Toronto cops are getting a free ride in the corporate media in the lead up to the G20 summit, as protesters are presented as the biggest threat to security in the city.
But what the media is ignoring is the track record of the Toronto Police, which indicates they represent a far larger threat to the community than protesters.
"Toronto police have been involved in 500 deaths in the last five years, they've tried themselves 31 times and aquitted themselves 31 times," Syed Hussan from the Toronto Community Mobilization Network told the Toronto Media Co-op this morning.
Most recently, Toronto cops have come under fire for the murder of Junior Alexander Manon, an 18-year-old who was killed after running from police on May 5. Alexander was beaten to death and his neck was broken, says Hussan, and the police have since lied about the incident. "These are huge concerns, and the community is mobilizing," said Hussan.
The corporate media won't take the word of Manon's parents, who saw his body at the morgue, and have confirmed that their son was beaten by police.
"The media is racist, straight up… It doesn’t matter if it is the CBC or a privately owned broadcaster," said Noaman Ali, who works with BASICS Free Community Newspaper, when he spoke in Toronto last month.
The racism Ali refers to is reflected particularly strongly in the media's coverage of police violence. Extreme cases like the killing of Manon usually only make a blip on the corporate media landscape. But the daily realities of police harassment and brutality in Toronto most often go totally unreported.
"Every day I hear about friends and families who are pulled over, people who are harassed and intimidated, I've done workshops in Jane and Finch where the police have just barged in, just walked around, and just walked out, so there's ongoing harassment and intimidation," said Hussan.
In a 2008 letter, members of the Jane and Finch neighbourhood in Toronto expressed their concern about the police presence in their communities.
"The 'serve and protect' credo of the police is not felt in our community," reads the letter. "Citizens have described seeing or hearing abusive language, threatening behaviour, the excessive use of physical force, unfounded allegations, coercion and torture," it reads.
But instead of being admonished for their practices, Toronto Police have taken advantage of the G20 to rally for more weapons and protective gear. Tactical teams have been training with the ARWEN-37, a so called "less lethal" weapon that fires plastic bullets. Cops have stated they won't rule out the use of these weapons during the G20 summit.
"It's realistic to accept that there very possibly could be an injury to a person being struck by this projectile, but it's a less serious injury because it's deemed a non-lethal [weapon]," Ontario Provincial Police officer Mel Tourigny told the CBC.
Touringy's statement came as top politicians targeted people with particular political views as legitimate targets for police repression during the G20 summit.
"I think it shows the unfortunate power that a small group of thugs has," Treasury Board President Stockwell Day told CTV on Sunday. "And when I'm talking about thugs I'm talking about thugs, I'm talking about the anarchists and the violent groups who have already indicated that they're going to be there and they're going to cause trouble," he said.