Canada’s Military Gave 2,012 Assault Rifles to 68 Police Forces

The free gift, revealed in internal documents, runs counter to calls to ‘demilitarize’ police and society.

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Vancouver police carrying assault rifles at the Italian Day celebration on Commercial Drive in 2018. The police responded to a complaint saying displaying the high-powered weapons at public events deters terrorism. Photo by Adrienne Smith via Twitter.

What do police need all those high-powered weapons for, now that they are denied to the population it protects?

And, amid worldwide protests on heavy-handed policing, why have Canada’s police forces become increasingly militarized, and why has the federal government helped?

The giveaway of 2,012 assault rifles was done in 2016, through a formal government program to dispose surplus equipment.

There have been no other donations of assault rifles to police since 2016, although there were transfers of other equipment. For example, the military sold ammunition and gave helmets to the RCMP between 2018 and 2019, respectively for training local police in Iraq and use in a UN peacekeeping mission.

Asked whether it will consider stopping the practice, the Department of National Defence reaffirmed its longstanding policy that, under certain circumstances, such donations of equipment “may occur.”

“Donation is typically only pursued when deemed to be in the interest of the Crown and/or as a cost avoidance measure,” the department said.

‘Disposal options were limited’

The defence department had previously explained to this journalist that the 2016 donation of the guns, worth more than $3 million, was because the military had upgraded and that the old rifles were “ineligible for sale to the public and disposal options were limited to sale or donation.”

Potential qualified buyers at the time “lack[ed] interest.” The rifles therefore were given to police to “better serve the interests of Canadians,” a spokesperson said.

The civilian version of the C8 rifles the defence department gave to police is commonly dubbed the AR-15. It’s the same weapon used in a number of notorious mass shootings, including at a Newton, Connecticut elementary school, a Las Vegas concert and an Orlando nightclub.

In Canada, an 18-year-old hostage taker with an AR-15 fired 50 rounds at police in Saskatoon in 1982, and bullets from the same type of weapon paralyzed a Toronto woman in a botched drive-by shooting and have been seized from bank robbers in B.C. The Montreal massacre shooter used a similar semi-automatic rifle, a Ruger Mini-14, to kill 14 women in 1989.

Militarized police and civilian deaths

It is not clear which police forces got assault rifles from the Canadian government, although the defence department had said the recipients were “non-federal.”

North American police forces have caught flak for what critics see as their increasing use of military equipment and tactics.

Research shows that, by 2016, average yearly deployments for Canadian police tactical units is approximately 1,300, an increase of roughly 2,100 per cent in 37 years. Researchers scanning the U.S. found more militarized law enforcement agencies correlate with more civilians killed each year by police.

Those urgings come after researchers found, “Deployments of SWAT teams — special weapons and tactics units — have risen in major Canadian cities and are higher in some cases than those by U.S. public police. Based on our research, we can see that militarization has been normalized within Canada’s largest police services. SWAT teams, once considered a last-resort option for police forces, are now being used in routine areas of policing.”

Critics say Canada’s police forces look more and more like soldiers rather than public guardians. Where to draw the blurred line was debated last month, as the Winnipeg police argued with a CBC reporter that it was “erroneous and confusing” to label their $342,800 armoured vehicle a tank.

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A VPD member with assault weapon at the 2019 Sikh community Vaisakhi festival in Vancouver.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, a former police chief, has said the militarization of law enforcement “is a direct consequence of the militarization of society.” In fact, after he resigned, Blair’s own former department in Toronto bought 50 AR-15s from the manufacturer in 2016.

Which raises the question of whether the assault rifle ban for civilians should be matched by a downgrading of the arsenals held by the nation’s police forces.

It also points to the need for considering stricter rules about when police are allowed to carry such high-powered weapons — at protests or acts of civil disobedience, for example.

And it has observers trying to reconcile two statements. Blair says the goal is to end the militarization of society, while Canada’s military says giving its warfighting hand-me-downs to police will “better serve the interests of Canadians.”  [Tyee]

SOURCE

Ethan Lou is the author of the nonfiction books Field Notes from a Pandemic and Once a Bitcoin Miner.

A Record Number of Bees Died Last Summer

Photo: Ina FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty

It’s been a bad year for bees. According to the preliminary results of the University of Maryland’s annual survey, U.S. beekeepers lost 43.7% of their honey bees from April 2019 to April 2020. That’s the second highest rate of decline the researchers’ have observed since they started the survey in 2006.

Striking summertime losses drove this high annual rate of loss. Generally, more bees die off in winter due to low temperatures and a lack of food, but this past year, winter losses were actually pretty low at 22.2%—that’s 6.4% lower than the survey’s average. By contrast, summer losses were the highest the researchers have seen in their 14 years of surveying. Beekeepers lost 32% of their bees in the summer, which is 10.4% higher than average. The annual survey is part of the Bee Informed Partnership and included 3,377 beekeepers managing 276,832 colonies across the country, or about 10% of all colonies nationwide.

