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‘Illegal assault’ on First Nations brothers by police caught on video was racist, lawsuit alleges
Ontario Provincial Police officers allegedly falsified their notes to justify a racially influenced violent takedown of two First Nations brothers in Orillia, Ont., that was caught on cellphone video, according to a lawsuit filed in an Ontario court this week. The lawsuit, seeking $400,000 in damages, names the Ontario government, two identified OPP officers and a number of unknown officers. It was filed in Toronto on Wednesday.
It alleges that the two officers, acting on a report that a “Native male” had fallen off a bicycle, illegally assaulted Randall May, 57, of Nipissing First Nation, and Aaron Keeshig, 50, of Neyaashiinigmiing First Nation. The lawsuit also alleges that an OPP officer, assigned to investigate a complaint over the incident filed by May, offered to have May’s charges dropped if he abandoned the complaint, according to the statement of claim.
The incident involving the OPP in Orillia unfolded in the front yard and driveway of May’s home and was captured in cellphone video that was obtained by CBC News. “In order to justify the illegal assault, detention and arrest, the police falsified police notes, falsely accused both brothers of offences they did not commit and wrongly charged Mr. May of assaulting police,” said the statement of claim, filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. “Mr. May and Mr. Keeshig, who are both First Nations men, assert that the illegal, violent and entirely unjustified treatment they suffered was the result of racial profiling, racial bias and discrimination.”
WATCH | Cellphone video of the OPP takedown of two First Nations brothers:
The OPP said in a statement it couldn’t comment on ongoing litigation. However, its statement said that the OPP’s professional standards bureau investigated the complaint filed by May in February 2019, at the direction of the police watchdog, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD). The statement said the internal investigation concluded that the allegations were “unsubstantiated” and that the findings were relayed by the OIPRD to May. The file was closed in May 2019, the OPP’s statement said. The police force hasn’t yet filed a statement of defence because it was just served with the lawsuit.
May told CBC News he doesn’t remember ever receiving the results of the investigation from the OIPRD. The lawsuit claims he suffered the worst during the takedown. He was thrown to the ground, punched and repeatedly Tasered to the point where he lost control of his bodily functions, according to the statement of claim. “I could hear myself screaming,” May said in an interview with CBC News outside his home, at the spot where the incident occurred on Sept. 15, 2018. The statement of claim alleges that the officers “illegally” detained May and Keeshig, and they never informed either man of the reason for their arrest. The document said the brothers were the victims of “assault and battery” at the hands of the officers.
The legal action comes at a time of heightened awareness of racial profiling by the police against Black and Indigenous people and amid worldwide protests over recent high-profile incidents of police brutality. In Canada, two Indigenous people were shot and killed by police in New Brunswick within a span of eight days in June. Chantal Moore, 26, was killed by police in Edmunston during a wellness check at her home, while Rodney Levi, 48, of Metepenagiag First Nation, was fatally shot by the RCMP. Read more about the lawsuit here.
MLB’s pandemic-shortened season begins
(Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, throws out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Wednesday night’s MLB season opener between the New York Yankees and the Washington Nationals.
Hospitals, long-term care homes and other workplaces in Canada need to err on the side of caution or risk being paralyzed in the face of uncertainty from the novel coronavirus, some doctors say. The lingering uncertainties surrounding COVID-19 prompted Dr. Lauren Crosby, an anesthesia resident in Calgary, and her father — Dr. Edward Crosby, an anesthesiologist at Ottawa Hospital — to write an opinion piece last week in the Canadian Journal of Anesthesiology focused on applying the precautionary principle to personal protective equipment (PPE) amid the pandemic. “If we can’t be certain then we should be safe,” she said. Dr. Roger Wong, a clinical professor of geriatric medicine at the University of British Columbia, called the idea of applying the precautionary principle — the idea of erring on the side of caution to protect public health — an important and timely conversation because COVID-19 has already hit long-term care homes and other shared living facilities hard. Read more about the precautionary principle here.
Ottawa is about to embark on a speculative frenzy now that the retirement of the country’s top military commander is out in the open. The planned retirement of Gen. Jonathan Vance, announced yesterday, has set political and defence establishment tongues wagging, even though his departure has been widely rumoured, signalled and even expected. It is also no secret that the Liberal government, to further burnish its progressive credentials, would sorely like to appoint a woman to head the institution long considered the bastion of masculinity, writes CBC’s Murray Brewster. It may certainly be time, but the government faces a conundrum in that there are less than a handful of women with the right rank and experience — though a larger, equally impressive cohort is on the way up through the ranks. Whoever takes over as Chief of the Defence Staff will face many of the same institutional and political challenges that have vexed Vance, Brewster writes. Read more about the situation here.
