Race Based Policing is Confirmed in Court

by Gary McHale - The Regional

July 22, 2009

Although almost every major media outlet in Ontario has already done editorials against the failed policies of the OPP, the public continues to hear from senior OPP officers about how there has been no such thing as Race Based Policing in Caledonia. Thankfully the public doesn't have to accept personal opinion, rumours, hearsay evidence or official OPP statements. The public can turn to court evidence and rulings to get a clear picture of these failed racial policies.

We should remember Judge Marshall's comments regarding the OPP not upholding the Rule of Law in Haldimand in his ruling in 2006. We also have Superior Court Judge Ramsay's ruling that stated the OPP had abused their police discretion when they refused to help the owners of the development in Cayuga and that it was an abuse of power when the OPP threatened to arrest legal owners instead of Native Protesters.

Superior Court Judge Henderson ruled, " All people in Canada are governed by the rule of law as confirmed in the preamble to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That is, all people in Canada are required to obey the law. As a corollary, all people in Canada are entitled to know that every other person in Canada will be required to obey the law. If any person in Canada does not obey the law, the courts will enforce the law. In that way the public has some assurance that they can live in peace without fear of those who might choose to disobey the law."

In Jan. 2009, Judge Marshall ordered two OPP officers to face criminal charges for aiding Native Protesters in building a barricade in Hagersville.

The public has been told that what looks like Race Based Policing is really police discretion where individual officers are deciding on their own, based on their experience, not to make arrests. The Ipperwash Inquiry made the following statements about police discretion:

"Discretion may involve whether, when, or how enforcement action is taken to address alleged breaches of the law. This concept is easily misunderstood. It does not mean that anyone is above the law or that police services should have different standards for Aboriginal people. Nor does it mean that the rule of law and public order are somehow subservient to Aboriginal interest... Police discretion at Aboriginal occupations and protests does not mean that law-breakers are never charged. It simply means that law-breakers should be charged when it is neither dangerous nor needlessly provocative to do so."

The OPP claim to be following the Ipperwash Inquiry so why have they never laid a single charge for the following crimes; the burning down of the Stirling Bridge, the six week blockade of Argyle St. in 2006, the four day blockade of #6 bypass in April of 2008, the numerous tire fires on roads, the blockade on the rail lines, the stopping of emergency vehicles and the use of weapons to threaten firemen, the numerous violations of the law against property owners near DCE and the numerous assaults against OPP officers on Dec. 1, 2007?

Officer Paul McDonald testified that he was manning a police check point on Dec. 1, 2007 when he told a native driver who was trying to pass a police line to turn around. According to McDonald the driver told him to f-off. The driver 'let off the brake and the vehicle rolled forward into my legs', stated McDonald. The driver was told he struck the officer and that he had to back up. The driver did back up but again let off the brake and McDonald was struck a second time. McDonald then told the driver he would 'draw his firearm and use lethal force if necessary.' The driver got out and came to McDonald in an 'aggressive manner' while the passenger went to the smoke shop and came back with 10-14 people who 'surrounded' McDonald and a fellow officer. McDonald then stated the native driver then bumped him around using his chest. The ART (Aboriginal Response Team) team showed up and allowed the driver to get back in his van and drive through the police line - of course no charges have ever been filed.

What is important is what McDonald testified to next. He stated he provided all the information to the OPP Crime Unit for them to follow up. He was asked twice whether he wanted the OPP Crime Unit to lay charges and twice he stated, "Yes". I then asked him whether the OPP Crime Unit ever followed up on his report. He stated that he has not been 'debriefed on the situation yet'. I asked whether 'debriefed' means that no one has spoken to him about this event and he answered Yes.

McDonald testified almost a year after the event in which a native person assaulted him several times. McDonald's discretionary authority was that he wanted the native person charged and the OPP Crime Unit did nothing to follow up on his request. Not only was the native driver not charged but ART undermined McDonald by allowing the driver through the police line after the assault took place.

While Mayor Trainer was on the stand I asked her about the numerous fires that occurred in Caledonia - Stirling bridge and tire fires. I asked her what did the OPP do to stop these events and here is what she stated:

"On burning of the Stirling Street bridge, our fire department went to put it out. Some OPP officers attended. The Natives pointed guns and told them that they were to leave the fire alone or they would kill or shoot them. The OPP backed up and left the firemen standing there. The chief of our fire department came to me white as a sheet, and he stayed that way for the rest of the day, and asked if I would - I would give him my support if he decided not to send some of his fire fighters into another, another fire such as that, where there might be dangers to his officers. And I promised I would back him up a hundred percent."

Officer Jeff Bird has confirmed that Race Based Policing does exist within the OPP. The transcripts show that the Crown repeatedly objected to my questioning of Officer Bird as it related to receiving orders about identifying a person's Race before taking action - the last thing the Crown wanted was to have an officer confirm that the OPP does look at the Race of the person before deciding what to do. Finally, the judge did allow the questions to be answered and here are the important ones:

Question: "Have you heard over the OPP radio any instructions for officers to identify the race of the person in the event?" Answer: "I would have to say yes".  Question: "Have you heard on the radio, in response to identifying the nationality of the person, over the radio have you head different instructions given if it was a Native person versus a non-Native?" Answer: "I have heard certain things that would come over the radio in regards to that; again, I can't give you specific dates." Question: "Have you personally witnessed any events that you see as OPP applying the law differently for Natives versus non-Natives?" Answer: "I would have to say that I personally did witness while working certain events - and I'll just use, say a common assault as an example - where under normal circumstances, had I been working, I would have made an arrest at that time; however, arrests were not made at the time."

Continued next week