Saturday, January 26, 2008

Three years ago, in May 2005, Victoria teenager Willow Kinloch was testing her wings ie getting a bit drunk on a night out. She was dropped off at her home, but, having lost her keys (hic!!!), she couldn't get in. Instead of doing something sensible neighbours, when they saw her staggering about on the lawn, called the police. Thus began a night of horror for Willow. Whoo!,whoo !, whoo!, a police car showed up to arrest her and take her in. I guess it was a very slow night, but maybe every night is slow in Victoria. Here in Winnipeg the word on the street is that, if you want the cops to show up in less than four hours when somebody is attacking someone else with a knife or a bat, that you bullshit 911 and tell them that somebody has already "been hurt". If you tell the truth that the disaster hasn't happened yet they'll likely need the ambulance anyways when it does. In any case a cruiser arrived to take Willow, then 15, in.
First the cops tried to take Willow home (after, of course, a long detour down to the cop shop-too strange). The neighbour had alleged that Willow was not just drunk but had also taken ecstasy. How this can be determined by peaking through curtains I will leave up to the readers imagination. let's just say that the neighbour sleuthed out something that no trained sniffer dog could ever have done, especially from behind a crack in window curtains. When the cops returned Willow to her home she couldn't find her key (well, that was pretty obvious the first time around), and with two stand-ins fro the Incredible Hulk glaring at her she couldn't figure out how to use the buzzer to call up to her parents' apartment. You can gather that the girl was pretty well hysterical by now. Back to the cop shop where they threw will into a padded cell to sober up, a process well underway by this time.
Down at the tank Willow at first refused to get out of the cruiser car, doing the hysterical bit of course. The cops did a bit of "manual override" and hustled her into the cell (see graphic above for "the cell"). Once in the cell Willow continued with her panic, kicking the door of the room. She was,however, cooperative enough to remove both her sweater and her bra. Later a prison matron came in (a little diversion here, such people are "affectionately" known as "Big Bertha" amongst the intellectuals of the jailhouse). Further stripping was demanded. Now, at 15 years of age Willow had no clue that when Big Bertha says "get down on your knees" you do indeed get down on your knees with no complaint. In doing further stripping Willow kicked one of her shoes off against a wall of the cell. Bad move. Big Bertha went nuts, grabbed the kid by the throat and shoved her up against the wall (see the video at THIS SITE for the play-by-play). Before Big Bertha could succeed in killing the kid two male officers rushed into the cell. Between the three they easily outweighed Willow by six to one(eight to one if you consider the matron as an outstanding example of "Berthaness"). Never mind the one cop who stood by the doorway, watching the whole affair. How can you say "outnumbered" ?
The response ? Police first handcuffed Willow's hands behind her back. They then hogtied her feet and dragged the cord underneath the cell door(see above photograph from the video surveillance in the cell), trapping the teenager in helpless distress for four hours. It helps to be 15 years of age. Older people or those who are overweight subjected to such treatment might easily go into respiratory distress.
Willow, now 18, has launched a civil suit against the City of Victoria and the Victoria police claiming excessive use of force and unlawful confinement. A lawyer, Murray Mollard, from the B.C. Civil Liberties Association called the ordeal that Willow endured "almost inhumane treatment of a young girl" and "cruel and unusual punishment, really". Emphasis on the "really" ! The civil court case is due to begin in June.
God bless the age of video. In years past such things would hardly ever have come to light. In these times the police pretty well have to have everything on tape, and making the evidence "mysteriously disappear" often leads to more trouble than the incident recorded would have. Yet, just as in the case of the taser death of a Polish immigrant at Vancouver International airport last year, the existence of such tapes doesn't mean that the police will not delay release of said evidence for as long as is possible- in hopes the problem will disappear in the meantime. People do move, deaths do happen and people do give up. The taser incident took weeks for the person who videoed it to obtain the release of his film. In the case of Willow Kinloch the civil suit had been dragging on for 3 years until the police finally released the video last Tuesday.
The Victoria Police Department, by the way, is now the subject of 36 investigations into police contact. at least ten lawsuits are in the court dockets named the police as as defendants. The police chief of Victoria has been suspended due to a RCMP probe into "unknown allegations".; One can hardly imagine the situation where the police don't publicly release information on "allegations" made against ordinary members of the public. Seems like the Chief of Police has privileges the rest of us don't have. One should also note that such incidents are hardly restricted to the City of Victoria. It's just that the vast majority of them never come to light.
Just this day Molly was over visiting some folks in Winnipeg's "gandland". The conversation turned to how difficult it was to get the police to respond at the block where these people live (which has two gang houses). The block isn't actually that bad. There hasn't been a murder there for almost 7 years. One street up and a little to the east there is a block where a murder takes place pretty well every year (twice last year). The last murder on the first block, however, was a doozy. After three !!!! 911 calls to the residence the police finally !!! showed up 9 hours later to discover two women stabbed to death. The perp was actually only caught because one of his friends turned him in. The situation was quite different many years back when a policeman's mother lived on the block. Once 9 cruiser cars showed up to arrest one guy. They did it. He was handcuffed and on the ground. Then it seemed like every last cop had to have a go at beating him. It was a rather gruesome sight, and my informant went out and told the police sergeant in charge to call off his officers. When the sergeant started to give him grief he was informed in no uncertain terms that if he let it continue that his name would be on the television that night. The beating was called off, and within less than 5 minutes the arrestee was in the back of a cruiser heading for his vacation at the Crowbar Resort.
If you are interested in this sort of thing I suggest you check out the Cop Watch.Net site. This is pretty well much American only. We also have our own group here in Winnipeg, the Copwatch Winnipeg.

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