A new paper published in the journal Science suggests that, with global efforts, we can drastically reduce the amount of plastic waste found on land and in our oceans — although eliminating it entirely isn’t likely. The authors looked at different pathways ranging from business-as-usual, where no effort is made to reduce plastic pollution, to the best-case scenario, where multiple efforts are implemented, both upstream (at the production level) and downstream, like recycling and waste management. With business-as-usual, 29 million tons of plastic would be produced annually up until 2040. In the best-case scenario, that falls to 5 million tons. Put another way, it’s the difference between a total of 761 million tons by 2040 or 1.8 billion tons. While the idea of plastic pollution totalling 761 million tons still piling up across our planet might seem like anything but good news, the researchers say this just illustrates how much worse it could be without a global effort. “People need to know that if I do something, I’ll make a difference. And we want to highlight that, but we also want to highlight there’s a real urgency here, and we really have to get a move on it,” said lead author Winnie Lau, a senior manager at Pew Charitable Trust, an independent U.S.-based non-governmental organization. Read more about the study here.
The Privy Council Office (PCO) has launched what it calls a “thorough, independent and impartial” workplace probe into claims of harassment and verbal abuse in the office of Gov. Gen. Julie Payette. The investigation follows a CBC News report that quoted unnamed sources saying Payette has created a toxic environment at Rideau Hall by verbally harassing employees to the point where some have been reduced to tears or left the office altogether. “Harassment has no place in any professional workplace,” PCO spokesperson Stéphane Shank said in the statement. “It is a public service priority to advance efforts to more effectively prevent and resolve issues of harassment.” The PCO statement said the Governor General’s office is part of the core public service and is subject to Treasury Board policies, which include a policy against harassment. Payette said in a statement she welcomes an independent review. “I take harassment and workplace issues very seriously,” she said. Read more about the probe here.
WATCH | Review launched into allegations against Gov. Gen. Julie Payette:
China ordered the United States on Friday to close its consulate in the western city of Chengdu, ratcheting up a diplomatic conflict at a time when relations have sunk to their lowest level in decades. The move was a response to the Trump administration’s order this week for Beijing to close its consulate in Houston after Washington accused Chinese agents of trying to steal medical and other research in Texas. China-U.S. relations have soured amid a mounting array of conflicts including trade, the handling of the coronavirus pandemic, technology, spying accusations, Hong Kong and allegations of abuses against Chinese ethnic Muslims. As well, the U.S. Justice Department said Thursday it believes the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco is harbouring a Chinese researcher, Tang Juan, who is accused of lying about her background in the Communist Party’s military wing on a visa application. The department announced criminal charges of visa fraud against Tang and three other Chinese researchers. Read more about the tensions here.
Now for some good news to start your Friday: It might be one of the smaller bike parks in B.C., but the dozens of kids who take to the plywood ramps and dirt mounds are riding high after a big victory. A makeshift bike park at East Vancouver’s Grays Park has been frequented by crowds of kids ranging from toddlers to teenagers since the start of the pandemic. But the attraction recently caught the attention of the Vancouver Park Board. City staff deemed a pump track — a bike course made up of berms and mounds of dirt — unsafe and had planned to start removing it Thursday. However, after a public outcry from kids and parents, staff confirmed with CBC News it will be working with parents from the community to ensure the park stays intact — and safe. “The first thing I did was yell, ‘Hooray!'” said 12-year-old Malina Haras. “We started riding around and we told all our friends, told them to tell their friends, told everyone we know to come and ride as long as they want.” Read more about the bike park here.
Front Burner: Tenet postponement spells trouble for Hollywood blockbusters
Film buffs were still holding out hope that Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated movie Tenet could salvage what is left of the summer movie season. But when its release was indefinitely postponed this week, it raised questions about how the pandemic will shape the future of Hollywood blockbusters. CBC entertainment reporter Eli Glasner breaks down how the coronavirus is changing the industry, and what he misses most about going to the movies.
Today in history: July 24
1534: French explorer Jacques Cartier lands on the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec on the first of his three voyages to North America. At the rocky headland of Gaspé known as Penouille Point, Cartier erects a 10-metre cross bearing the arms of France and claims the territory for King Francis I.
1814: The bloodiest battle of the War of 1812 is fought at Lundy’s Lane in what is now Niagara Falls, Ont. The British suffer 878 casualties with 84 killed, and the Americans had 853 with 171 killed. Although neither side could claim victory, the battle checked the advance of invading U.S. forces and they withdrew to Fort Erie.
1967: French President Charles de Gaulle delivers his “Vive le Quebec Libre!” speech from the balcony of Montreal city hall to a crowd of 10,000 gathered to hear his address. After a public rebuke from Prime Minister Lester Pearson, de Gaulle returned to France a day ahead of schedule.
1969: The Apollo 11 spacecraft splashes down in the Pacific, ending the historic mission that first put a man on the moon.
1974: U.S. President Richard Nixon is ordered by the Supreme Court to surrender the Watergate tapes. The decision leads to Nixon’s resignation two weeks later.
2011: Roberto Alomar becomes the first player ever to enter the Baseball Hall of Fame as a representative of the Toronto Blue Jays. Pitcher Bert Blyleven and former Blue Jays GM Pat Gillick are also inducted.