Dear American Liberals,
Stop Idealizing My Country. I know we have universal health care and gay marriage and an official Multiculturalism policy, but we are just as messed up as you are. Just differently.
So sick of this meme going around. You know what, Tumblr? Police violence exists in Canada. It exists in Canada against racialized communities, and against sex workers and against Aboriginal communities in Canada and against the homeless and against any number of other marginalized communities.
The entire SlutWalk movement (acknowledging that SW is not a movement devoid of problematic aspects) started because of misogynist, victim-blaming attitudes of certain police officers in Toronto wrt rape.
Recent reports from the former spokesperson for the RCMP’s Missing Women Taskforce indicate that investigators watched porn and skipped work when they should have been investigating leads on the Robert Pickton case. Pickton, for those unaware, is a serial killer who murdered perhaps as many as 50 women, who went unapprehended for so long because of bullshit such as that described in the linked article. (I was going to link to the Wikipedia article on him, but it’s triggering and disgusting and you can Google it if you want.)
And the picture of the cop pepper spraying students on the campus of UC Davis on November 18th? The picture I’ve added is from McGill University in Montreal, on November 10th, when approximately 100 riot cops used pepper spray, batons and tear gas against a peaceful student demonstration. (The linked article in the McGill Daily provides the basics, although there’s been a lot of back and forth about the events of that day since then, both in the Daily and in the Montreal Gazette, National Post, etc. etc..)
Point? Police violence might be better funded in the US. It might, as James Fallows has been discussing this week, be more militarized in the US. However, police violence is not something inherently American. It is borderless. It’s about power. It’s about oversight (or lack thereof). It’s about authority. And it’s not about “one bad cop”. It’s about trying to find a way to balance society’s need for enforcement of laws with the systemic result of the existence of institutions (read: the police) whose purpose is to be state-sanctioned violence.
A monopoly on the use of force is part of what defines the concept of the State. This is why judicial oversight and civil rights and knowing your rights and filing complaints when necessary are important. Because when nobody watches those with power, they have impunity to do use the power we’ve given them.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? etc.
ETA: YouTube search for McGill riot police.
Note: This was a reblog, but it made more sense as a standalone post. Left it as a reblog too just in case someone happens upon it and learns something. The first two pictures in the triptych were originally put together by soulabstracts.tumblr.com, I think. The one of riot cops on McGill campus was taken by Victor Tangermann for The McGill Daily.