***UPDATE: Canada cops taser 82-yr-old patient on oxygen tank. CanadaCom, May 10, 2008
**UPDATE: Canadian taser-death on video. BBC, Nov 15, 2007
*UPDATE: City eyes surveillance cameras*. Daily News, Nov 30, 2004
The above is a photo of a newspaper reporter who willingly allowed herself to be tasered (October 25, 2001) by police officers, instead of critically covering the story of their plans to use this horrible weapon on the public. A few days later that same reporter interviewed me in regard to what happened when I went before City Hall. The story below explains:
A couple of years ago (in December 2001) I wrote OWED TO FRUITLOOPS. It describes what happened to me when, as a concerned citizen, I went before City Council on October 30, 2001 to ask them if they were planning on installing surveillance cameras around town to go with their police helicopters and taser guns.
To make a long story short, the Mayor accused me of trespassing on public property and told me to leave. When I refused he called the cops who duly arrived to escort me out. In the subsequent years the town has been terrorized by crime and surveillance cameras are going up everywhere. And the helicopter hovers overhead at night, chasing terrified teenagers into the park.
Here's the story in greater detail:
In the town/city where I live, ie Mytown, the mayor is on leave as editor of the daily newspaper. Since becoming mayor he likes to communicate with his 'subjects' by writing a cutesy column wherein he refers to our town as "Fruitloops".
As in most other towns and cities across Oceania the police and politicians work closely together in setting up BIG BROTHER surveillance. Mytown has a police helicopter which started daytime surveillance flights last summer and will commence night-time flights once a high-powered light has been affixed to its underbelly. There was no consultation with the people prior to its first and subsequent flights.
A town elsewhere in my province hit the national news this summer when its RCMP and city politicians set up a 24-hour video camera filming activity on its main street. The Provincial Privacy Commissioner was of the opinion the police camera infringed on the privacy rights of the citizens and requested the Federal Privacy Commisisoner look into the legalities of it. This non-partison agent of the people duly studied the issue and published a scathing report recommending the police take the cameras down. He ruled cameras went against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms of Canadian citizens to be anonymous in their activities. Our Charter was written by Pierre Elliot Trudeau during his reign as Prime Minister. It replaced our original constitution, the BNA Act. Moreso than the US Constitution it is full of ambiguities which make it easy to interpret one way or the other. In any event, it's all that stands between the people and the government when they go out looking for more power, as they've been doing on a continual basis before and after the events of 9-11.
Shortly after the Privacy Commissioner published his ruling recommending the police remove the cameras from Othertown, a retired police officer who sits on city council in Mytown wrote a letter to the editor defending the installation of cameras as a "tool" to "keep people safe".
He whined on about how lawyers and judges seem to be on the side of the criminals and all the bad guys keep getting away. He mocked an editorial that had agreed with the Privacy Commissioner when he referred to cameras as "Orwellian". The ex-cop councillor closed his letter with the admonshiment, "Wake up and smell the coffee - this is NOT 1984."
This aroused my suspiciouns that the police and politicians were planning cameras for Mytown.
I wrote a letter-to-the-editor and arranged to be on the agenda for the October 30th City Council meeting to get an answer and raise privacy and financial concerns. Mytown is presently in dire financial straits, with taxpayers being nickel and dimed to death with increased taxes, fines and fees to pay for the bureaucratic wish lists.
In the interval between the councillor's letter and my attendance at counicil a front-page story in the daily rag announced the RCMP's acquisition of two taser guns.
There was a huge coloured photo of a newspaper reporter being zapped with the new "tool". As per the helicopter there had been no public consultation.
When I appeared in front of council on the scheduled day the mayor and his councillors acted in consort to ensure my issues didn't get aired. During the back and forth discussion between myself and the councillors the mayor interjected a point-of-order telling the councilman to stop talking and me to "wrap up" as he was allowing me only ten minutes, and I'd already used up six. When I explained that I had pre-arranged with the City Clerk for a presentation time of twenty-minutes I was told that wasn't possible and was reminded again that my time was disappearing and that furthermore my questions should be directed privately to the letter-writing councillor and not the council as a whole. When I disagreed and attempted to continue with my questions I was rudely interrupted and told, "Your time is up". Once again I defended my right to speak.
The mayor would hear none of it and declared that he was resorting to something he had never done before and he proceeded to declare me a "trespasser" on public property. He told me that if I didn't leave he would "have me removed". I said, "I'm not leaving until I'm finished", at which point he called a recess and he and his fellow councillors stood up en masse and left the chambers.
Left standing alone at the podium I returned to the seating in the public gallery and waited for whatever came next. In no time at all the press were there with their cameras and within a few minutes a member of the RCMP arrived asking me to accompany him out of chambers. When I refused he left and a half-hour or so later four other members of the RCMP arrived to "escort" me out. At this point I stood up and walked out of the building surrounded by five policemen and into a press feeding frenzy.
The radio coverage and television coverage that evening were full of "Woman refused to leave when asked and had to be physically removed by police" stories.
