
Ontario Attorney-General won’t contest appeal of sexual-assault victim convicted of violating publication ban

This case created a startling proof that sexual assault victims are often victimized all over again by the court system to which they are subjected.  The lesson here is not only the re-victimization but also the resort to a ‘technicality,’ the failure to fix the way the law was manipulated by the offender, and the lack of apology from courts and attorney general.  The case also illustrates that there is trauma harm well beyond the conviction, the fines. Robin Parker, defence lawyer for the appeal:  She told the court that no crime was committed and that the case should never have gotten as far as it did…The law is clear that it is not a breach of a publication ban to e-mail a decision to a small group.” Parker wondered “how this case got this far without someone asking, ‘Is this in the public interest?’ ”   Or, we may add, in the interest of the original victim in the case.   Related article: Labour (UK) – Jake Richards   Planning to tackle violence against women? Let’s talk about our prisons   Labour in UK has a recently published Green Paper entitled Ending Violence against Women and Girls:  (A 27 page downloadable pdf.)

The Canadian
VICTORY FOR IMMIGRANTS! Biden announces a blow to ICE by closing detention centers for undocumented immigrants

Two immigration detention centers, long in the news for allegations of mistreatment of the detainees, have been ordered closed by the Biden administration.  With the closure of the two facilities, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas has promised a review of other facilities for similar practices.  “Mayorkas ended federal contracts with the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office, in Massachusetts, and the Irwin County Detention Center, in Georgia, where dozens of undocumented women reported having undergone unnecessary gynecological surgeries, including forced sterilizations.”

Washington Post (US) – Hans Riemer
Opinion: How Montgomery County is working to create safe, police-free schools

Montgomery County is in Maryland and already has police presence in its high schools.  Two years ago the board heard a motion to put the police in the middle schools as well.  The board is now delaying that motion in order to assess the police presence – 23 of them – in the high schools.  The problem is a disproportionality of interaction with the Black and Brown students.  So rather than the 2.0 version of police presence – the community resource officer – the board wants to look at something less criminalizing of these students: “We can achieve the vision of safe, police-free schools if we hire and train staff — and engage students — as a nonviolent safety team of security staff, community intervention workers, violence interrupters, peace-builders, restorative justice coordinators, behavior interventionists, school aides, counselors, nonteaching assistants and other support staff.”