Law & Disorder: Police as Thieves

Law & Disorder: Police as Thieves

By N Oji Mzilikazi

January 26, 2012

(Originally published in the Montreal Community Contact Volume 22, Number 02)

Law, respect for rules, order, and justice are the pillars upon which a society is able to maintain social stability and a good quality of life. When it comes to criminality by law enforcement officials, the justice system is all too willing to go easy on cops.

MUC (Montreal Urban Community) Police Constable Gilles Frenette, a 20-year police veteran stole two shirts from The Bay. Frenette was fired by the MUC. Convicted, the judge gave him an unconditional discharge, which freed him from having a criminal record.

Since the judge cut him slack; he didn’t have a record, the police union believed his employer should as well. The MUC rightly refused to reinstate him. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. In August 1985 it ruled his dismissal was too severe. That precedent changed policing culture for the worst. It made it extremely difficult to fire police officers over wrongdoing, and engendered an entitlement to impunity.

Police have an entrenched culture of protecting their own. Hence the proclivity of law enforcement agencies to suppress police misdeeds, anything that puts them in bad light, and their long-standing opposition to inquiries of any kind.

The police so have the justice system by the balls that in 2004 RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli, halted an RCMP investigation into allegations that $30 million of its employee pension fund was mismanaged.

In April 2008, Barbara George, the RCMP chief human resources officer was found in contempt of Parliament. She gave false and misleading testimony when she appeared before the House of Commons in regards to pension issues.

Julian Fantino, the former Toronto Police Chief and commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is now a member of parliament. During his reign as Toronto’s chief of police, the force was rocked by three major corruption scandals to which clarity was never brought to bear.

Fantino was protective of his officers to any and all criticism. Officer misconduct was always an isolated case and not a pattern of police misconduct. In 2005, Fantino pressured Ryerson University to get “Bad Cop, No Donut” banned from its campus radio. The program aired stories of police misdeeds.

On Jan. 7, 2004, Sgt. John Schertzer, Constables Joseph Miched, Ray Pollard, Steve Correia, Richard Benoit and Ned Maodus of an elite Toronto Police drug squad team were arrested and criminally charged with offences including obstruction of justice, assault, extortion, perjury and robbery related to their work between 1997 and 2002.

Citing delays, all charges were stayed by Superior Court Justice Ian Nordheimer. The officers were freed without trial. The travesty resulted in an appeal to the Ontario Court of Appeal. Nordheimer’s decision was overturned, and a new trial ordered for five of the six original defendants.

In January 2012, the biggest police corruption case in Toronto’s history, featuring defendants Schertzer, Miched, Pollard, Correia, and Maodus went before the courts.

An April 2011 wiretap discovered that a retired police intelligence officer was attempting to sell the confidential identities of about 2,000 undercover police informants as well as undercover officers to the Mafia, for $1 million.

The said officer was arrested in October 2011 at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport prior to boarding a flight to Costa Rica. The police found the list on his computer. One must assume he was on his way to shop or sell the list. No charges were laid.

While investigations are a quiet matter, the hush, hush was such that the breach in police security with the potential of extremely damaging repercussions, and the former officer’s name was kept out of the news and newspapers. That is until January 17, 2012, when it was published in a Montreal newspaper.

The very next day, the officer in question, retired Sergeant-Detective Ian Davidson, a special investigations unit intelligence officer, and 33-year veteran of the Montreal police force with an unblemished record of service, allegedly committed suicide by cutting his neck with a “sharp object” at Laval’s Hotel Chateauneu.

Then again, even if his death was really murder, we would never know. Murder would open up a can of worms and put the police department under intense scrutiny. Something all law enforcement agencies shy away from.

Interestingly, former Montreal Police Chief Jacques Duchesneau was quoted in a newspaper as remembering “Davidson as an honest guy.” As any behavioural psychologist can attest, older people do not start engaging in deviant behaviour out of the blue. The seeds had to have been sown in childhood/youth.

