RIGHT TO THE POINT: Leggett slams MP's post-G-20 stance

Rob Leggett
By Rob Leggett
July 21st, 2010

 I shouldn’t be surprised that our MP, Alex Atamanenko, has decided to side with those who are complaining about the police efforts to suppress violent protest at the G20 (Atamanenko said he supports investigation into alleged police violations at G-20, Castlegar Source); after all, he is the same MP who, despite evidence to the contrary, stated that the police wrongfully detained Kyle Snyder, and should offer a public apology.

Atamanenko was wrong about that and, in my opinion, he is wrong about this. We must remember that the worked-up complaints from the CCLA and others regarding mass arrests and allegations of police brutality need to be kept in perspective. Many of the complaints seem to involve the quality of the bathrooms in the detention area or that the police banged their batons on their shields in an “intimidating” manner.   The very few more-serious complaints, which have yet to be proven, could be nothing more than the disgruntled rumblings of those who wish to wrongfully paint the police as “the facist state” which they precieve them to be.   It ‘s very fortunate that the police had the insight to video tape the detention areas, and will be able to quickly resolve any issues that may arise but, of course, now that the detainees know there was video surveillance, I believe the location where the supposed abuse took place will change.   I am not saying that it isn’t possible some of those arrested for breach of the peace were not directly involved in any violence, but they were released in a matter of hours and Canadians’ constitutional rights have managed to live through the tribulation intact.   I think that Atamanenko should also try to place himself in the position of the police.   Prior to the summit, police had found weapons hidden in the area and protest organizers not only refused to condemn violent protest, but publicly stated that “people will protest in ways that make sense for themselves”. The prospect that police would face violent protestors was not only very real but virtually guaranteed … the only real question was how severe it would be.   Were mass arrests necessary?   Again, we need to put ourselves into the position of the officers who were faced with a mass of people who often outnumbered the police themselves and were growing increasingly hostile, while at the same time, being encouraged by a few wannabe anarchists.   It should go without saying that if the police are feeling overwhelmed and ask you to disperse, and you don’t, then you will get arrested.   While being extremely outnumbered by angry and possibly dangerous protestors (some of whom were hiding and protecting moltov-cocktail-throwing, knife-weilding thugs), while having urine, paint, stones and other objects hurled at them, and facing a continuous verbal barrage, police were able to maintain professional behavior. They should be commended rather than condemned.   The guarantee of free speech and assembly can only survive when there is an appropriate value for the rule of law. Genuine protest admits the reality of a state authority while making available to the public a dissenting point of view, and the same is true with civil disobedience. What we saw during the summit protests, however, had nothing beneficial to propose to the general public.   It was simply opportunistic disorder.   Despite what Atamanenko and others may believe, it’s only the professionalism and preparedness of police that prevented circumstances from being much worse.   Consider what might have happened without the government’s investment in security, had the anarchists liable for the present street damage broken through the security fence and upset the G20 events. Whatever steps the police took to prevent this from happening were both necessary and welcome.   It’s my belief that, no matter what actions the police undertook to keep the peace during the summit, there would have been complaints regardless.   If we’re really concerned about the destruction of property and the compensation of residents and merchants, we – Atamanenko included – should support the police effort to ensure every one of those lawless thugs is brought to justice.   …But then, maybe its just easier to point the finger at the police.

Categories: Op/Ed