Abolishing the police is a solution we need to start taking seriously
Why do we need police? It's a provocative question -- but the lies we are told about the threat of racialized bodies are equaled only by the lies we are told about the virtuous role of the police.

This past week, Toronto Police were disinvited from the city’s Pride parade after a brave action from Black Lives Matter; Sheila Fraser was appointed special adviser to address widespread and systemic sexual harassment in the RCMP; and American cops were caught on video executing two Black men – the latest in an endless index of lives lost by a ruthless organization incredulously referred to as our nations’ “finest.”

If the police were a foreign state, we would have invaded and removed its regime. If it were a workplace, we would have busted the union and closed it down. How many Black people need to be murdered, how many Indigenous women need to disappear, how many female cops need to come forward with accusations of endless abuse before we start referring to decent cops as “one good apple”?

I say this as a white man who has never had my life threatened by the police, as a middle-class person who relies on them mostly to protect my private property and as a Canadian citizen who depends on them to patrol the boundaries of my state and preserve my nation’s wealth from scroungers and miscreants.

It is impossible to overstate how dysfunctional our police forces are – even before we add the charge of murderous. Police spending in Vancouver – one-fifth of the entire budget – has been the only municipal core service to see its funding increase every year since 2008. The Toronto Police Department saw its budget pass the $1 billion mark last year and no one seems able to even suggest it might be time to rein it in. Meanwhile, crime rates languish at historic lows.

Rape arrests and conviction rates are a national shame. It should come as no surprise. A class action in which at least 380 women have alleged systemic workplace sexual harassment while working as RCMP officers sought certification last spring. The lead attorney, Sandy Zeitzeff, expects the number of plaintiffs to grow to 1,500. The RCMP tried to fire at least two of the women named in the class action.

The epidemic of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls continues to disgrace an entire country and our Boys in Blue have shown little interest or aptitude to stop it. Aboriginal people are disproportionately incarcerated for minor crimes and the racist practice of carding continues to be defended by Toronto police and its allies.

With this kind of calamity passing for a public service, why aren’t we asking law enforcement to stand up and defend its existence? It’s a question worth asking: what is a police force good for?

The answer is elusive. David Graeber wrote last year that only 10 per cent of the average American police officer’s day is spent pursuing criminal matters “of any kind.” The rest is annoyance: ticketing, infractions, bureaucracy, regulations. “The police,” he writes, “are essentially just bureaucrats with weapons.”

Between 2008 and 2012, the VPD issued 1,448 bylaw infraction tickets in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Canada, the majority against street vendors. The rest of the city saw just 76, combined, over the same period. One homeless man in Montréal was ticketed over 500 times and accrued a bill of $110,000.

Transit police in Vancouver – the only armed transit cops in the country – apprehended Lucia Vega Jimenez in 2013 for riding the SkyTrain without a ticket and turned her over to the CBSA for deportation. She hanged herself in her cell a few days later. Medical marijuana shops across the country – in the face of the Trudeau government’s promises to legalize the stuff – continue to get raided and shuttered by law enforcement with other ideas.

In his blistering essay in The Nation last year, Mychal Denzel Smith called to abolish the police. It’s an audacious demand to say the least, and one that doubtless invites bafflement, if not hostility. But it is not naive.

When I say, “abolish the police,” I’m usually asked what I would have us replace them with. My answer is always full social, economic, and political equality, but that’s not what’s actually being asked. What people mean is “who is going to protect us?” Who protects us now?

Who indeed. And the answer to that question – if you are Black, Trans, homeless, Indigenous, disabled, female or otherwise vulnerable – rarely wears a uniform.

And while “full social, economic and political equality” would be nice, I’m not sure we have to wait that long. The fact is that most of our communities already function and flourish without police. Most social interactions do not require surveillance and intervention by armed guards of the state. What do police add to these existing relationships of compromise and negotiation?

And besides: it’s been done. Restorative justice models and “no-exit” cultures provide social alternatives to criminalizing and incarcerating difference backed by state-sanctioned violence. The Paris Commune of 1871 stripped the existing police prefecture of its political attributes and turned it into an “agent of the commune,” paid at a labourer’s wage and rendered its privileges revocable at any time. Compare this with the six-figure salaries and latitude to murder Black boys in the street many current officers enjoy.

