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Bon Cop, Bad Cop


Earlier this evening, The Star reported on what might somehow rank as one of the strangest videos on YouTube. Recorded on Monday afternoon at the protests in Montebello, the video shows the tail end of a confrontation between Dave Coles (president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada) and three masked men who seem hell-bent on rilling up him, his fellow protestors (“old guys, grandmothers, grandfathers”), and the line of riot-ready police.
For a minute or so, it’s just Coles being a good samaritan, trying to stop a potentially violent confrontation and demanding that one of the men who picks up a rock put it down. It’s already extremely tense by the time that someone starts pointing at the masked protestors and chanting “policier!” Coles demands that the men take off their masks, and the majority of the crowd join him––some even reach for the bandannas themselves––and accuse the masked men of being cops, police provocateurs hired to start a riot. When Coles actually looks at one of the men dead-on and says, “you’re a police officer,” the masked men all freeze, seemingly dumb-struck. And then they kind of start being aggressive again, until a little over two minutes in, when there’s the weirdest police takedown you’ll probably ever see.
The video is a strange thing to watch: there’s absolutely nothing beyond circumstantial evidence and hearsay to suggest that the masked men are cops, but the whole thing just feels so off. Notably, this is not the first report of provocateurs from the protests: The Harper Index has several other equally strange stories, while The Star‘s article mentions (among other tidbits of accusatios) matching “yellow triangles” on several alleged provocateurs’ boots that match those on boots that police officers were wearing. (Those triangles, by the way, almost certainly denote Canadian Standards Association–approved footwear for “light industrial work environments”––because, really, if you intend to fight cops in riot gear, you’re gonna want toe and puncture protection.) Some commenters have pointed out the the “yellow triangles” are not, in fact, CSA logos, but are really more like the octagon-shaped Vibram logo.
Hopefully the police learn their lesson from this and outsource all future actor/provocateur positions. There’s a good reason why there aren’t many famous cop-turned-actors out there, and God knows that ACTRA members could sure use some extra cash and a bit of nation-wide exposure.
UPDATE (August 23, 8:00 p.m.): The CBC is now reporting that Quebec police have admitted that “their officers disguised themselves as demonstrators,” but denied that “its undercover officers were there on Monday to provoke the crowd and instigate violence.” As one reader points out, however, in at least one instance the police’s (French) press release seems to contradict the video.
Thanks to reader Rebecca for tipping us off!

Comments

  • WannaBinToranna

    During the civil rights movement, the CIA would plant agents in with black protesters. it was usually these agents who would start a riot and become violent, giving the cops a reaosn to come in and bust heads, and of course, middlwhite reads about the “violent” protest the next day.
    Governments don’t play fair.

  • guest

    I understand why the police may want undercover reps at an event like this but it does look like they were trying to create a problem as an excuse to bash some heads. Ha The beefy cops are about twice the size of the skinny anarchists. They do stick out—that and of course the deer in the headlight look when confronted.
    Really a shame.

  • guest

    and the other strange thing is how they kinda slide against the wall behind the police line as if to get away from the real protesters, then they don’t really do anything and then get escorted away as fast as they came.

  • David J. Widmann

    If only all activists were as protest-savvy as Coles, there’d be a lot fewer riots. Even if those guys weren’t cops (which I doubt, due to the kid-glove handling the masked dudes with rocks got from the riot police), that’s a good way to diffuse a situation.

  • Damon Kemp

    Hmmmm, can we say entrapment?? It all seemed kinda staged to me. My favorite part was the way the takedown went. These guys push themselves into the thick of the police formation and then they don’t even get beat down. Interesting.

  • guest

    The ‘yellow marks’ aren’t CSA tags, they’re the Vibram logo. But that’s not all, in this photo you can see that the boots have IDENTICAL tread patterns, right down to the last heel rib and ball-of-foot star. Same shank too. At least one of the ‘protestors’ took the trouble to spray paint and duct-tape his police issue boots.
    Really shameful, especially given recent concerns about the RCMP‘s leadership.

  • guest

    good quality image of the soles in question:
    http://www.cupe.ca/gallery/montebello-monday/Montebello_20_ao_t_050
    most probably the vibram logo.

  • guest

    It’s not about the police learning a lesson. If they were in fact police, it means that somebody ordered them to do this to turn the protest violent.
    The first problem with this is that they put the public at risk, but really the issues is that they were trying to ruin the protest, so that the general public would dismiss the protester’s concerns.
    If they are cops, they should be fired. In the process of the firings, find out if they acted alone, or on orders. Then find out how high it goes, and fire all the way along.
    Everybody who thinks this sucks should call their MP.

