Sunday, June 26, 2011

G20 Anniversary - Photos

- Protester at Queen and Spadina

John Pruyn being interviewed by media. He notes that he STILL has yet to receive his glasses or walking sticks from the police. One year later, they still have his property.

Grannies singing parody songs. I dub them "Octogenarians Against Oppression"

Arrival at Queen and Spadina. The scene of the crime. By this point, the crowd that was at the rally had split into two groups after the rally itself was over. We then moved to the south end of Queens Park and the march started to Queen and Spadina.

And out comes the harmonica!

First on the scene. I seemed to be ahead of the protest the whole way. I don't know why police were reporting to CP24 that they had no idea WHERE the protest was going, since I was able to get in front of them very often. Me and City TV, we were the first on the scene at Police Headquarters...well..the 70 or so cops were there first...

Below are more photos from the event:

G20 - One Year Later

It's now one year past the G20 that was held in Downtown Toronto. Yesterday, the anniversary was marked with a protest and march calling for the resignation of Chief Bill Blair, and calling, once again, for the establishment of a public inquiry. As more reports come out, the need for a public inquiry is becoming more and more obvious. Except of course to those who think that nothing was done wrong. Even though, every report coming out has said that things were done wrong. Even the Chiefs report says that things could have been handled better, and that they did in fact make mistakes. Yet, nothing concrete will be done.

Yesterday, I got a chance to return to Queens Park for the Anniversary march. Hearing the stories again, and seeing the injuries STILL visible one year later really makes you think. To me, the day wasn't just about calling for resignations and an inquiry, but also catharsis. It was a great day...considering what brought it about.

We've heard this week, that kettling will no longer be used. That is a good decision. However, if you look at video of how it was implemented at the time, it was done WRONG. If you look back at how this is supposed to be done, and how it's written into MANY police manuals, you'll see that they do NOT block off all the exits as was done here. The correct way to do this, it to allow at least ONE exit route for people. THAT makes it more constitutional than how it was implemented in Toronto. There is a reason for this. IF there is something that 'requires' something like this, you need to announce it to the crowd, AND allow people to leave the area. Its written into law. If an unlawful assembly is declared, you must give people 30 minutes to disperse. However, the way police deal with this, is to push them into smaller and smaller areas. You could leave, however, you would be arrested. This was illegal since they didn't give them FREEDOM to leave the area before that. Of course, there is also video out where a Police Officer gives it away... "there are unlawful assemblies going on all over the place". Which simply has no bearing in fact. The police SET UP the whole idea of doing this. If that was not an order from above, then it was a conspiracy on the ground. Like has been said before, kettles boil.

More to come...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Vancouver versus Toronto

After seeing footage from Vancouver last night, and going through hundreds of still images today, one thing strikes out at me: Riot Police. Specifically, what they are equipped with. Riot Police, at the front line, with shields for the most part did NOT carry sidearms. Those that did looked to be on specific duty – they had other armaments as well, tear gas/bean bag launchers and weapons for rubber bullets. This is what I’ve come to see as standard. Regular officers equipped with sidearms, but those who are more apt to be in the fray, those at the front lines…DO NOT. I have not seen a Canadian manual for Riot Police, but the ones that I have seen make a good point that if the officer has a shield in one hand, and a truncheon in the other, there is no easy way to protect your weapon. The LAST thing they want is to arm an otherwise unarmed offender.

Contrast those images to those seen in Toronto at the G20 nearly a year ago. MOST of the Riot Police that I saw with shields HAD sidearms. Not all, but a good portion of them. Note: I am not including tasers here as sidearms. I’m also not talking about regular officers with riot helmets and gas masks. I’m talking the ‘core’ Riot police.

In a situation like a riot, the riot police are the front line. They get in the fray. We’ve all seen those videos. It would not be hard for an officer to lose control of his weapon. This could happen in any number of ways. He/she could have it taken off them by a protester, or vandal, or whatever situation they have been called in to deal with. It could simply get knocked off by one of those same individuals. It could also get knocked off by another officer in line. Guns stick out, and the riot shields could easily catch on to them. That is the reason why Riot Cops do not have sidearms.

One other thing to note… Vancouver Police apparently DID read the “Riot Act”…the LEGAL step needed to actually call this a riot. THAT is what gives them the right to go in and arrest people for not leaving the area.

Monday, June 13, 2011

There Are No Innocent Bystanders

On Tuesday, Montreal police shot and killed a homeless man who had brandished a knife at them. They also MURDERED an innocent bystander. Murder is the correct word for it. When handling firearms, one of the big rules is don’t point your gun any anything you don’t want dead. You are responsible for your bullet until it stops. Firing anything downrange, you need to know what is in the path of your bullet. It’s a very simple concept. If your shot is NOT CLEAR, you DO NOT FIRE. Obviously, we don’t know everything that happened on that corner that day, but the rules are quite clear about when you can and cannot fire. He also had a knife, not a firearm. A lot less people are in danger when someone has a knife, the police have more time to respond to the situation, and could, if they wanted, let the guy ‘go’ and follow him to a place easier to take him down, and NOT on a busy street.

