By Shafiqullah Aziz
The infamous video of former mayor Rob Ford smoking crack, recorded by Mohamed Siad, has finally been released. Following the completion of court proceedings in the Andrew Lisi extortion case, the publication ban on the 2013 video has been lifted.
After the release of U.S. online publication Gawker’s article “For Sale: A Video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Smoking Crack Cocaine”, a series of raids and arrests were conducted throughout Toronto, affecting several communities. The largest raid carried out during this period was dubbed Project Traveller and saw the community of Dixon being brutalized by police in the early morning operation. Reports of stun grenades being thrown at a 96-year-old grandmother and a 67-year-old mother being kicked in the face during the operation immediately emerged as the Dixon community protested against the raid, which saw the arrest of dozens. Doors were smashed, furniture and other property was destroyed and the cost was placed on the tenants, even if nothing was found in their apartments or they were mistakenly raided.
Beyond the raids and arrests, the city underwent a volatile period of media coverage that simply sought to sensationalize the issue in order to increase viewership and ratings. Ford was the target of media scrutiny that portrayed his impact on City Hall and his austerity agenda as somehow exceptional. Three years later under the administration of John Tory, it is very clear that there was really nothing exceptional about the cuts instituted by Ford.
Finally, the critical connections to those who had recorded the video, or were present when the video was being recorded were also ignored or skimmed over. The murder of Anthony Smith and the attempted-murder of another connected to the video essentially exposed that the ruling elite in this city had free reign to facilitate the brutalization and murder of working class people of colour, and nobody would bat an eyelash. The extortion case against Andrew Lisi, which was dropped today, is a clear example of this brutality.
For more information, check out our previous articles on the Rob Ford Crack Scandal, Rob Ford’s Crack Use, Terror in Dixon, The Project Traveller Raids, and Raids and Evictions are a War on Our Communities.