  • guest

    Here’s an annotated version, with the bootsoles enlarged and contrast-corrected. Editors, please consider using this photo! (credit to CUPE)
    http://img501.imageshack.us/my.php?image=montebello20aot050highlcv4.png

  • David Topping

    Thanks for that; I’ve revised the post to include a link to that photo.

  • guest

    That surge in traffic you notice is a result of Torontist making it on Boing Boing (boingboing.net).

  • guest

    Has anyone bothered to check arrest records for the protest? At least here south of the border, those ‘protesters’ names should *theoretically* be part of the public record, and it would be a small matter then to correlate them with their badge numbers, etc. Of course, if they were real cops, they wouldn’t show up, precisely because they weren’t arrested. Not proof, of course, but damn close, I think.

  • David Topping

    From The Harper Index’s story:

    The protest legal aid committee…received no report from authorities of their arrests, lending further credence to allegations the two were not genuine protestors. “Yes, these were definitely agent provocateurs, cops, and legal folks have no record of these supposed arrests,” said Peoples Global Action (PGA) spokesperson John Hollingsworth at the Indie Media Centre.

    The Star also notes that “The three [in the video] do not appear to have been arrested or charged with any offence.”

  • guest

    The Star story notes that the summit arrest numbers do not include these “arrests”, so either:
    1) The RCMP whisked them off to Gitmo, or
    2) They’re undercover officers and weren’t arrested.
    Number 2 seems more likely to me.
    Since this practice has now spread to Canada, you should read up on it as practiced south of the border. It is *routine* for numerous – dozens – of undercover officers to be present at any major pre-planned demonstrations. Officially, they’re there to ‘monitor’ the crowd. Unofficially, they’re there to provide the police an excuse to take whatever actions they want. No matter how peaceful you are, if the authorities want to describe your protest as violent, a couple of these officers will throw rocks and the police will charge in with tear gas.
    At the RNC convention in New York in 2004, there were many, many reports of rock-throwing protestors who were arrested along with others, then quietly taken away and released.
    Protest tactics have not adapted to deal with these tactics by the authorities. Probably the public needs a law passed to prohibit this police tactic.

  • guest

    Didn’t the same thing happen in 99 at the WTO riots in Seattle, too?

  • guest

    The enlarged photos show that not only did the three “protesters” all happen to choose the same brand of boots as the QPP, they also happened to choose the exact same model, with the exact same tread, out of the dozens (hundreds?) available.

  • guest

    As I was watching the video, something caught my eye: an officer is using a video camera to film the protestors while the “take-down” was happening less than a yard away!
    Also, you can watch one “protestor” converse with the riot police for over a minute, immediately before all three protestors passively walk into the police line to be handcuffed.
    I have posted screen captures to http://rtfa.net/2007/08/22/bizarre-toronto-police-behavior/.
    -farkinga

  • David Topping

    (It’s worth noting that this took place in Montobello, Quebec, not Toronto, Ontario––the Boing Boing article originally read that it was “Toronto” police, but that’s since been corrected.)

  • guest

    Great stuff, farkinga, but you called them “Toronto police” on your webpage.
    In fact, they are Quebec Provincial Police (QPP) or, in French, Sûreté du Québec.

  • guest

    Quebec != Toronto. It’s fixed – thanks for pointing that out. Doh!
    -Farkinga

  • guest

    photos of this on flickr:
    http://tinyurl.com/2qu5sr

  • guest

    closeup photo of one of these guys:
    http://tinyurl.com/2u7jm6

  • guest

    It is proper police procedure that once a masked suspect has been secured, the officer removes that mask immediately so the the suspect can be positively identified in court and the chain of evidence can begin. (Don’t ask me how I know this.)
    Yet the still photos show that at least one of the suspects continues to be masked by a kerchief throughout the “perp-walk” to the white van.

  • guest

    Right at 2:45, immediately after they start arresting the ‘protesters’, right when you think tension should be at its highest, the police camera man shuts his camera off. Ho hum.
    http://gurno.com/adam/images/camera.gif

  • guest

    ” If you demonstrate
    Against somebody we like
    I’ll slip on my wig
    And see if I can start a riot
    Transform you to an angry mob
    And all your leaders go to jail for my job ”
    Dead Kennedys, “I am the Owl” in “Plastic Surgery Disasters / Last screams of missing neighbours” .

