Over the last two days, lots of people have been talking about what happened to Mike Miller in Toronto, which I blogged about here.
I’m really delighted to see that this issue is getting so much attention. There are two pieces I’d especially like to link to: this editorial in the Toronto Star, and Desmond Cole’s excellent piece, also in the Toronto Star.
So far, the Toronto Police are trying to make out that Gill and Smith were simply protecting the kids being arrested because they were young. Nonsense. This is really disappointing, because it shows rather than trying to be honest about what happened, they’re attempting to whitewash it. Intelligent people understand that honesty is always the best policy. The longer you try to deny something that is obvious to everyone else, the worse you look.
Come on, Toronto Police. Every day you keep up this pretense and refuse to punish the real criminals in this video, the more you send the message that you think you’re above the law.
I predicted that the cops would come up with some kind of extenuating circumstance that explained why the officers chose to block the camera. My next prediction is that they’re shortly going to say that the video doesn’t tell the whole story, and that Miller was behaving in some kind of way that made the officers nervous: that he looked shifty, that he was obstructing the arrest, that he resembled someone who is a known threat to police.
So let me pre-emptively shoot that one down. When Gill and Smith showed up, the first thing the original officer said was, “Turn the camera on that guy over there.” I don’t know much about police jargon, but I do know a coded message when I hear one. That comment was cryptic enough that it only would have made sense to people who already knew what it meant from prior use. I’m betting, as we investigate this matter further, that to turn the camera on someone means to get in their face with your badge, just the way Gill and Smith did to Miller. In other words, it means to disregard a person’s right to film the police and bully, intimidate, and harass them until they give up, or until they are goaded into defending themselves–at which point they can be arrested for assaulting an officer, which is a felony.
I’ll say it again. Constables Gill and Smith broke the law, and they should be charge with committing crimes under colour of authority.