Weather conditions also may have created difficulties. Summer 2019 was a scorcher—that July was the hottest month ever recorded globally and intense heat was recorded across the U.S.—which may have created less-than-ideal mating conditions for queen bees. It also may have contributed to a lack of food availability for honey bees. Flowers, which bees depend on for pollen, have been blooming on different schedules due to changes in the climate.

To make this year’s results even stranger, commercial beekeepers typically have lower losses than backyard and smaller operations. But this year, that wasn’t the case—the high rate of loss in the summer was mostly driven by declines in commercial beekeepers’ populations. The researchers aren’t sure why this occurred, but in addition to the increased instances of parasitic varroa mites and increased heat, they think pesticides may have played a disruptive role. They’re currently working on an epidemiological approach to studying bee loss to better understand its drivers.

The study is the latest in a slew of research showing that bees in the U.S. are under threat. Another February report found that due to climate breakdown, bumblebee populations’ chance of survival in any given place declined by an average of over 30 percent over the course of just one human generation. And then there’s the invasive murder hornets, which could pose a whole new threat.

Whatever the causes of all this loss have been, the effect is troubling. The survey notes that commercial honey bees pollinate $15 billion worth of food crops in the U.S. each year, making them critical to food production and supply nationwide. About a third of the food humans eat every day relies on pollination, mostly by bees. So it’s critical that we protect bees however we can.

Though this past year’s summer losses were a record, there’s a sliver of good news. Nathalie Steinhauer, Bee Informed Partnership’s science coordinator and a post-doctoral researcher in the University of Maryland Department of Entomology, told Earther in an email the researchers anecdotally heard bees did well this spring. Next year’s data will tell the full story.

Updated: 6/22/2020, 4:43 p.m. ET: This post has been updated to include comments from Steinhauer.

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Staff writer, Earther

Move your community ahead on a pollinator strategy. Download your flower patch e-guide

Find out how to make your garden more attractive to local honey bees.

Here’s something to nurture your own well-being while helping to save the bees!

Today, for Pollinator Week, we’re publishing A Flower Patch for the Rusty-Patched Bumblebee: Creating Habitat Gardens for Native Pollinators in the Greater Toronto AreaI want you, as an important supporter of the Bee Cause, to have a copy.

This publication makes the case for planting native plants to help native pollinators. By choosing native plants, you avoid the problem of potential pesticide contamination and create the crucial habitat needed by native bees.

You can count on me asking you for more help in the future to take action to save the bees. But for today, I hope you will find a shady spot to read this beautiful gardening e-guide by author and activist Lorraine Johnson and bee scientist Sheila Colla.

You might enjoy the backstory to this publication.

The City of Toronto had passed their Pollinator Protection Strategy in 2018.  One day a passionate bee protector (that’s Patricia who works on the Horticulture team for the City) met with Lorraine and Sheila and talked about what people asked for that would help them put the Strategy to work.  It seemed that both residents and horticulture staff wanted to know what plants to use to create a safe haven for pollinators.

So Lorraine and Sheila and the talented artist Ann Sanderson got busy preparing this guide with seed funding from Toronto when, pow, COVID-19 hit. Everything on the City’s agenda was frozen so they could focus on the pandemic.

Sheila Colla, a professor at York University, has been graciously giving us advice on our Bee Cause campaign for many years.  She mentioned this work was stalled and asked whether we’d like to help.  Friends of the Earth was involved in publishing Lorraine’s first book 30 years ago Green Future: How to Make a World of Difference, so it seemed highly appropriate to re-connect on this work.

Well, I’m sure you can understand the COVID-19 priority.  But since no one knows how long the pandemic priority will last, I didn’t want this unique and important gardening guide to be mothballed.

Karen Cartier at Friends of the Earth and Dave O’Malley and Sandra Hamel of Aerographics design firm stepped up to a tight timeframe to produce this wonderful e-guide in a record-setting short schedule.

While this gardening guide is written for the Toronto area, you will find its text useful no matter where you live. Of course, you should check if the plant suggestions are appropriate for your area if you live outside the GTA.

I hope you will agree this gardening e-guide is a lovely gift from all those who worked to make it happen.  I’d like to hear from you if you’re trying to move your community ahead on a pollinator strategy and a guide like this could help. Or, perhaps you are a bee scientist or know one who also has a local focus on native bees at risk – could she or he help focus in on those bees that need special attention in your area?

