Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ottawa: Police 'A Few Bad Apples'

Earlier this week I was talking to Ottawa Police Services at a conference on GLBTTQ youth. Two of the members in my break out group were police. In my critique of the police services they took it as a personal attack on them as individuals simply due to critiquing the services as a whole. The Ottawa Police are one of the most progressive services when it comes to GLBTTQ issues, but there have been many cases of police abuse especially against youth and more specifically street youth.

My critique included asking about the ability for Police to actually be youth-friendly in any way. Another police officer came up to me privately and stated that in fact many police officers view a group of youth as potential trouble and are not respectful of youth. The police at my table gave the argument that there were simply "A Few Bad Apples".

The "Few Bad Apples" argument is something that has been heard of in many organizations of coercive power. The best example in recent history would be the Abu Gharib scandle in Iraq where torture was being enacted by US military on Iraqi prisoners. CBC did a documentary on it by the same name. In reality the situation was not just "a few bad apples," but the system itself which was in place.

A famous experiment was done by Phillip Zimbardo in the 1970's about the corrupting influence of these forms of power positions. It was known as the Stanford Prison Experiment and it took regular males and put them in a simulated prison with who was to be guards and prisoners randomly chosen. The result was terrifying where the guards started to truly be violent and the prisoners becoming very subservient.

In the case of the Ottawa Police certain issues are not just an issue of a few bad apples. Police brutality against homeless people in the downtown core is a systemic problem. Under the "few bad apples" analogy we would find proper reprimands, criminal proceedings and, more sensitivity training then one day to cover all marginalized groups. How sexual assault victims are treated with utmost disrespect is not due to a few bad apples. And, that tasers are still considered acceptable despite the evidence of the serious harm they cause. These are systemic and institutional problems in this power system, problems with decisions from the top down as well as not truly dealing with those who abuse their power.

Second image from Ottawa Indymedia of Ottawa Police at Bush Protests 2004

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Blogger Helena S. said...

Interesting and important blog you have here. Yes, activists are often treated as terrorists even if they were fighting for a good cause. But I believe that things will never change without some level of activism.

10:33 a.m.  
Blogger Jade said...

Thats why we do activism :).

If you interested in protesters being treated as terrorists by police however, check out this 8 activist organizers arrested before the Republican National Convention protests took place being charged as terrorists.

10:37 a.m.  
Anonymous online casino neteller said...

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5:57 p.m.  

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