Police Chief Marc Parent said Davidson failed in his attempt, and called the matter “a really exceptional case.” Parent’s statements deserve to be taken with a grain of salt. Although the top-secret list was discovered on Davidson’s computer in October, police found a treasure trove of ultra-sensitive documents and computerized data in the hotel room.

Given that his home had been raided for incriminating evidence, those newly discovered documents make it impossible to emphatically say that nothing was sold, or that no informant, undercover officer or police operation were compromised.

There is nothing exceptional about Davidson’s case. The list of Canadian cops working with criminal organizations or aiding and abetting criminals, or being criminals themselves is rather long. Furthermore, as evidenced by the 1979 cease and desist order from Andre De Luca, chief of operations for the MUC Police, Montreal police has a history of detectives running their own secret department.

In April 2001 MUC Detective-Sergeant Alain Desrosiers, a 23-year veteran and two private detectives; Michel Charbonneau and Claude Aubin, a retired MUC police detective-sergeant with 33-years of service, and former police partner of Desrosiers, were arrested and accused of passing confidential police information to organized crime groups, including bikers and the Russian mob.

In lightening speed justice, the case was adjudicated three days later. Desrosiers walked away with a conditional sentence of two years less a day, and a six months curfew. Aubin was sentenced to two years in prison, and Charbonneau received an 18-month conditional sentence.

One would think a most grievous penalty would be in place for any law enforcement official caught selling information to criminals, and judges would be more than happy to throw the book at them. For, not only could police operations be compromised or jeopardized, but the lives of informants, undercover officers and those in uniforms stand to be endangered or taken.

The slap on the wrist for Desrosiers and the light as a feather sentencing for Aubin was a travesty of justice. It points to collusion between prosecutors, the judge, defence lawyers, police interest and the defendants. Both Desrosiers and Aubin should’ve lost pensions, houses and dogs if any, and do serious hard time.

Who is to know how much money the mob was able to amass, and how many persons might’ve died or escaped arrest because of the inside information Desrosiers provided?

A thorough investigation would’ve led to policy changes that would’ve made it impossible for the likes of Davidson to get his hands on confidential information. Stiff sentences would serve as a deterrent to any officer contemplating selling confidential information. The quick trial was about the police saving face and possibly preventing Desrosiers and Aubin from exposing the ugly and criminal face of policing.

In 1995, Montreal Police Officer Jean Belval was busted for illegally checking out the police database and fraud. In dropping a dime on misdeeds by the police, he incriminated himself as planting hashish on suspects and committing perjury over 300 times.

In March 2005, Claude Aubin, representing a group of five ex-police officers held a press conference. He called upon the provincial government to hold an inquiry into the methods the police used in Operation Amigo to dismantle the Bandidos biker gang. Traitorously, he was concerned about the righteousness of police procedure.

In 2008, RCMP employee Angelo Cecere, who translated wiretapped conversations from Italian, was arrested for passing information to the Montreal Mafia. In September 2009, Mario Lambert, a Montreal police homicide detective was charged with passing information in police databases to criminals, and reassigned to police administrative duties until the court process was over.

In October 2009, Montreal Police Officer Nancy Lauzon, whose father was arrested in Operation Axe and faced “charges of conspiracy, drug trafficking and committing a crime for the benefit of a criminal organization,” was charged with “accessing a computer database for the wrong reasons.” She was restricted to administrative duties.

Montreal Constable Pierre Goulet worked at the Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport. He also worked for Colombian cocaine kingpin, Elias Cobos-Muñoz criminal organization. From 2000 to 2002, Goulet used his police badge to avoid suspicion and transport millions of dollars through the Quebec-New York State border.

When arrested, Montreal Police Chief Yvan Delorme made it a point to emphasize that Goulet criminal activity took place outside his hours of duty. In other words he didn’t taint his badge or facilitated the importation of cocaine at the airport. Goulet was sentenced to a mere 30 months in prison for drug trafficking, money laundering and conspiracy.