Get your flower patch e-guide

Indigenous-led conservation, natural law and a different future

“Conservation is what we learn and observe from the natural world,” said Tyson Atleo, a hereditary chief of the Ahousaht Nation and the economic development lead of Nature United conservation organization. Photo by Darryl Augustine

“Our stories are true,” Tyson Atleo’s great-grandmother used to tell his father growing up.

Tyson Atleo’s father, Ah-up-wa-eek, Shawn Atleo, is the Tyee Hawiith (head chief) of the house of Klakishpeeth, and former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

Shawn Atleo taught his son the same words he had heard from his grandmother growing up, “our stories are true.”

Throughout his life, Atleo came to understand what those words meant.

Atleo has fine-tuned his critical thinking skills, and learned the western world’s scientific approach and worldview, but he has also witnessed and experienced first-hand the power of natural law, the precision of his teachings and the truth of their stories.

“Conservation is what we learn and observe from the natural world,” said Atleo.

I sat down on May 21 for a Facebook live interview with Atleo as a part of a series, launched at the peak of COVID-19, featuring Indigenous leaders from across B.C., discussing Indigenous laws, conservation ethics and self-determination.

Tyson Atleo is a 27th-generation hereditary chief of the Ahousaht Nation of the Nuu-chah-nulth people from the west coast of what is now known as Vancouver Island. Based in Victoria, the traditional territories of the Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ nations, Atleo is the economic development lead for Nature United, an affiliate of the world’s largest conservation organization.

Atleo has been raised as a hereditary leader to respect Hishuk – ish – tsawalk, a Nuu-chah-nulth worldview meaning “everything is one,” and the four pillars of Nuu-chah-nulth life — lessons of respect, care, love and teaching, that he carries into his conservation work.

“Indigenous Peoples around the world are still arguably the closest to an understanding of what place-based connection feels like and how to respect it, and what structures allow us to live within a sustainable model,” Atleo said. “It is my mission in life to bring people into that space, to understand how we connect to the natural world.”

Atleo comes from a people with a great history of transformation and adaptation, skillful whalers, sealers, fishermen, with different models of harvesting and expertise in sustainability, he told me in our interview. Indigenous laws based on natural law still exist, he said, and have the potential to carry all societies into a healthier future.

“As Indigenous peoples, our wellbeing is intimately connected to the wellbeing of the lands, waters, and natural world,” Atleo said. @NatObserver #FirstNationsForward #IndigenousLedConservation

Atleo has been working with Nature United since 2016. He oversees the development of a regional economic opportunity strategy for the Emerald Edge in the Pacific Northwest. Emerald Edge is known as the largest intact coastal rainforest in the world. The program he works with aims to support Indigenous and local communities to be conservation leaders and rightful stewards of their lands and waters.

“I want to carry our lessons forward and share them, helping people and the earth recover,” he said. But he isn’t naive about how long it takes and how much effort is required to rebuild trust, to nurture healthy and reciprocal relationships and to heal from the generational impacts of colonialism.

Patience is key, he said, a lesson he hopes people realized during the COVID-19 pandemic that halted the world in its tracks.

“Human beings have been violating natural laws and breaking protocols established with life-giving forces,” he said. “No other experience in my lifetime has reminded me so much that we are all in this together.”

Emilee Gilpin in conversation with 27th-generation hereditary chief of the Ahousaht Nation, Tyson Atleo.

Rights-based approach to conservation

As an economic lead, Atleo understands how value systems work. Many economic systems value things such as GDP, profit and production, over people or the well-being of the whole, but past global and national economic recessions have led to wider gaps between the wealthiest and poorest communities, he said.

The World Economic Forum predicts similar trends following COVID-19. As a nation composed of many nations, Atleo thinks Canada can prevent the further marginalization of underserved communities by putting people, and the overall ecological health of the whole, before profit.

“As Indigenous Peoples, our well-being is intimately connected to the well-being of the lands, waters and natural world,” Atleo said. But in order for Indigenous knowledge to effectively govern stewardship practices, Indigenous rights need to be recognized.

Nature United is a chapter of one of the world’s largest conservation organizations, The Nature Conservancy. Atleo says he chose to work with them because of the organization’s rights-based approach to ecological conservation.

Tyson Atleo said he has witnessed and experienced the power of the natural world and the connected laws and lessons around appropriate and reciprocal stewardship both on his own, and in ceremony, guided by knowledge-keepers and elders in his community. Photo by Pink Buffalo Films

Where Indigenous rights are respected and upheld, and people are able to make decisions for and about their people and territories, there are healthier ecological outcomes, he said. Indeed, Indigenous Peoples protect 80 per cent of the world’s biodiversity, and steward precious ecosystems which feed the entire planet.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) is an important document to help empower Indigenous-led conservation practices, Atleo said. UNDRIP has been recognized by Canada and passed as legislation in the province of B.C. How the 47 articles are interpreted, implemented and upheld continues to be unveiled on a case to case basis.

