Monday, July 9, 2012

Disgraceful conduct

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.


Anonymous said...

What penalty will these criminals in uniform face? Hopefully much harsher then the same crime committed by an ordinary citizen, since we place our trust as a society in these people.

Anonymous said...

Thye only beat the crap out of him because he is black

James C Morton said...

Anon #2 -- I'm not sure. I suspect any police bias is more economic than racial. Not that this is an excuse and race may have been a factor -- but before concluding that I'd need some evidence.

Ernest Julius Guiste said...

Clearly an issue of a lack of proper education and training with a broader public issue of denial of equality rights for African-Canadians. The latter issue is for the Toronto Police Services Board. They have done little if anything to remedy the problem of racial profiling and intollerance on the service. That is the problem.

James C Morton said...


I'll defer to you on this. The video remains appalling.


Anonymous said...

Some audio would have helped.

EDP, cocaine trafficking, violating trespassing orders, more chest pains than Fred Sanford etc. Hmmm.

Why didn't he just leave?

He knew the cops would come.

That being said there has to be an investigation into the police response.

Blaming it on race is just Liberal white guilt which has got us into this mess in the first place.

Anonymous said...

What a shamful goings on while Bishop's son is watching. It takes seven policemen, seven mind you to restrain this man...what a pile of crock. That ugly bald headed piece of humanity should have been fired on the spot if he has not been.