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Police Accountablity: 

Sammy Yatim, Edward Snowden, Toronto cops and the biggest crimes on Earth.

Written by: Andrew Squire
August 2, 2013

Last Saturday, july 27, 2013 Sammy Yatim was shot 9 times by a member of the Toronto POlice force.
There was widespread public outcry about what seems to most people to be an insanely disproportionate use of force.

9 bullets to deal with a deranged 110 pound teenager holding a small knife.
Sammy was standing well outside of reach, and so none of the officers were in fact in any danger at any time during the incident.

The streetcar was empty except for Sammy, so there was no danger to any member of the public.

The only person who was, in fact, in any danger was Sammy himself. It’s true that he put himself in danger. It’s also true that he was murdered by a Toronto Police officer that night. It didn’t have to happen, and the killer must answer for his crime.

There were vigils held the following day, some attended by thousands. It gave me hope to see so many willing to take to the streets to demand accountability. (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/story/2013/07/29/toronto-sammy-yatim-vigil.html)

More than a few people connnected the police murder of Sammy Yatim to the behaviour of the Toronto cops during the 2010 G20 summit,a debacle that is officially the largest mass arrest in Canadian history.
We have yet to see any consequences for or accountability from the Toronto Police regarding that shameful display of police criminality.

RIP Sammy, we might have to wait a while before we bring your killer to justice.

For some reason all of this makes me think of Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower. If we can’t hold the US government and the NSA accountable for violating nearly every person on Earth’s basic rights to privacy, what chance do we have of getting answers about the Toronto G20, much less the police murder of Sammy Yatim? We are talking about blatant, documented, widespread criminal behaviour from people in positions of great priveledge. Are they, like the equally criminal multinational banks, ‘too big to jail’? I hope not.

The thing about it is this: who do you call when the police and the government are committing crimes? Who will hold them accountable? The answer is obvious: you and I have to do it, or no one else will. And I’m not calling for torches and pitchforks here, or anything like that. What we need to do is honour the basic principle of accountability: if you do wrong, no matter who you are, you must answer for your crimes. If we give up on that, then there really will be nothing left and we will collectively descend further into absolute savagery: a world where the strong are right because they can crush the weak.

I hope that does not happen. But make no mistake: this is our job. The every day people. Your friends and neighbours. If nothing else, we must remember that there is such thing as right and wrong, good and bad. That even if it’s difficult or impractical to hold these official criminals accountable at the moment, we will remember their crimes and will remember that they have not answered for them. We can’t afford to be quiet about it.

Small or large, local or global, these official criminals will be seen for what they are, called out for what they are, and eventually be tried and sentenced for what they are. If we fail to cultivate and maintain a culture that insists on accountability for all people, regardless of badges or security clearances, then we risk losing our knowledge that all people are fundamentally equal, that what is wrong for one is wrong for all.

In Snowden’s first interview with Glenn Greenwald of The Gaurdian, he was asked about what the US government might try to do to him, and why he did what he did. He said this:

“You have to make a determination about what it is that’s important to you. And if living unfreely but comfortably is something you’re willing to accept.”


Well, I’m getting more uncomfortable by the day, and I don’t think I can accept being anything less than free. Can you?

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