“Change takes time, transformation is always difficult,” Atleo said. “We want to learn from the past and move forward in a good way, but it won’t always look like it looked in the past. Every generation will change the way things happen, and that’s our right as the new generation.”

While people are anxious to construct a new reality, and to slow down the devastating impacts of the environmental crisis, a rushed approach is not always right or appropriate, he said.

“We need patience from the non-Indigenous communities, as we build ourselves back up,” Atleo said. “People want to support because they have a commitment to environmental stewardship too, but it’s far better when organizations support the people whose responsibility it has been to care for a place for a very long time — people who have the experience in the area.”

Indigenous communities are still dealing with the impacts of colonialism, attempting to be well and reconstruct their cultures, laws and lives, Atleo said. And he says a process of regenerative healing for people and nations is needed.

He says he tells visitors to his territories the same thing, as he takes them out on his boat and explains different watersheds as arteries, different bodies of water as entities that provide endlessly and need to be cared for reciprocally.

Atleo hopes, by building relationships and showing people the truth of his stories and the power of the natural world, they too will believe that a different future is possible.

“A lot of our deeply spiritual and cultural experiences are private, but I can assure you there have been moments when Hishuk – ish – tsawalk, the idea that everything is one and interconnected is real and alive.

“I have seen it, witnessed it, experienced it. Our stories are true,” Atleo said.

SOURCE

Toronto’s CAMH says police should not be 1st responders to mental health calls

WATCH VIDEO: An intersection in Malton remained closed on Tuesday as community members demanded answers after a 62-year-old man in distress was shot and killed by Peel Regional Police. Morganne Campbell has more about why a team tasked with responding to mental health calls wasn’t on scene.

Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) says police officers should not be the first responders on scene to a mental health crisis or person in mental health distress.

“Recent events have exposed the tragic outcomes that can occur when people with mental illness experience a crisis in the community and are not able to get the care that they need,” a statement issued on behalf of the centre read on Tuesday.

“CAMH, along with our mental health system partners, has been advocating for years for measures to improve crisis care. It’s clear we need a new way forward.”

The statement comes on the heels of multiple incidents involving police and a person in mental health distress that has resulted in a fatality.

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Demonstration continues in Mississauga after fatal shooting of man by police

WATCH VIDEO: Many questions are being raised by friends and family of 62-year-old Ejaz Choudry during a protest on Monday after he was fatally shot by Peel Regional Police on Saturday. Sean O’Shea reports.

Hundreds of protesters marched the streets Monday in Mississauga, Ont., with the family of a 62-year-old man who was shot and killed by police.

They chanted “no justice, no peace, abolish the police” as they walked along a major thoroughfare with little police presence.

They were there for Ejaz Choudry, a man with schizophrenia, who was in the middle of a mental health crisis on Saturday when the family said they called the non-emergency line for help around 5 p.m. on Saturday.

READ MORE: Family of 62-year-old man who died after police shooting in Mississauga call for inquiry

Three hours later, Peel Regional Police stormed Choudry’s home, fired multiple shots and killed him.

The family demanded the force fire the officer who killed Choudry and continued their call for a public inquiry.

They also demanded change for those in crises.

“We want to create a system that is meant to be there for us,” said Choudry’s nephew, Hassan Choudhary.

“This system is not meant to be there for us. You’re in a mental health crisis and you’re faced by people with guns, people with body armour, people with authority over you, people demanding you, telling you what to do, instead of listening and trying to understand what’s wrong.”

At one point, the emotional crowd surrounded two police officers and screamed at them for change. Other protesters got between the officers and the crowd, which eventually marched on.

There was very little police presence otherwise.

 

 

Police kill Canadian man during mental health check

A Canadian man in mental health distress was shot dead by Ontario police, intensifying demands for reform.

A protest near where Ejaz Choudry was shot by police has shut down an intersection

A protest near where Ejaz Choudry was shot by police has shut down an intersection. Getty Images

Ejaz Choudry, 62, was killed over the weekend when police responded to a call to “check on the well-being of a man”.

In May, Toronto woman Regis Korchinski-Paquet, 29, fell from a balcony and died after police arrived to help her.

Ontario’s police watchdog, the Special Investigation Unit (SIU), is investigating the two deaths.

Ejaz Choudry, left, and Regis Korchinski-Paquet died less than four weeks apart in separate encounters with Toronto-area police
Ejaz Choudry, left, and Regis Korchinski-Paquet died less than four weeks apart in separate encounters with Toronto-area police. Image copyrightGOFUNDME / SUBMITTED PHOTO

What happened to Mr Choudry?

In a press conference, Mr Choudry’s family said he suffered from schizophrenia, was paranoid and afraid of police. His nephew Khizar Shahzad says Mr Choudry’s daughter had called for a non-emergency ambulance on Saturday because her father was having an “episode”. Once paramedics arrived at his apartment in Malton, outside of Toronto, Mr Shahzad said they saw he had a knife and called the police.

