by Mike B.
On December 6, Toronto police in the downtown entertainment district assaulted Toronto-area hip-hop artist and youth worker, Verse.
The incident began when police decided to intervene in a discussion between the MC and a taxi driver. Verse was struck at least once, before being thrown to the ground and repeatedly punched. Verse sustained injuries that included bruising and swelling on his face and head, after which he was arrested and taken to 52 Division. He was detained throughout the night, for more than 8 hours and was eventually released with no charges.
Incidents such as this one are far too common in our city, as at least 6 Toronto Police have been charged with assault this year. This past October two Toronto Police Constables, Edward Ing and John Cruz were charged with the assault causing bodily harm after Richard Moore, a 58-year-old man was hospitalized. Const. Allan Racette was charged with assault, while Const. Boris Petkovic was charged with aggravated assault and for discharging his weapon. Const. Ricardo Gomez was also charged with assault, as was Const. Jason Goss who is alleged to have assaulted a man during an arrest in the Lansdowne and Bloor area. But for every case of an officer being charged with assault, there are countless cases where the police get away with their crimes. Frequently enough, the victims are themselves charged “assaulting a police officer” or “resisting arrest” after getting a beat down by the boys in blue.
This past October 2009, The Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) was opened. On their website they describe their office as an “arms-length” agency of the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General whose goal is to provide an objective office to deal with “public complaints against Ontario’s police”. Folks can make complaints against the police online on their website: www.oiprd.on.ca. According to critics, this new agency does little to protect the interests of the people making a complaint, and only forwards the concerns to the police agency in question. Until we have genuine civilian oversight of the police and community control over police policy, there will be little we can do defend against the day-to-day police abuse in our city.