Monday, July 12, 2010

Shady Bizness

"The poor have to labour in the face of the majestic equality of the law, which forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread."
-Anatole France

The following is a chronological account of events:

Monday June 28th at 2:00pm, 171 Donald St.
-I first noticed the Biz worker and the citizen while the Biz was wrestling the beer can out of the citizen's hand.
-The citizen is first nations, in his 40's, approximately 130 pounds and visibly intoxicated.
-The Biz worker is approximately 30 years old and approximately 280 pounds.
-The Biz worker successfully obtained the beer can and proceeded to pour it out onto the sidewalk before dropping it.
-The citizen curses and the Biz worker shouts "Get out of here!" several times.
-The citizen picks up the emptied beer can and makes a swinging motion with it. He is about five feet away from the Biz worker. Some droplets of beer leave the can and fly in the general direction of the Biz as it is swung by the citizen.
-The Biz worker shouts, "That's assault! You're done!" and charges towards the citizen.
-The Biz worker grabs ahold of the citizen's arms and slams him chest and face first into a nearby low wall while pressing all of his considerable weight into the citizen's back.
-The citizen curses and struggles while the Biz worker radios for backup.
-The Biz worker pulls the citizen back from the wall and then slams him into the wall for the second time.
-The Biz worker shouts "Stop!" several tims while the citizen continues to struggle and curse.
-The citizen reaches backwards and tugs on the Biz worker's shirt.
-The Biz officer says something to the effect of "That's it!" and spins around to body slam the citizen onto the sidewalk head first with all his weight on top of the citizen.
-The citizen screams in pain and struggles to free from the suffocating weight.
-Backup eventually arrives and the citizen is placed in handcuffs before being stood up.
-The citizen's face is half-covered in blood.
-The Biz officer who committed the assault came over to me and took down my contact information.
-I was approximately 15 feet away from the "action" for the entire duration.

Wednesday, June 30th:
-I called Rick (958-4628) from the downtown Biz to register a complaint against the Biz worker that committed the assault.
-I recount the event to Rick.
-Rick tells me that he is aware of the incident and that the board of directors will be notified.
-Rick takes my information in case there are criminal charges laid.
-Rick promises to call me back and update me on what happens to the Biz worker in question.
-Rick tells me that the Biz worker was hired through a diversity program from a first nations group.
-The Biz worker was only hired for the summer and was not previously a Biz volunteer.
-When I suggested that there is something wrong with how they train Biz officers in crisis management and conflict resolution, Rick informed me that the Biz worker in question had not actually recieved his full training yet.

Tuesday, July 6th:
-I contacted the police in order to make a statement/ complaint/ give my information to make sure that if there was a criminal trial that I would be on file as a potential witness.
-I went to the public safety building where the officer at the front desk told me that if I wanted to make a complaint against a Biz worker I would have to call LERA.
-I called LERA and they told me that Biz workers are not sworn officers and are therefore not in their jurisdiction.
-I called the police and informed them that I had been given the wrong information and I would still like to make a complaint/statement.
-The officer on the phone began to interrogate me and asked me indignantly why I had taken so long to call.
-The officer told me that I should call the Biz and let them know because it was not a police matter.
-The officer told me that citizens are often poor judges of what constitutes assault and I should just let the Biz handle it because they know best.
-Eventually, after several minutes of argument and attempts to get me to hang up and allow the Biz to handle it internally, the officer took down my contact information and said he would "look into it" in an unconvincing tone.

This incident demonstrates grave issues on several levels. First, the individual Biz worker was a violent individual and should be charged criminally. Second, the Biz's hiring and training practices are severely flawed. Third, the police do not understand where the Biz falls in terms of jurisdiction and the police make it very difficult to register a complaint. If I was not university educated and relatively thick-skinned I would not have succeeded in getting any sort of satisfactory result with the police. I would have simply hung up and succumbed to their bullying tactics. Obviously, something needs to be done to fix this sad state of affairs. It is not just a few bad apples, this problem is deeply systemic.

Why is having open liquor a crime anyways? How often is it simply an excuse to criminalize and abuse the poor?

I contacted the Biz and was fed platitudes, I contacted the police and was bullied and given misinformation. I contacted the Free Press and was promised coverage on 3 separate occasions but was never contacted back and no story ever appeared. I sent the above to my City Councillor Jenny Gerbasi who sits on the Board of Directors of the Downtown Biz. Hopefully, something will get done.

1 comment:

  1. If you were SOOOOO concerned with the "First Nation" individuals well being, then why did you continue to stand there and observe? You would think, that an individual so pro-active as yourself would step in and involved, instead of watching and then making a few phone calls afterwards. You can write letters and make phone calls and even hold signs but unless you risk something, and get involved in peoples lives, all of that means NOTHING!!