Family recalled pleading with police to be allowed to go with them into the building to make Mr Choudry more comfortable, explaining that he was likely to be paranoid.

“I said, ‘Hey, he’s scared of your uniform, he’s not scared of you,'” Mr Shahzad recalled.

In a news release, the SIU said Peel Regional Police arrived at 5pm local time, and that they communicated with Mr Choudry, who was barricaded in his apartment.

“Shortly after communication stopped, officers breached the door and entered the unit. An interaction occurred which included officers deploying a conducted energy weapon at the man, as well as firing plastic projectiles,” said the SIU in its press release.

“When these had no effect, an officer discharged a firearm and the man was struck.”

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

What happened to Ms Korchinski-Paquet?

Ms Korchinski-Paquet, who was of black and indigenous descent, died after falling from a 24th-floor balcony in Toronto, after police had been called to help her. According to her family she suffered from epilepsy. Her mother had called police to ask them to take her to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.

The SIU has released few details about her death, which has been widely covered by local media.

In a news release announcing its investigation, it said “officers were inside an apartment unit on the 24th floor, they observed a woman on the balcony. A short time later, the woman fell from the balcony to the ground below.”

Over the past month, Ms Korchinski-Paquet’s name has been mentioned alongside George Floyd’s at Black Lives Matter protests across Canada, and the words “Justice for Regis” has become a rallying cry for people demanding an end to systemic racism in Canadian policing.

Now, Mr Choudry’s name has been added to the growing list of ethnic minority people across Canada who have been killed during a police “wellness check” on their mental health.

What has been the reaction to the deaths?

Toronto protest

Protests erupted in the Toronto area on Sunday and Monday. Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Protesters marched through the streets of Mississauga and closed down a section of road near where Mr Choudry was shot, demanding an independent inquiry into his death.

In a joint press conference on Monday afternoon, the National Council of Canadian Muslims, the Urban Alliance on Race Relations and Muslim Council of Peel said they wanted the officer who shot him to be fired immediately.

“The police need to be held to the same level of justice as the rest of us are. There is blood on their hands and the officer who pulled the trigger should never be trusted with a gun or badge again,” said Mohammed Hashim, who is on the board of the Urban Alliance.

The SIU, which investigates all civilian deaths that occur during interactions with police, is currently investigating both Mr Choudry’s death and the death of Ms Korchinski-Paquet.

But many have doubted the police watchdog’s ability to deliver justice. Ms Korchinski-Paquet’s family delayed their interview with the SIU over concerns the investigation was compromised after they allege police leaked details of her death to the media.

The Muslim Council of Peel is calling for an independent inquiry unconnected to the SIU, and a review of police use of force during mental-health checks. Mr Choudry was originally from Pakistan.

“I am heartbroken for the family,” the council’s executive director Rabia Khedr said in a statement.

“Police are trained to catch criminals and shoot to kill. Regardless of all the mental health training they receive, they should never be the first responders in such incidents. We have to invest in crisis intervention services with the right expertise and protocols to manage someone in mental distress.”

Concerns over the efficacy of the SIU to prosecute police brutality go back years.

In 2008, Ontario’s ombudsman André Marin released a critical report, saying “there’s no doubt in my mind that an SIU investigation is one which is currently done through blue-coloured glasses”.

Subsequent governments have attempted to reform the SIU, with various desired outcomes.

In 2019, Ontario’s current premier Doug Ford passed legislation meant to streamline the investigations process after promising free police of “onerous restrictions that treat those in uniform as subjects of suspicion and scorn”.

Critics, including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, accused the bill of gutting police oversight.

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GTA ‘Why did you shoot me?’ A Black Mississauga mother seeks answers from Peel police

Chantelle Krupka and her partner Michael Headley were involved in an altercation with Peel police at their Mississauga home. Both were Tasered; Krupa was shot in the hip.

As she lay wounded outside her Mississauga home, a bullet from a Peel Regional police officer’s gun lodged in her side, Chantelle Krupka kept repeating the same question.

“Why did you shoot me? Why?” Krupka remembers asking. “No one answered.”

Krupka, a 34-year-old Black Mississauga mother, says she and her partner Michael Headley were unarmed on the night of May 10 when police arrived at her home and Tasered them both.

Then, as she lay on the ground, a female police officer pulled out her gun and shot her without warning, the bullet striking her in the abdomen and fracturing her hip, Krupka said.

“What could possibly justify shooting a woman on the ground after she’s been Tasered? There’s no weapons involved,” Davin Charney, the criminal lawyer representing Krupka and Headley, said in an interview Tuesday.

