Policing the virus…

April 22, 2021

CBC News – Adam Carter
Ford apologizes after public backlash to enhanced police powers, playground closures

The police have been stopping people and cars to inquire why persons are out in public.  Bridges into Ontario from Quebec, vacation spots like Wasaga Beach, public playgrounds, have all had questionable legal encounters with police, and in some cases police orders simply beyond the powers of police, however enhanced.  Municipal police have been less responsive than the Ontario Provincial Police and have announced they will not assume any additional police roles with individual members of the public in the pandemic.  In an era filled with demands to defund police, the virus response may well be an opportunity to review the community’s public health approach / strengths and change the role of police in our public lives, instead of an opportunity to criminalize the public.  Why do we even go there? https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/doug-ford-ontario-covid-19-news-conference-1.5997521  Related article:  Toronto Police Services – COVID-19: The Toronto Police Service to launch dedicated enforcement teams in each Division to focus on large gatherings   http://torontopolice.on.ca/newsreleases/49703   Related article: Wasaga Sun – Ian Adams  VIDEO: ‘We’re gonna make it rain with tickets’: Wasaga OPP officers send renters packing back to Toronto   https://www.simcoe.com/news-story/10377314-video-we-re-gonna-make-it-rain-with-tickets-wasaga-opp-officers-send-renters-packing-back-to-toronto/   Related article: Kristyn Anthony  ‘The cop pushed him:’ Gravenhurst skate park witness describes now viral confrontation between child, police – Officer now on desk duty as Peel Regional Police investigate April 18 incident  https://www.simcoe.com/news-story/10377467–the-cop-pushed-him-gravenhurst-skate-park-witness-describes-now-viral-confrontation-between-child-police/   Related article: National Post – Devika Desai   New directive allows officers to ID children in public gathering, Peel police say after incident – Peel Regional police are investigating after a video showed an OPP officer appear to assault a young boy at a skate park in Gravenhurst, Ont.   https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/ontario-police-can-id-children-if-part-of-public-gathering-peel-police?utm_term=Autofeed&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Twitter#Echobox=1619023071

 Lawyer’s Daily – John Schofield
Ontario Superior Court urges deferral of proceedings due to stay-at-home order

This development has to be seen as a most unusual legal situation; The Ontario Superior Court is saying it will delay all Covid-19 cases in order not to create a further threat to health in requiring courts to gather for these purposes.  “Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice has announced that, effective immediately, it will defer as many matters as possible due to the current, province wide stay-at-home order… The deferral decision includes virtual hearings and is intended to reduce the number of court staff, counsel or parties required to leave their homes to participate in court proceedings, the court said in an April 20 notice to the profession and public.” https://www.thelawyersdaily.ca/criminal/articles/26177/ontario-superior-court-urges-deferral-of-proceedings-due-to-stay-at-home-order?nl_pk=40ed8ea4-637a-4d76-870f-04f0eeae7de8&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=criminal   Court Instruction:  https://www.ontariocourts.ca/scj/notices-and-orders-covid-19/court-proceedings-notice/

Toronto Star – Amira Elghawaby
Shooting of citizens a catalyst for rethinking whether all police need guns

“Earlier this month, the municipal party that governs Montreal passed a motion calling on the city to “review the need for all police officers to carry a firearm, and set in motion a pilot project for this purpose.”  What an overwhelming question to the gun culture (and how refreshing to any Canadian who remembers when police, including the RCMP, did not carry guns on daily duty.)  The discussion around redefining policing and police roles, who could do the myriads of task presently visited on police, may have found a good starting place.  Says Elghawaby about the fear that characterizes the racist relationship between police and a person of colour:  “Part of the fear stems from the weaponization of our police services, which is taken for granted as a given. It’s assumed that police will have guns and that power poses particular risk to those who are more likely to find themselves at the other end of a barrel.”  Some, like Elghawaby, also want attention drawn to the militarization of police well beyond community service.  https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2021/04/20/shooting-of-citizens-a-catalyst-for-rethinking-whether-all-police-need-guns.html?source=newsletter&utm_content=a09&utm_source=ts_nl&utm_medium=email&utm_email=404CAADEF7EB839FC77B1B04F0C251E1&utm_campaign=top_52383

CTV News – Jim Bronskill, Canadian Press
Criminal pardons would be less expensive, easier to get under Liberal budget plan

The link first traces the present pardon or record suspension set-up and then describes the changes the new Liberal budget brings, though with broad strokes, still lacking in the details.  “The new Liberal budget proposes to provide $88.2 million over five years, starting this fiscal year, with $13 million ongoing, to the Parole Board of Canada, the RCMP and Public Safety Canada…It says the funding would reduce application fees, create an online application portal and support community organizations that help people navigate the pardon application process… The government also says it plans to amend the Criminal Records Act to make pardons more accessible to those who have served their sentences and are living law-abiding lives.”   https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/criminal-pardons-would-be-less-expensive-easier-to-get-under-liberal-budget-plan-1.5393866

Centre des Services de Justice Réparatrice –
Create a mail-art for the CSJR’s 20th anniversary

What’s mail art?  A post card with a supportive message!  “Mail art is an artistic correspondence where both the envelope and the contents become an artistic expression of support placing equal value on text and image. This form of expression was inspired by the practices of soldiers during the war.  They would draw on postcards and envelopes sent to their families to share what they were not able to express with words and in order to avoid censure… Mail art often uses the following mediums: collage, photocopies, seals, stamps, visual work on the envelope, scripture, typewriters, stencils, stationery, adhesives, etc.”  Check the link for further information and the rules for the artwork.  http://csjr.org/2021/04/create-a-mail-art-for-the-csjrs-20th-anniversary/

 Equal Justice Initiative (US) –
U.S. Supreme Court Rules Racial Bias “Inevitable” in Criminal Justice System

This web site is part of the efforts of Bryan Stevenson (author of Just Mercy) to tell the stories of the indignities – and pain – suffered by Black people that so much forms part of the current status quo in the repeated and seemingly uncontrollable killing by police of Black men, women and children.  This one reminder forces all to ask why nothing has been done. “On April 22, 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a Black man’s death penalty appeal grounded in claims of racial inequality and instead accepted proven racial sentencing disparities as “an inevitable part of our criminal justice system.”  https://calendar.eji.org/racial-injustice/apr/22   Related article: Vox.com – Li Zhou    The uncertain prospects for police reform in the Senate, explained – Lawmakers are searching for a compromise on qualified immunity that may not materialize.    https://www.vox.com/22388199/george-floyd-police-reform-bill-senate-explained   Related article: WDEL (US, Delaware) – Amy Cherry   Civil rights, social justice advocates to push General Assembly to make police reforms   https://www.wdel.com/news/civil-rights-social-justice-advocates-to-push-general-assembly-to-make-police-reforms/article_d668df72-a2cf-11eb-b867-eb27b50a8201.html   Related article: Middletown Transcript – Police reform campaign in Delaware launched to pressure General Assembly  https://www.middletowntranscript.com/story/news/politics/2021/04/21/police-reform-push-underway-delaware-pressure-general-assembly/7319580002/   Related article: The Spokesman.com (Spokane, Wash)  Shawn Vestal   Instead of just ignoring calls for change, prosecutor wants to shut them down  https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2021/apr/21/shawn-vestal-instead-of-just-ignoring-calls-for-ch/