“The Killing of Fredy Villanueva:
Policing, Race Bias & Media Complicity in Canada”
Explores policing and race, the culture that gave rise to and supports it. The complicity of the mainstream media in sustaining the lack of accountability in those mandated to serve and protect, and how their failure to exhibit maturity and decency in being fair and impartial in reportage on visible minorities, specifically the Black community, and in catering to the fears, insecurities, and bigotry of the majority population have been contributors in the replication, moulding and support of racism and racial bias. The complicity of the legislature and judges in supporting a police culture of disorder and impunity while throwing the book at others, especially non-white minorities, and self-preserving techniques for people to best navigate interactions with the police.
“The Killing of Fredy Villanueva” is about deconstructing and confronting racism, a demand to a return of the old-fashioned law and order ideology of “to protect and serve,” equal and consistent enforcement and application of the law, procedural fairness, protection of human rights and civil liberties, and healing and strengthening bonds of nationalism so the nation’s ethnically diverse citizenry can truly sing with pride, “O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.”
Table of Contents
Implicit in citizenship is membership willing to sacrifice life and limb in defence of nation. In that respect, African Canadians have a long history of being good citizens. People of African descent – freeborn, runaway slaves, and former slaves from the United States and France fought for the British Crown during the Canadian wars of 1780’s and 1812, gaining the moniker of Black Loyalists.
During World War II, Canada was one of the nations who recruited young men from the West Indies to fight for them. Ostensibly, to fight for a land they had never seen. Black West Indian youths in their prime, some not yet men, contributed to the war effort.
In April 2002, Cpl. Ainsworth Dyer, a Black Canadian soldier was killed in the Allied war against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Suffice it to say, people of African descent have been shedding blood for Canada since the 1780’s. On the other hand, when it comes to reciprocity from the state and its institutions to allow African Canadians the unfettered benefits that go with being a citizen, a different politic emerges. The Black community is seen as outsiders, as having no roots in the society and no stake in its well-being and as a sort of internal enemy. As a result, Blacks continue to feel the sting of racism, discrimination, and marginalisation.
Chapter 1: The Killing of Fredy Villanueva
Is a brief overview of the 2008 shooting of Denis Meas and Jeffrey Sagor-Météllus, and the death of Fredy Villanueva by a police officer. All three Latino youths were unarmed. The chapter is framed against the jeremiad of police abuse against visible minorities and Aboriginals.
It is my contention that judging from the non-implementation of recommendations from the Bellemare Report 1 & 2 (1984 & 1988), Coroner’s Yarosky 1992, the Corbo Report of 1992, and the Malouf Report of 1994, in respect to the police and their interaction with visible minorities anyone hoping the inquest into Fredy’s death will bring clarity, resolutions or changes to the culture of policing are going to be sadly deluded unless…
Chapter 2: Policing & Race
Criminality exists in every community, society and country, and among every race, religion and ethnicity. Disproportionate number of criminals from any culture, race, religion or society is never an indictment of nationality, country, religion, race or ethnicity. Furthermore, no race is a unified biological population. As such, it is backwardness and dishonest to tar and feather an entire community on account of the few who commit crimes.
Yet, on account of the ideological philosophies in support of racism, that is exactly the vice-grip within which people of African descent find themselves.
Blacks are positioned as, and accepted as a racial monolith with a singular culture, to wit ingrained criminality, stigmatized and criminalised over the errant few, and victimized by a police culture of race-based policing – skin-colour being automatically a cause for suspicion in lieu of probable cause, and Black neighbourhoods detailed as zero tolerance and suppression zones.
Subscription to the criminalization of Blacks (and by extension certain non-white communities), and race-based policing is the source of law enforcement officers demonstrating a different code of behaviour and attitudes towards Blacks than the rest of the population.
Under greater scrutiny by police officers (and by extension private security guards), Blacks are subjected to frequent stops, being questioned and searched.
Oftentimes in the process, they encounter officers who do not see Blacks as citizens, deserving of common courtesy, civility, respect and most importantly, the presumption of innocence that has long been one of the cornerstones of the law. Consequently, those officers exhibit behaviours that are downright hostile, abusive, openly racist, and or would relentlessly assail or assault their dignity.
While law enforcement has consistently and steadfastly denied the existence of race based policing, documentation to Black officers admitting having racially profiled Black youth is provided, thereby supporting my case that racial profiling is endemic and an intrinsic aspect of Canadian policing.
In addition, to bolster my contention that racism thrives in law enforcement- that race bias is police culture; I’ve also provided evidence showing that Black police officers are themselves not immune from victimization and acts of racism by fellow white officers.
Chapter 3: Sentencing Disparity
Since the legacy of racist ideology is at the heart of the law and order machinery mobilized against Blacks, their is continued collusion between politicians, legislators, the police, judges and prosecutors to ensure people of African descent who fell afoul of the law feel its full weight.
As presented evidence show, judges are prone to impose longer sentences on Blacks than on whites, even when their crimes were of the same magnitude or of a lesser degree, and it was not unusual for Black juveniles to be tried as adults in order for them to receive a more severe punishment.