Exactly how Krupka came to be seriously injured outside her home on Mother’s Day — left with chronic pain, a long road of physiotherapy, and walking with the use of a cane — is being investigated by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU). It is among the latest in a series of incidents in which a Peel police officer has shot someone in recent weeks.

This weekend, Peel police shot and killed 62-year-old Ejaz Choudry, a father of four who lived with schizophrenia, following a mental health crisis call — a death that on Monday prompted hundreds of protestors to block a major Malton intersection near Choudry’s home. In April, a Peel police officer fatally shot 26-year-old D’Andre Campbell who was struggling with mental illness, and in January, Peel police fatally shot Jamal Derek Jr. Francique, a father of two.

A Peel police spokesperson declined to comment on Krupka’s shooting. On Monday night, Peel police chief Nishan Duraiappah issued a statement asking for calm while the SIU investigations unfold.

According to a brief summary of the case provided by SIU, a Peel police officer Tasered then shot Krupka outside a home while responding to a domestic call. According to the SIU, officers arrived and found a man and a woman on a front porch of a residence before “an interaction ensued” and two officers discharged their Tasers before one fired her weapon.

Other than the officer’s firearm and conducted energy weapons, neither SIU update mentions a weapon, information the watchdog sometimes includes in statements.

In an update Tuesday, the SIU said the investigation is “nearing completion.” The watchdog said it has video footage, six witness officers have been interviewed, and the female officer who shot Krupka provided a copy of her notes and has been interviewed. (A “subject officer” has the legal right to refuse to participate in an SIU investigation.)

According to a summary of the incident detailed in a written complaint to the Office of the Independent Police Review Director — the office that reviews complaints against Ontario police — the incident began after Krupka got into an argument with her ex-partner over access to their 10-year-old son. His father had custody that day but because it was Mother’s Day, Krupka said she’d asked to see her son. When her ex-partner did not agree to this, Krupka said they got into an argument by text, but there was “nothing threatening.”

After realizing she wouldn’t get to see her son, Krupka says she was relaxing at home when she got a call from an officer at 10:30 p.m. saying police were outside. According to Krupka’s complaint, her ex-partner had called police and shown them the text messages, prompting officers to come to Krupka’s home to tell her not to contact her ex-partner except to arrange child care.

Krupka says she told an officer she would not be going outside, prompting him to first threaten to charge her and next to position the police car so as to shine its lights directly into her home, according to the complaint. It was then that Krupka decided to call police to try to speak with the officer’s supervisor; when she was connected to a dispatcher, she said she was encouraged to go outside and speak with the police.

“I was afraid,” she wrote in the OIPRD complaint. “I am afraid of police because I have seen so many Black people killed or abused by police and I have bad experiences with them before.”

Krupka says she and Headley then came out of the house and that she was recording the interaction with her phone (Charney confirmed there is video showing the interaction but they are not to releasing it right now). It was then that two officers, a man and a woman, got out of the police vehicle and walked up to the front of their home, according to Krupka’s complaint.

Krupka said that she told the officers they needed to leave because they were trespassing, but she says they argued with her and the male officer moved toward her and pulled out his Taser. When Krupka said she raised her hand in protest, the officer accused her of raising her fist at him, according to the complaint.

The officer then told Headley to go inside the house, then quickly moved toward him and Tasered him, according to the complaint. Headley had been standing approximately two meters away from the officer “and was not threatening him in any way,” the complaint says.

Krupka was taken to hospital and has undergone surgery to remove the bullet fragments. She recovered alone amid COVID-19 hospital restrictions on visitors.

Police have charged both Krupka and Headley over the incident. According to the complaint, police searched the home after and seized cash, a cellphone and cannabis, which Krupka said were all legal. She alleges the charges — Headley and Krupka face charges of possession for the purpose of distributing and laundering proceeds of crime, while Headley is also charged with obstructing a peace officer and assaulting a police officer — have been laid “in an attempt to paint us as criminals and create an after-the-fact justification for the excessive use of force against us.”

“Even if there were any merit to the charges, which we absolutely deny, the use of force was excessive and outrageously abusive,” reads the complaint.

Krupka’s complaint alleges the officers involved used excessive force, accuses them of unlawful arrest and discreditable conduct, and alleges systemic racism against Peel police.

In an interview Tuesday, Krupka said she is recovering but is in a “great deal of pain” and will require physiotherapy. She will also need counselling for the emotional trauma, which includes flashbacks to the night of the shooting, she said.

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Video in civil claim shows RCMP officer dragging student, stepping on her head after wellness check

Officer has been placed on administrative duties and RCMP has launched code of conduct investigation

A still from the surveillance video shows Cpl. Lacy Browning stepping on student Mona Wang’s head after a wellness check by the RCMP on Jan. 20. (Submitted by Bridge Law Corporation)

A surveillance video that is part of a civil lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court shows an RCMP officer in Kelowna dragging a female nursing student down a hallway and stepping on her head after a wellness check at her apartment.

