Target: Andre Marin, Ombudsman of Ontario, Canada
Goal: Applaud the launch of an extensive investigation on the excessively forceful measures used by police in Ontario.
Recently, police in Ontario shot eighteen-year-old Sammy Yatim after he allegedly exposed himself on a streetcar. The teenager had a knife, but threatened no passengers. Police shot him nine times and proceeded to tase his lifeless body. After a mass outcry by the citizenry, Ontario’s Ombudsman, Andre Marin, began a critical overview of Ontario’s police department. He also plans to investigate the Special Investigations Unit, which acts as the department’s watchdog. Marin found that there have been many similar cases to Sammy Yatim’s over the past twenty years in Ontario. Marin compared the culture of excessive force usage by Ontario Police to the film “Groundhog day”, saying “inquest after inquest, police shooting after police shooting, what’s happened to all these recommendations in twenty years? Have they been gathering dust in a bin somewhere?”
Marin then officially declared the launch of a “wide ranging” investigation on the use of force in the Ontario Police Department. This investigation will examine the use of firearms and Tasers by police officers in conflict situations, and it will result in recommendations for the department to adopt. Furthermore, an inquest into three other residents shot dead by police over the past three years is set to begin in October. Marin has long railed against the “complacent culture” around the abuse and use of force by police in the Greater Toronto Area, reports The Star. Applaud Ombudsman Andre Marin for condemning and investigating the use of excessive force by police.
Dear Ombudsman Andre Marin,
Thank you for standing up against the culture of brutality all too common to police departments in North America. An eighteen year old with a knife is not matched in force by policemen wielding guns; indeed, he is outmatched. Although Sammy Yatim may have been guilty of lewd acts, the penalty for lewd acts in Ontario is not, of course, death by firing squad. The post-mortem tasing of Yatim’s body seems especially grotesque. The fact that these sorts of actions are par for the course in the Ontario Police Department is cause for concern, and it is commendable for you, a public official, to express such concern.
Police are meant to protect and serve, not to threaten and intimidate, and the culture of excessive force surrounding police in the Greater Toronto Area certainly seems both threatening and intimidating. Thank you for not being intimidated and for vowing to investigate the prevalent pattern of excessive force usage by Ontario police. Hopefully, your investigation will result in the adoption of de-escalation practices and the abandonment of firearms and tasers as first-line responses to conflict. Your investigation helps to set a standard not just for police in Ontario, but for police across North America. The use of excessive police force is a worldwide problem, and by taking steps to combat it, you are standing up for citizens against a culture of violence, repression, and fear.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: quinn.anya via Flickr