The police arrest of James Bishop was a disgrace.
It is perfectly possible that his arrest was necessary -- and in effecting an arrest force is sometimes needed. (Although was an arrest with force needed for an alleged trespassing? Assume it was).
Police face dangerous people who may well have hidden weapons in bulky clothes. Police face dangerous people who may be under the influence of narcotics. Force is something we trust the police to use when needed.
But to say that five Toronto police officers — using multiple baton and elbow blows -- had to use about five minutes of force to restrain a single unarmed man who was playing basketball with his son and wearing exercise clothes on a YMCA basketball court suggests a level of incompetence that is just not believable. There was no danger of hidden weapons or of some super strength from narcotics. James Bishop did not physically attack the police – although he may have been rude and obstreperous when asked to leave.
The fact that one officer is then seen seizing a cellphone from a bystander who was videotaping the arrest is shocking. (What is also surprising is that the officers were apparently oblivious to the fact there would be other video cameras running for security).
Watch the video – note the blows at 1.43. Those first blows may be legitimate and necessary to restrain Mr. Bishop (whether an arrest in the circumstances is proper is another issue but assume it was). But the blows at 1.58, 2.12, 2.55 and 4.06 were inflicted on someone who was restrained or should have been restrained (the police surely must have had cuffs with them). Note also the taking of a bystander’s cellphone at 5.51 (subsequently returned).
What really motivated the police here? I leave that to the readers to decide.