The suit alleging physical and emotional abuse was filed by Mona Wang, a student at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus in Kelowna, against RCMP Cpl. Lacy Browning on March 23.

The officer disputes the claim, saying that only necessary force was used to subdue the student when she became violent. In Browning’s statement of defence, filed June 15, she alleges Wang had a box cutter in her hand and denies that she assaulted the student.

None of the allegations has been proven in court.

Browning has been placed on administrative duties and the RCMP has launched a code of conduct investigation as well as a criminal investigation, according to a police spokesperson.

In the notice of claim, Wang says she was experiencing mental distress on the evening of Jan. 20, 2020, and her boyfriend called the RCMP requesting a wellness check.

The lawsuit says Browning found Wang lying on her apartment’s bathroom floor and did not provide medical assistance.

Wang said she was not able to stand on her own when Browning demanded she get up.

Dragged down hallway

“Browning proceeded to assault the plaintiff by stepping on the plaintiff’s arm,” the lawsuit states. “Browning kicked the plaintiff in the stomach while the plaintiff was lying on the bathroom floor semi-conscious.”

According to the lawsuit, Browning handcuffed Wang and then dragged her out of the suite, down a hallway toward the floor’s elevator while punching her in the face.

The officer took Wang into custody without telling her why she was being detained and transported her to the Kelowna General Hospital, according to the civil claim.

Wang says she suffered cuts, swelling and bruising from the alleged mistreatment.

“As a direct, foreseeable and proximate result of Browning’s reckless and unlawful actions, the plaintiff has suffered emotional distress, humiliation, shame and embarrassment, psychological and emotional trauma,” the lawsuit states.

History of suicide attempts

In her legal response to Wang’s claim, Browning denies she used more force than was necessary to subdue the student and take her into custody.

In her statement, Browning says Wang had a history of suicide attempts, and when the officer arrived at the apartment she found the student lying on the bathroom floor with empty bottles of pills and an empty wine bottle near her.

Browning says Wang was holding a box-cutting knife in one hand and had cuts on her arm and chest.

After she removed the knife, Browning claims the student was initially unresponsive but then became combative, and started yelling that she wanted to be killed.

“The defendant Browning then struck the plaintiff several times with an open palm, which subdued the plaintiff sufficiently for the defendant Browning to successfully handcuff the plaintiff,” the legal response states.

Taken to hospital

“The limited use of force by the defendant Browning was no more than was reasonable and necessary in the circumstances to both direct compliance as well as protect the plaintiff from further harm.”

Browning says she detained Wang under the Mental Health Act, took her out of the apartment and to a police car outside, and the woman was taken to hospital.

Her response says she moved Wang to the front door because she wasn’t sure emergency responders would be able to access the building and because she felt it unsafe to leave Wang alone.

This month, the court ordered the apartment building where Wang lived at the time of the incident provide surveillance video of the incident.

Wang’s lawyer Michael Patterson provided the video to CBC News this week.

WATCH | Surveillance footage from the apartment block hallway and lobby:

RCMP officer drags student down a hallway and then steps on her head after detaining the woman during a wellness check. 1:37

The video does not capture what happened in Wang’s apartment, but it shows Browning dragging the student down the hallway and then into the building’s lobby as other people are coming in and out of the building.

Wang is lying on the floor in pants and a bra and not moving.

At one point, when Wang lifts her head, Browning steps down on her head, forcing it back to the floor.

Browning later grabs Wang’s hair and lifts her head and shoulders up off the ground.

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran saw the video for the first time Monday night and said he was “very disappointed.”

“It is really disturbing and I think it just highlights the need for systemic changes,” he told Daybreak South host Chris Walker.

“Dealing with mental health and addiction issues is not easy, but what I saw in that video was incredibly disappointing.”

RCMP announced Tuesday that Browning had been placed on administrative duties after a review of the video and the allegations.

“An internal code of conduct and criminal (statutory) investigation is underway,” wrote RCMP Staff Sgt. Janelle Shoihet in an email.

“The RCMP will also be asking an outside police department to independently review the findings of our criminal investigation once completed.”

SOURCE

Brady Strachan is a CBC reporter based in Kelowna, B.C. Besides Kelowna, Strachan has covered stories for CBC News in Winnipeg, Brandon, Vancouver and internationally. Follow his tweets @BradyStrachan

 

Shaping a ‘just and green cultural recovery’

Olafur Eliasson, Ice Watch London

The newly formed Cultural Renewal Taskforce must embed environmental practice at the heart of its strategy. Image: Olafur Eliasson, Ice Watch London. _andrew, Flickr.