In May 1985, RCMP Staff Sgt. Paul Sauvé, a 25-year veteran, and the number three man in the RCMP Montreal drug squad was found guilty of possession of eighty kilograms of hash.

In May 1991 high-profile criminal defence lawyer Sidney Leithman, whose clients included drug cartels, Montreal West End gang, the mafia, murderers, drug dealers and bank robbers was shot to death in his Saab convertible while waiting for a traffic light to go green.

Soon after Leithman’s killing, RCMP drug squad officer Jorge Leite, who sold information to drug cartels, including the one run by Colombian “Godmother” Ines Barbosa, fled to Portugal. Leite’s boss, Inspector Claude Savoie, an officer for 27 years, and who headed the RCMP Montreal drug squad committed suicide.

Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas: What An Arsehole!

Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas: What An Arsehole!

By N Oji Mzilikazi

January 24, 2012

It’s a long-standing tradition for the winning teams of America’s major league sports to visit the White House and meet the President. The Boston Bruins won Hockey’s Stanley Cup in 2011, its first since 1972. Their White House visit was scheduled for January 23, 2012.

Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas, the playoff MVP and winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy decided to put his politics ahead of the team. He refused to join his teammates at the White House.

His asinine statement on the NHL website, couching his hatred for President Barack Obama included, “the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the rights, liberties, and property of the people.”

George W. Bush spent 8 years in office. It was under Bush’s reign that anti-terror legislation and the like started to undermine civil liberties.

Obama inherited a system that was in a deficit, a tailspin and full of holes. Obama succeeded in bringing about the demise of Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the biggest act of terrorism on American soil. Obama succeeded in bringing American troops home from Bush’s ill-advised and illegal war in Iraq.

And Thomas dares to act as if Obama is responsible for the pickle jar America has found itself in. Tim Thomas is an arsehole with a capital A.

Afro Indo Unity: Can The Ganges Ever Meet The Nile? Part 4

Afro Indo Unity: Can The Ganges Ever Meet The Nile? Part 4

By N Oji Mzilikazi

January 12, 2012

(Originally published in the Montreal Community Contact Volume 22, Number 01)

The unwillingness of Caribbean/West Indian people of African descent/Black people in general, to recognize they should not and ought not count on others to help them, open some to call foul and bear animosity when persons of other ethnicities could, but wouldn’t.

When it comes to East Indians, the “you should help me gang” tend to look upon them as not supportive of the struggles of people of colour when they themselves are Black. Case in point: Multi-award winning Quebec author Neil Bissoondath.

Bissoondath is from Trinidad. He was one of 108 prominent Canadians that were signatories to a letter published in the December 17, 2002, Globe and Mail newspaper that expressed solidarity with Jewish students- at risk for anti-Semitism, on university campuses throughout Canada.

While it is Bissoondath’s right to align himself to any cause of his choosing, complaints were that Jews have numerous powerful organizations in place that are vigilant- forever searching for anti- in whatever form so they could weed it out, they have friends in high places, and Neil never once spoke on or attached his signature to any issue affecting the West Indian/Black community – not even that of racial profiling.

While those points are valid, they failed to take into consideration the political nature of things. In the west and here in North America sucking up to Jews and Jewish interests award brownie points. Consequently, politicians and others regularly trip over themselves and others to profess what a friend they are to Israel and the Jews, and condemn their competitors for not loving Israel as much as they do.

America’s upcoming elections have already resulted in politicians of all stripes doing their affirmation of love [for Israel] and condemning those not enamoured of some of America’s policies vis-a-vis Israel. Canadian politicians do the same all the time, even Black ones. Need I recall any of PM Harper’s statements or our government Mid-East Foreign Policy?

When one factor in the ethnicity of those with the most amount of power in the publishing industry, it makes political sense for Bissoondath to affirm solidarity with Jews.

