[Hpn] FW: OCAP shut out of "public" meeting with Toronto's chief of police

Graeme Bacque gbacque@colosseum.com
Wed, 26 Feb 2003 18:45:25 -0800

-----Original Message-----
From: ocap@tao.ca [mailto:ocap@tao.ca]
Sent: Wednesday, February 26, 2003 3:24 PM
To: ocap@lists.tao.ca
Subject: OCAP shut out of "public" Fantino meeting

Last night cheif of police Julian Fantino held a town hall meeting in
Regent Park - another in a series of meetings that are supposed to address
the issues of the community. OCAP went prepared to address concerns with
the chief in the avenue he had set up to deal with such concerns. OCAP
went as people who live in the Regent Park neighborhood, as people who
work with those who live on the streets of this neighborhood and as an
organization who has worked for 15 years in a neighborhood that sees the
faces of 51 divison and the boots of 51 divison multiple times a day.

We were met with lines of cops and a trespass order against the
organization that stipulated that OCAP would not be allowed to attend the
public meeting being held. The real question is who was allowed into the
so-called public meeting? The meeting was made up of the yuppie residents
and business associations of the neighborhood. It was not made up of
Regent Park residents, or people from the streets, or OCAP. We know who
these cops protect and that was made clear once again last night. What was
also made clear last night was that these town halls are a PR sham and
that Fantino and his force are too cowardly to meet face to face with any
sort of criticism.

The only reason that was given for not letting OCAP activists in was that
there were "security concerns." It is only with the utmost of arrogance
that a force known for its racism, brutality and indifference to life
would express any kind of "concern" about unarmed activists that simply
want to talk to them. It is obvious that their actions are motivated by
politics; Fantino has consistently ignored or insulted everyone in past
meetings that has tried to address abuses by the police department. Most
of the time he doesn't even see the need to lie his way out of a tough
situation; he sees the concerns people are raising as a joke.

For years, members of nearly every community in the city have brought
allegations of racial profiling against the Toronto police. The Commission
on Systemic Racism in the Ontario Criminal Justice System has ruled that
racial profiling does occur - Fantino says the number of racist cops are
"a few bad apples." Large numbers have died at the hands of the police
force. It is a fact of life for people on the streets that assaults by
police officers, verbal disrespect and purposeful humiliation are common
occurances. Fantino doesn't even feel the need to lie about the behaviour
of police on this issue - he simply refuses to address it. At the town
hall meeting for 11 and 14 divisions, Fantino and Bill Blair actually
laughed and smugly said "we're not talking about this today" when a man
showed enlarged pictures of how his son had been brutalized by 11 division

The behaviour of this department and it's arrogant, politically-motivated
hierarchy have been a disgrace to our city - and particularly to the
Regent Park area - for too long. It is OCAP's position that to properly
address the abuses that have taken place, it is past the time of
negotiation, it is past the time of patience and second chances, it is for
reasons of safety, dignity and survival, the time to mobilize and win
against the cops and those they really 'serve and protect'. It is what we
have done for over a decade, and our plans for the future are only to
escalate the fight against the police and their blatant lack of respect
for poor and marginalized people.

		   Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
	517 College Street, Suite 234  Toronto, Ontario  M5G 4A2
	     416-925-6939   ocap@tao.ca   www.ocap.ca

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