Leading cultural figures are calling on Oliver Dowden, secretary of state for culture, media and sport, to ensure that the newly formed Cultural Renewal Taskforce embeds environmental practice at the heart of its strategy.

A letter sent by Julie’s Bicycle, the leading UK charity working with the cultural sector to promote environmental sustainability and climate action, to the Secretary of State makes the case for a just and green cultural recovery strategy.

The letter has been endorsed by Sir Mark Rylance and Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys and cultural leaders including Maria Balshaw of The Tate, Nick Merriman of The Horniman Museum, Louise Stewart, CEO of Alexandra Palace, Richard Mantle, GM Opera North and Music Declares Emergency, Heritage Declares Emergency, Culture Declares Emergency and Architects Declare Emergency.

Recovery

Leading music industry executives Peter Quicke, Chair of AIM, Merck Mecuriadis, Laurence Bell, owner of Domino Recordings, and Caius Pawson of Young Turks / XL Recordings have also made public their support.

Alison Tickell, MD Of Julie’s Bicycle said: “Government must do the right thing now and tackle both the climate crisis and systemic racism together. A just and green cultural recovery programme offers a once in a generation chance to do this.”

Frances Morris, director Tate Modern said: “Government commitment to a long-lasting – and inclusive – green recovery programme is a crucial, and urgently required, step to creating a future in which we can not just survive but thrive. Only with great leadership and widespread collaboration can we meet this challenge. Time is running out.”

London Mayoral candidate and grime artist, Drillminister said: “It’s time to listen to the people. Get a just green deal.”

Pioneering

Julie’s Bicycle is in prime position to suggest a progressive, quantifiable and effective renewal strategy with environmental concerns at its heart.

Their work over thirteen years within UK culture and beyond has established best practice and innovation that yields both environmental and financial gains.

Amongst a host of examples, the pioneering Arts Council England programme in partnership with Arts Council England has reduced energy consumption by 23 percent whilst delivering savings of £16.5 million for portfolio organisations since 2012, demonstrating how sustainability and profitability can coexist.

SOURCE

Marianne Brooker is The Ecologist’s content editor. This article is based on a press release from Julie’s Bicycle. 

 

French citizens’ assembly votes on ecocide

Macron

French citizens’ assembly votes to make ecocide a crime, with over 99 percent in favour of a national referendum. Image: Remi Jouan, Wikipedia. 

President Macron convened a “citizens’ climate assembly” following the gilets jaunes crisis last year. The Convention Citoyenne pour le Climat (CCC) gave 150 randomly selected French citizens a mandate to discuss and propose policies for addressing the climate crisis.

The CCC has just voted on its final proposals.  Foremost among these is a crime of ecocide, intended to remove the impunity of big polluters acting in full knowledge of the risks to ecosystems.  The crime is defined using the concept of “planetary boundaries”, developed by the Stockholm Resilience Institute and influential in the drafting of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The SDG framework lists nine connected “planetary boundaries” (eg CO2 levels, ocean acidification, biosphere integrity) beyond which we cannot go without risking irreversible damage to the Earth’s ability to sustain human life.

Ecocide 

Valérie Cabanes, lawyer, activist and established voice for ecocide law in France and beyond, presented to the CCC in January the law proposal for which she had previously been lobbying.  Inspired by the work of late British lawyer Polly Higgins, Cabanes has dedicated many years to legally enshrining the protection of nature.

Cabanes is thrilled: “The approval of the Citizen’s Climate Convention reflects and speaks for a French population ready to adopt a law that respects the Earth’s ecosystems.

“The CCC also proposed that this law be decided via referendum, to avoid censure by parliament – letting the French population choose their own destiny: living in harmony with nature and protecting future generations – or not. It’s a symbolic and powerful step. Now we wait for our leaders to listen – and act in accordance with the proposals.”

Phenomenal 

Jojo Mehta, co-founder with Higgins’ of the Stop Ecocide campaign, works closely with Cabanes and others around the world to progress a crime of ecocide at the International Criminal Court.  She said: “The news from France is phenomenal.  It clearly demonstrates that citizens feel the urgent need for an enforceable deterrent to prevent ecosystem destruction.

“We trust the French government will respond positively and step up at the national level – even take the opportunity to lead at the international level, where Macron has already stated he believes this crime belongs.

“The ball is already rolling … climate-vulnerable states we have been working with have called for ecocide crime to be considered at the International Criminal Court in the Hague.  This vote is a huge pointer for France to move in the right direction, and will undoubtedly inspire other countries.”

Elisabeth Borne, the French Minister for Ecological Transition, has said she is in favour of the proposal. President Macron is due to meet with the citizens’ assembly a on 29 June.

SOURCE

Brendan Montague is editor of The Ecologist. This article is based on a press release from Stop Ecocide.