More importantly, East Indians from the West Indies and Indians from the South Asian sub-continent do not take kindly to the “black” tag. They do not see themselves as Black even when they are as black as tar. Therefore it is unreasonable to expect a Bissoondath to display solidarity with people of African descent.

Vijay Singh is blacker than Tiger Woods. Whenever an issue of race comes up in golf, Vijay is never made part of the conversation and neither would he inject himself.

Always pointed out is that Singh is from Fiji, as if that doesn’t make him black. And though Vijay is Fijian, he is a product of East Indian Indentured labourers who were transported to Fiji. And it’s not as if East Indian Fijians do not experience racial discrimination in Fiji.

Ever since white-skin Iranians invaded India, defeated the dark skin Dravidians and established a caste system based on white skin/light skin preference, Indians have come to believe and see themselves as Aryans/Europeans. (A theory long debunked.) Reinforcing that Aryan perspective is Sanskrit and associated languages tabled part of the larger Indo-European language groups.

As for Indians with black or dark skin: They reconciled their complexion to centuries of exposure in the sun- the combination of socio-economic conditions and racist stratification relegated them primarily to being labourers/the peasantry- whiteness was at their core. They were still Aryans.

Most of the Gods in the Hindu pantheon were black originally. While some still maintain their blackness, others have been whitewash to even becoming blue. Lord Shiva the Dravidian God is depicted to be completely black. Goddesses Durga and Kali are black. Lord Ganesha, Lord Krishna, and Lord Vishnu are black.

In Hindu mythology, the black Lord Vishnu is the main God and Lord Rama and Lord Krishna are his incarnations on earth. Still Lord Rama is portrayed as the classical Aryan light skinned God. In the North of India, Lord Vishnu is depicted as primarily fair, while in the South where he is known as Venkateshwara, he is totally black.

Increasingly, Indian books portray Lord Rama and Lord Krishna as blue-skinned – a lighter representation for black.

While India is historical rich culturally, educationally, philosophically and scientifically, is a melting pot of many different races, has a multitude of languages and religion, and has a black aboriginal heritage, blackness is demonized and its European ancestry is overwhelmingly emphasized.

India is a nation with a deep rooted caste, actually discriminatory and racist system that extends itself throughout its society.

The founders of Sikhism tried to avoid the blight of caste ever creeping into their religion by having all its males carry the same surname – Singh. Nonetheless, caste stratification still found its way into the religion.

Ever so often, honour killings/murders involving Canadian Sikhs that were motivated by caste issues make the news.

The power of caste was of such, the anonymity of a new country- West Indies, allowed Indentured labourers who were Hindus the opportunity to jump caste. It gave them the chance to adopt family names of higher castes, become community and religious leaders and gave their progeny the rights, respect of class and social mobility that is the domain of those castes.

In India there has always been a correlation between complexion and caste, caste and education and caste and economic status/opportunities. Since white is the lightest there is, and white is associated with beauty, physical attractiveness, sophisticated qualities and education, and black with peasantry; light skin/white skin is coveted.

Evidence points to it not being farfetched to think or say Indians are attracted to white people, enjoy associating with them, and get pleasure by marrying “white” as a means of “moving up” in class.

In India, all the stars and lead characters in Bollywood films are overwhelmingly white/light skinned. Also white/light faces dominate its billboards and television advertisements hawking products. In the face of unrelenting cultural pressure that promotes colorism- melanin based discrimination, the dark-skinned cannot help but succumb to sentiments of inferiority.

In India, skin-lightening creams are a billion-dollar industry. In “Beyond the pale?” by Naresh Puri, (BBC News, September 25, 2007), Puri details that Bollywood heartthrob and superstar Shahrukh Khan did a 40-second advertisement promoting “Fair and Handsome,” a skin-lightening cream for men.

In the clip, he gives a dark skin Indian male who has no luck with girls the cream. After repeated usage it lightens his complexion. He was then able to attract the girls.