I was reading some of the comments after the shooting, and one stuck out at me. It was someone with army training who stated that they train with their weapons all the time. Police only have to qualify once a year, from what I’ve heard. This, isn’t good. Police should be trained a lot more than this. Handguns have a limited range where they are effective and accurate. Fired from further away, or while running, or just after running, YOUR accuracy is likely to fall. I don’t know if regular duty officers are trained in this fashion, if not, they should be, as this is a likely scenario on the street.

If I were out hunting, and fired at an animal, missed the animal, but hit another hunter (who was visible), I would be charged. It WOULD take a while for the investigation to happen, but regardless, I would be charged. If I recall correctly, something like this happened in Nova Scotia about 4 years ago with a couple from Maine or Massachusetts.
The wife was eventually charged with manslaughter, careless use of a firearm, and one other weapons related offence. The husband was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but that doesn’t matter…you are responsible for your bullet.

To put is succinctly, the officer in question should have never fired his weapon. There is NO retrospect in a situation like this. You field of fire is either clear, or not. The situation MAY be different if the officers were being fired upon, but they were not. Therefore, this is rightly called murder.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

G20 Anniversary - June 25th

June 25th 2011 marks the one year anniversary of the G20 summit in Toronto, and, as described by Ombudsman Andre Marin, the worst compromise of Civil Liberties ever in Canada. The anniversary will bring protesters to Queens Park to demand accountability for the events that happened, and the events that have happened since.

It is still important to not only keep pressure on various levels of Government, but also to keep this in people's minds. That is the only way we might achieve an inquiry. That being an inquiry that not only has teeth to compel testimony and subpoena witnesses, but to also LAY CHARGES if and when necessary. That is not what is being done now. Only the SIU currently has the ability to lay charges, and they are on a complaint based system that really doesn't work. They've had to re-open ALL of their cases so far since they failed in their job to INVESTIGATE. It doesn't help that the police have all but NOT co-operated with the investigations, including the Chief coming out and BLATANTLY lying about circumstances. Do not forget that he was basically forced to apologize because of his statements. This is not how a police Chief should act, he slandered a victim of police abuse, and ONLY had to apologize. Hopefully a lawsuit or two will straighten him out, but I have no hope for that. In a CBC documentary, he also notes that he was going to start an investigation into an incident caught on film and shown to him. I'd seen the video before, as had many others. He claimed to be unaware of the situation, but would look into it. I don't know about you, but that doesn't seem right. It doesn't pass the smell test. He needs to be investigated himself. What he knew, when he knew it, and what orders were passed down from him. The buck doesn't stop with him, but it's a great place to start.

On June 25th, at 2pm, come to Queens Park, ONE scene of last years abomination. Whether you were arrested, detained, searched, or JUST a citizen of this country, come to Queens Park to make your voice heard. We will not stand for un-Canadian justice being served on Canadian soil.

Riot Cops

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Supercell - June 8

I stayed up for a storm last night that never really materialized here. It was close, but didn't provide me with any lightning. Today's storm looked like it was following the same path, likely coming just north of the city. I watched the radar for a while, hoping that it would track further south. It didn't look good, but I went up to the roof anyway. It started to get dark and windy, I knew something was up. I checked into another radar site, and it looked like it was almost on top of me. The storm was quite intense, but since there was still so much light out there, I was able to get a couple of poor shots. What I DID get, was some video. This is all unedited, and yes...I narrate. I use the word intense a lot it seems, and well, it was pretty apt. Most of the time while I was on the roof, I had to brace myself because of the wind. We didn't have much rain, so there was some debris flying through the air...and it hurt!

Apologies for the was windy!

Here's some raw video.

This video is kind of a tutorial. Because of the wind, it's not great. It's also daylight, which makes shooting this a little harder. (by 'juice' I meant memory on the card!)

There was a lot of dust and debris flying through the air since there wasn't really any rain. It was basically spitting every once in a while, big drops, but not often.

This was the first video from the roof. Where I discover my tripod isn't as stable as I would have liked.

Here's some shots from late last month. CLICK HERE.

Be Wary of Ontario's Red Alert System

Since I enjoy photographing intense weather, I signed up a few months ago for Ontario's Red Alert System operated by the Emergency Management Office (EMO). I signed up for their SMS service (text messages).

Last night was the first night it went off. It was sent to me due to a Tornado Warning in Hamilton.

CBC Article - Possible tornado strikes near Hamilton overnight

Now, you'd think getting the message would be a good thing. It wasn't. I got the message at 2:08am. The alert was issued by Environment Canada at 1:43am. That's a 25 minute delay. After I got the alert, the storm was already well past the area covered under it. That basically means that by the time residents were alerted to the problem, there was no more problem. If people rely on this system for alerts (as you should be able to do), they would have been unaware of a potentially deadly situation in their midst.

25 minutes is an eternity in a situation like this. With all the tornadoes that we've seen already this year south of the border, we really need to get this system working better, or at least WORKING. I don't know why it's slow, whether from delay sending a bulk message, or if it was a 'manual' system (IE, they get the alert, and then a staff member sends it out, no auto-transfer of information). Either way, it needs to be fixed.

Overall, the system is a great idea, has great potential, but it needs some work. Hopefully, something can be done before the next major storm rolls through. Who knows when someones life will depend on it.

**If you've signed up for this, let me know in the comments WHEN you got your message last night. Curious to see if it's late across the board, or if its over a time frame **