So why do we need cops? It’s a provocative question, without a doubt – but the lies we are told about the threat of racialized and colonized bodies are equaled only by the lies we are told about the virtuous and noble role of the police.

If it’s a question you can’t answer easily and convincingly, abolishing the police is a solution we need to start taking seriously.

signs as The Pussycat Doll songs

Aries - Wait a Minute
Taurus - I Hate This Part
Gemini - Beep
Cancer - Stickwitu
Leo - When I Grow Up
Virgo - Hush Hush
Libra - Don’t Cha
Scorpio - Jai Ho
Sagittarius - I Don’t Need a Man
Capricorn - Buttons
Aquarius - Bottle Pop
Pisces - Whatcha Think About That

No prison time for ex-TPD corporal who stole fraudulent tax refund checks

Jeanette Hevel betrayed the public trust placed in police officers and tarnished her badge when she stole fraudulent tax refund checks from an evidence room.

For that, she has paid what her lawyer says is a heavy price. She trashed a 27-year law enforcement career, lost her pension and saw friends turn their backs.

But she won’t have to go to prison after a federal judge on Thursday gave her a break and sentenced Hevel to five years of probation with eight months of home detention.

“I can tell that you’re very remorseful for what happened here,” said U.S. District Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington, who said the sentence was fair in light of the effects Hevel has already felt, as well has her willingness to take responsibility for her crimes and her cooperation with the prosecution.

Defense lawyer, Mark O’Brien, suggested Hevel may have given information to federal investigators about at least one other police officer, saying the targets were “not just civilian.”

The former Tampa police corporal gave an emotional apology for her actions.

“I had the opportunity to work for the best police department in the United States of America,” Hevel said, weeping. She said she always wanted to be a police officer. “What I did was wrong. There’s no excuse.”

Covington also ordered Hevel to perform 1,000 hours of community service work and pay more than $100,000 in restitution, a responsibility to be shared by the street criminal who cashed the checks for Hevel at a rate of 10 or 15 cents on the dollar.

Full story

I can’t believe this shit! In our country you can be legally killed because you hold a toy gun but police corporal avoids a jail sentence for the real crime – theft of fraudulent tax refund checks.  

“What I did was wrong. There’s no excuse,” claims Jeanette Hevel, but these words mean nothing. It’s terrible! The way how the state helps police to escape punishment is too much! Such attitude only encourages cops to commit more and more crimes. Isn’t it obvious? I’m shocked.
The Left Chapter: It is not just the police spending in Toronto that is out of control -- it is the police themselves
There is no meaningful control over this billion dollar military machine.

The TTC – the public mass transit system in Toronto – is in what is universally acknowledged to be need of tremendous expansion, greater funding and a new vision that fits the size of the metropolis the city has become.

Over 2.5 million riders use the system daily, the politicians are regularly asking riders – including many of city’s working people and people living in poverty – to pay more to use the TTC, and it has fallen far behind the city’s requirements.

One would think that in a rational city run by rational people who actually cared about the basic needs of their constituents transit, which effects more people on daily basis than almost anything else and that is critical to the social and environmental health of the city, would likely be the highest of priorities in spending by City Hall.

Or perhaps housing, in this one of the most expensive cities to find a home of any kind in as a renter or buyer anywhere in North America.

Or social services, given that it turns out the province has failed spectacularly to do its part.

You would be wrong.

What the City of  Toronto has chosen to particularly emphasize, budget after budget, year after year, is increasing police spending.

Matt Elliot said of this in Metro:

The numbers are absurd.
“According to City of Toronto figures, the average Toronto household paid $658.57 towards the police this year. That’s the highest single line item on the property tax bill by a country mile.
It’s 64 per cent more than the amount going to the TTC. It’s six times more than the amount going to employment and social services.”

Over a billion dollars – a billion dollars – is going to spent in Toronto on the police. Around 90% of it allegedly for “labour costs”.