Racism allowed the cosmetic industry to capitalize on colorism by producing and developing a wide range of skin-lightening formulas for dark skin people. When skin-lightening and skin-bleaching products bear catchy names like “Fair and Handsome,” “Fair and Lovely,” “Fair and Flawless,” or “Skinbright,” chances are they are going to be readily consumed.

The CBC news of October 29, 2007, carried the story of Canadians Pratik Lodha and Eman Ahmed-Muhsin who were working on developing Gloriel, a skin-lightening cream they hoped to sell to L’Oreal.

Gloriel was based on Nobel Prize-winning gene-silencing technology that will reduce the production of melanin in the skin. The article identified Lodha as being from India.

Colorism was one of the bi-products of African enslavement. It continues to be a persistent and pernicious evil. The culture of the times combined with the dearth of consciousness has exacerbated its power to damage.

In the West Indies, light skin/red/brown skin gals and guys were always highly favoured, considered a catch and even celebrated in song. The West Indian childhood game, “Brown Girl In The Ring” made mention of her looking “like a sugar in a plum, plum, plum.”

Though Black West Indian women in the colonial era grew up with Venus de Milo and Ponds as their skin lightening agents and essential beauty aids, dark-skinned women were not under pressure to bleach their skin as in the present culture. Dark-skinned Black women are noticeable absent in advertisements, videos, and even films unless it’s for a “debasing” role.

In the 90s reggae singer Buju Banton’s “Love Mi Browning” – an open declaration of his love for light skin/brown skin women brought colorism back to the fore. Given that youths overwhelmingly look up to artists as idols/role models, and the song was a smash it, Buju’s preference resonated with a great many, and by extension fostered discrimination against dark-skinned women.

In a reverse of black consciousness that was spear-headed by Rastafarianism, skin bleaching is huge in Jamaica, and it’s not limited to women. Men are bleaching as much as women. Vybz Kartel is a reggae superstar. He is also a pro-bleaching advocate with a line of bleaching products.

In 2009 Lisa Hype, a member of the Vybz Kartel camp released the song, “Proud A Mi Bleaching.” Her message further entrenching self-debasement.

The huge demand to whitewash blackness has resulted in products being more potent, manufacturers and people pedaling the dangerous, and consumers not fearful or caring about the side effects of skin-lightening products.

According to the BBC News, January 4, 2007, Yinka and Michael Oluyemi were fined in British courts for selling toxic skin lightening creams in their two cosmetics shops, and in spite of official warnings and previous convictions. The court estimated the couple made over £1m from selling the banned bleaching creams. Users of the preparations risked permanent skin and blood vessel damage and infection.

The skin bleaching business targeting and involving Africans from the motherland is close to a billion dollar industry.

Colonialism produced the affliction of colorism among Africans and exacerbated that which already existed among Indians; trapping both in the same trick bag and both thinking they have nothing in common.

To be continued

500 Goals: Congratulations Jarome Iginla

500 Goals: Congratulations Jarome Iginla

By N Oji Mzilikazi

January 8, 2012

When Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla scored his 500th goal against the Minnesota Wild in their NHL game in Calgary, Alberta, on January 7, 2012, the 19,200 plus fans jammed into the Scotiabank Saddledome erupted with Iggy! Iggy! Iggy! and a standing ovation for No. 12 .

I watched the game on the telly, and was all smiles for Iggy.

Since 2004 Jarome Iginla has been my favourite player, and the Calgary Flames my hockey team. I follow all their games. When they aren’t being showed on CBC or  TSN, I’ll watch their matches online. (Their televised matches out west are blocked for us in the east.) If there is no live streaming, I’d listen to Calgary Sports Radio – Fan 960.

Fittingly, Iginla scored his 500th goal in front of his home crowd – his 253rd goal at the Scotiabank Saddledome, and also the game winning goal – the 80th in his career.

In scoring 500 goals, Iginla joined an elite team. He became the 42nd player to do so, and the 15th to do so with the same team.

Congrats Jarome!