Chapter 4: Deconstructing Race Bias
Government policies, legislation and programs to combat racism have failed to have a bigger impact because white folks (and by extension Blacks) are trapped by complex historical, institutional and deep-rooted racist and cultural forces, and education to dismantle some of those foundation stones of anti-Black racism has been woeful to say the least.
While endless whites have repudiated racism and racist ideologies, a vast majority are so emotionally bound to race prejudice that they don’t care to or simply refuse to accept and institute equality on the social level. Hence the continued state of affairs. This chapter seeks to exorcise the devils of racist beliefs that arose out of the evils of slavery and its legacy of institutional racism.
Chapter 5: The Myth of the Lazy Negro
Given that Judeo-Christian doctrine espoused the view that Blacks are a people born to servitude, African enslavement was seen as unto perpetuity.
The life of a slave was one of constant labour. There were no holidays, vacation, age of retirement or a pension. The enslaved were worked to death and until death. Consequently, the application of “lazy” to Blacks was none other than a slander to hamstring the race, and was psychological punishment and retribution over the freedoms brought by Emancipation.
Emancipation threatened the economic survival of plantation economies as well as portended change to the racial and social dynamics of the society. It positioned the former slaves to earn wage. To determine what their labour was worth, to control, set its price, sell it to the highest bidder, work for self and the options of migration – freedom to move wherever and start a new life.
Chapter 6: Why Don’t Blacks Learn From Other Immigrants Trap
Giving the impression that people of African descent are anything but industrious, Blacks are routinely scolded. Oftentimes the telling is along the lines of taking a page out of the books of other immigrant communities and lifting themselves up by their own industriousness. While the advice appears to be sound and logical, it is misguided and emanates from ignorance.
Such a view conveniently ignores the roles of racism, discrimination, marginalisation and racial hatred in sabotaging the industriousness of people of African descent and keeping the race in the vice grip of poverty. It overlooks the deliberate underemployment of educated Blacks and those with professional qualifications/certification, and how white skin advantage enables other ethnic and immigrant communities an easier go at economic gains.
Furthermore, what is never exposed is that members of some immigrant communities are products of merchant/business and or criminal/mafia collectives in their own country, and thus invested in abroad with a resource pool that includes financing and expertise at their disposal.
Chapter 7: Media as an Instrument of Racism
While freedom of speech is worth defending, this chapter details how corporate owned media in Canada have constantly reinforced and reproduced racial bias in their newspapers, slant and colour stories that deal with race, cater to the bigotry of the majority population, use photo to highlight and imbue the crime with increased severity and inspire fear of the race to which the person(s) belongs, and the reliance of counterfeit images of Blacks in television commercials.
Bearing in mind that a society can only truly prosper when there is tolerance and respect to those who are ethnically, culturally and religiously different, such things perpetuate racism.
The overwhelming emphasis is on the Montreal Gazette, for excluding the short-lived Montreal Daily News that lasted less than two years, the Gazette has been the province only English daily newspaper for the past thirty years, ever since the closure of the Montreal Star in 1979.
With such marketplace monopoly, I’ve set out to show that the Gazette has repeatedly abrogated journalistic ethics of accurate and balanced reporting, opting to be a bastion of support for racial bias as well as being a running dog for the police, all to the detriment of Montreal’s Black community.
Chapter 8: Law & Disorder. Police as Thieves. The Culture of Impunity
Amidst the calls and implementation for stricter penalties to rein in crime and punish wrongdoers, this chapter documents how judges continue to be complicit in giving the criminals in law enforcement the lightest possible sentence, if ever it comes to that, and police ethics and disciplinary boards continue to exonerate officers or give them the lightest of slap on their wrist. Such a state of affairs has justice in Canada operating with her eyes open and being of a multi-tier system. There is one standard of justice for the police, another for legislators, a different one for whites, and an even different one for Aboriginals and Blacks.
Chapter 9: The Politics of Containment
Exposes the collusion between Montreal’s City Hall and the police to contain Montreal’s non-white communities, police harassment to get Black youths into the system, and the usage of incivilities by Montreal’s police to oppress the community as well as generate revenue for the city.
Chapter 10: Economics of Crime and Punishment
Explains that as strange and sad as it is, on account of the inter-relatedness between crime, punishment and economics, crime is a necessary and much needed evil.
The infrastructure that surrounds crime and punishment is an employment bonanza. Tickets and fines put money into the State’s coffers thus police zealousness in issuing tickets.
City administrators, the justice system – prosecutors, judges, defence lawyers, clerks, bondsmen, prisons, ancillary and associated industries need crime and a constant prison population to maintain their employment.
Law enforcement is a business of knowing. As such, police in every city have files on every criminal organization, street gangs and the like, their leadership and who controls what area. They know who is doing dirt and the locations of drug dens and its dealers.
Chapter 11: How to Best Deal With The Police
Overwhelming documentary evidence attest to police officers benefitting from an ingrained culture of impunity. Its sanctification by the courts allows them to figuratively and literally get away with murder, brutality and oppressive conduct. As such, the police are the deadliest threat to the health, well-being and quality of life of Blacks and other non-white minorities. This chapter offers self-preserving techniques to best navigate interactions with the police.
Copyright © 2011 by N Oji Mzilikazi, All Rights Reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted (other than short excerpts for review purposes only) in any form: electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, online reproduction or recording without express written permission by N Oji Mzilikazi.