This is grotesque. In the neo-liberal city that is Toronto, where people have to pay more and more in  user fees for services like children’s programs (which could be made 100% free for a tiny fraction of the police budget), where the average transit user was made to pay more in increases annually in the 2015 austerity-lite budgetsupported nearly unanimously by Toronto’s political class, including all of its so-called “progressives”, than were home owners made to pay in property tax increases and where we are spoon fed bullshit by right wing drips claiming “spending is out of control”, the police have bullied their way to the front of the line with the absolute least rationale for this squandering of public funds and with the gutless acquiescence of  City Council.

Not simply gutless but shameful.

Our billion dollar police force is beset by violent incident after violent incident. Just in the last few days we have headlines like “Toronto man sues police for $5M after violent arrest caught on camera” and “Toronto man’s death after arrival of Taser-wielding police now being investigated”. Never mind cases like the horrific shooting of Sammy Yatim. […]
What Having a ‘Cop’s Cop’ as Police Chief Really Means for Toronto

When Toronto’s police services board formally announced Mark Saunders, a deputy police chief and 32-year veteran of the force, as the city’s new chief on Monday, police association leader Mike McCormack hailed him as a “cop’s cop.” News networks and commentators dutifully parroted this description of Saunders—it served as a useful catchphrase for a man without a large media or community profile.

The message behind McCormack’s “cop’s cop” moniker is clear; he means that Saunders relates with rank-and-file officers and, more importantly, that he will be loyal to them and to the dominant policing culture in Toronto. Given how thoroughly our police have eroded public trust in recent years through their aggressive tactics, secretive decision-making, and resistance to civilian oversight, a cop’s cop may well be the last thing Toronto needs now.

creo que estoy decayendo de nuevo, y no quiero. me siento muy deprimida, tan vacía como creo que nunca me había sentido, siento un dolor fuertísimo que no para en el pecho, me late todo el cuerpo y tengo esa constante sensación de querer llorar, de la garganta cerrada. me siento muy muy sola, como hace mucho, me siento a la deriva, no encajo acá en ningún rinconcito, no me hayo. quiero quedarme tirada en la cama llorando todo el día, pero a la vez no quiero eso, se que no me hace bien. necesito encontrar a mi gente, mi grupo, mi espacio, mi comodidad, mi seguridad. necesito liberarme de todo lo malo, ser libre.
An Alliance Between Toronto Police and Harm Reduction Centres Has Drug Users Scared and Angry | VICE | Canada
The Toronto Police and harm reduction groups have collaborated for what they say is a common good, but at-risk communities are incredibly suspicious. And with good reason.

A controversial program that disguises plainclothes police officers as harm reduction workers has some outreach workers and portions of the homeless and drug-using population of Toronto up in arms.

The Street Outreach project—a pilot program by the Toronto Police Service (TPS) launched last fall that partners with two of the city’s major harm reduction organizations—has much of the marginalized community saying that the program needs to be completely shut down by its planned end date of March 31.

The program has caused significant backlash from other outreach groups in the city. The concern is that at-risk communities are now afraid of being threatened or arrested by police officers embedded within The Works—a needle exchange run through Toronto Public Health—and John Howard Society (JHS), a privately-funded outreach group. The Toronto Police denies that the program has ever been used to assist in arrests.

“Our problem isn’t as much with the police—they had access and money and thought, This is good. The Works and JHS are the two agencies that let the police in and mixed law enforcement with harm reduction, and those two places are the ones that really dropped the ball,” Matt Johnson, a spokesperson for the Toronto Harm Reduction Alliance (THRA), told VICE.

Johnson explained that, for marginalized communities, police presence is intimidating enough, but notes that there’s an added factor: The information typically shared with harm reduction workers—both medical history and intimate details of client’s lives—is not something most drug users feel comfortable talking to the police about. Often, they’re afraid it may be used against them, their friends, or their dealers.

According to Johnson, the blowback from at-risk communities—against not only The Works and JHS, but organizations such as Parkdale Community Health Centre—has been tremendous.

“When we conduct outreach, we learn people’s Hep C status, their HIV status, what kind of drugs they’ve been using, and sometimes where they’re getting their drugs from. This is all stuff that people would be very careful about if they knew they were talking to a police officer. We first heard just whispers about suspicious interactions with police near these [communities]. [After a while], harm reduction teams—our peer teams—started getting people saying, ‘I’m not talking to you, you work with the police.’” […]