Little mention was made of what I'd been there to talk about - ie helicopters, cameras and taser gun:
The other town paper - a thrice weekly free paper - wrote up a version and between the papers, radio and television the public weren't much the wiser about what had really occurred, other than that I'd been "removed".
Luckily, for people who really wanted to know, the city council meetings are televisied and aired on local cable. I was extensively interviewed a day or so later and a good article appeared giving a bit more of my side, and the radio and television did a bit of the same.
People who took the time to watch the tv coverage and read between-the-lines concluded I'd been treated disrespectfully and the mayor and his councillors were exposed behaving in a dictatorial manner. I did a follow-up letter of complaint to City Council and RCMP which in the most part were ignored, except for an excerpt here and there in the paper.
The mayor in the meantime started "damage control" by getting some news coverage himself by standing on a roadway one morning waving to people and wishing them a "good day". He also knocked randomly on peoples' doors to ask if they had any concerns. He didn't trespass on my property.
So too were the police exposed as acting in a heavy-handed manner toward a law-abiding citizen conducting public business in a public building. In our part of the world the police don't act with anywhere near such aggressiveness with native Indian protestors who have been conducting road blocks and sit-ins on private and crown land all over our area. This example of the law being applied differently depending on race was not lost on the populace.
I didn't return to City Council to continue my presentation because in the meeting that commenced after my expulsion a motion was made that I be BANNED from future meetings - unless I agreed to meet in private with the mayor beforehand to give "assurances" that I would behave "respectfully".
And there it rested until today when a front page story reported that City Council is thinking about installing surveillance cameras. I've substituted their real names with the ones the mayor uses in his Fruitloops columns, and "Mytown" is a pseudonym for where I live, but no doubt similar scenarios are playing out in Yourtown. It was after reading this article that I wrote the ODE TO FRUITLOOPS poem and sent it to both newspapers for publishing. ~ Jackie Jura
from Mytown newspaper, Dec 19, 2001:
BIG BROTHER could be watching you!
Smile. You could soon be on surveillance camera. City council voted Tuesday to explore the idea of positioning surveillance cameras in high-crime areas of [Mytown].
Mayor [McBurger] said Tuesday the proposal was raised during a Graffiti Task Force meeting Friday, along with the suggestion the anti-graffiti programs be year-round instead of its current focus on the summer months.
"The cameras could be effective in fighting graffiti -- and other crimes -- in areas where there are repeat problems", he said.
And while the Canadian Human Rights Commission condemned [Othertown's] use of surveillance cameras, the mayor raised the possibility of their use here.
Councillman [Peter Piper] moved the RCMP be asked to investigate the usefullness of surveillance cameras and report to council.
"It's a public safety issue as well (as graffiti)," he said.
...Mayor [McBurger] said expensive cameras are needed to get a good image. He didn't have exact numbers, but speculated they could run $20,000 or more. "What has to be balanced is the return in crime apprehension the city would get", he added.
"The city will have to check into the human rights arguments", he said.
"If you're in a public place, it's pretty hard to argue that your privacy is being invaded," he said.
"It's definitely a can of worms. No doubt about it."
"However", [McBurger] continued, "there is also no question that video evidence is effective in nabbing criminals. Don't underestimate the cost of graffiti vandalism."
Councillor [Joe Longjohns] pointed out that enforcement is needed to back the city's stand on graffiti.
Councillor [Grapes] agreed, saying, "Some cities insist that vandals who are convicted keep a certain area graffiti-free for a year."
Councillor [Longjohns] also said, "Education in the schools is needed and some products should be banned".
...Mayor [McBurger] said, "Last summer, 14 graffiti vandalism cases were prosecuted -- far more than has been carried out in the past." (end quoting)
***Canada cops taser 82-yr-old patient ("corporal said to guys 'Ok, get him', then bang, bang, bang 3 times"). CanadaCom, May 10, 2008
**Canadian stun-gun death on video. BBC, Nov 15, 2007. See CANADA'S HERO ROBERT DZIEKANSKI
*City eyes surveillance cameras. Daily News, Nov 30, 2004
The City is again exploring the idea of setting up surveillance cameras around town. The idea was debated at City Hall in 2001 and 2002, then fell off the agenda as the then-federal privacy commissioner launched a constitutional challenge in B.C. Supreme Court...The city's risk manager said Monday a company is promoting new equipment that is run by remote control and can shoot for 48 hours on a rechargeable battery. The $30,000 cameras include infrared night shooting capabilities. "The purpose of the camera is public safety"...The picture quality is so high the pole-mounted cameras can clearly capture the bar code on a pop can on the ground. "Another aspect is no one would know where it would be. We aren't required to tell people where it is. We would through the media, let the community know if it's approved and goes through, that the cameras could be in a variety of locations in the city," he said....In 2001, city council discussed the idea of surveillance cameras, in particular to reduce graffiti vandalism.
ORWELL'S NIGHTMARE LAND (to the tune of Winter Wonderland)
SNOOPING HELICOPTERS & CAMERAS (what they're all about in response to brilliant question). Dec 4, 2003
Cops deny taser caused fetus' death. United Press, Dec 19, 2001. Go to 20.Thought Police & Snitches
3.Surveillance and 20.Thought Police & Snitches
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~