  • guest

    So the evidence that these guys are undercover cops is that they use the same brand of boots? Well that’s rock-solid I guess.
    Maybe people are just being a bit paranoid here?

  • guest

    I remember allegations of police riot incitement in Genoa several years back. Similar story. An unknown group of ‘anarchists’ stir up trouble, seemingly in cahoots with the cops.
    That was the protest where one young man was shot dead by police.

  • elliot

    Wow, they don’t even respond to “You’re a cop.” Pretty amazing video. I hate police.

  • Greg J. Smith

    Wow.. that video is very unflattering for the police. I am speechless.

  • guest

    Note the body language of the tall one is completely at odds with what one would expect of an actual protester in that situation.

  • guest

    Besides what has been noted thus far in the conversation, there is one other thing that adds to the circumstantial evidence: one of the three is wearing a t-shirt for Radio X – a racist, right-wing Quebecois shock-jock channel. No lefty would be caught dead in one of those.

  • guest

    There’s a good article about New York police using this tactic here:
    http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=05/12/27/1444202
    The evidence is damning. The NYC Police Commissioner explicitly admits that they engage in these tactics – posing as demonstrators during a demonstration. So suggesting that Quebec is doing the same thing is not exactly far-fetched.
    NYPD has been fighting since 2004 to avoid releasing a large set of records about undercover officers and the 2004 GOP convention. The NY Times ran a whole series of articles about how the NYPD sent undercover officers thousands of miles to infiltrate activist groups prior to the convention.
    Suggestion for demonstrators: if you get arrested, say “I’m on the job”, and see if they let you go.

  • guest

    So now the RCMP and QPP are denying…well not quite sure exactly what they are denying but they better produce three arrested protesters or this story is going to keep rolling. I think the rock in hand is really the most damning bit of evidence because it shows to me the intent to incite and provoke.

  • guest

    Just a small thought (and please note that I am in no way defending the actions of the police, if — in fact — these people are the police)…
    Just because the boots are the same does not conclusively mean that they are police. I wear US military surplus boots all the time in the winter (good traction, comfortable once they’re broken in, hold up well in the winter environment, cheap, etc.), but I’m not a bit more affiliated with the US military than Che Gueverra.
    Let’s be a wee bit cautious before we take the collective leap…

  • guest

    The boots are the least of the circumstantial evidence. Refusing to take off the masks, backing up into the police line without getting pushed back, being arrested cautiously without being unmasked and the men not showing up on records. That’s whats fishy, the boots come in last, and just add to all that.

  • rek

    guest 34 is a cop!
    The boots aren’t the only reason people think they’re cops. Did you not watch the video? None of the protesters (the legitimate ones) pointed out their boots.
    I don’t recall if it’s CSIS or the RCMP (I think I’ve posted about it here before), but one of them keeps a database of everyone connected to protest groups and passes the information around to other ‘law and order’ organizations (not all in Canada). Adding more names to said database is likely, sometimes, the reason for provoking these riots.
    (When was the last time these Free Speech Zones were within line of sight or earshot of the bureaucrats and their corporate liaisons? Why issue a permit for such a gathering and then break it up?)
    The police and RCMP won’t admit they plant agents for the purpose of starting riots, so let’s say we get a bill banning it passed: all riots following it are automatically not the work of undercover agents. Protesting already has a bad image as it is.

  • Damon Kemp

    Hell, I think CTV had a report where they show a close up of one of these guys talking to the riot police. Possibly telling them, “Our covers blown, take us down”. And we see the police gently take these guys down.

  • rek

    Damon – That’s exactly what it looks like. If your intention was to throw rocks at cops, you don’t put yourself between the cops and other protesters and you definitely don’t nestle up to their shields to take refuge from the guys calling your bluff.

  • guest

    As others pointed out, the evidence of the boots came after.
    The reasons these gentlemen were accused of being police “agents provocateur” is that they came out of nowhere, were unknown to any of the other protesters, started barking orders authoritatively, dressed and acted wrong in general and tried to incite violence.
    Following the accusation, the evidence that they were in fact police includes the fact that instead of denying it they froze and looked at looked each and the riot police for clues about what to do next, one of them held a brief conversation with one of the riot police, all three of them sidled up to the police line and then easily slipped through, one after the other, they passively laid down to be handcuffed, the riot cop filming the incident turned his camera off instead of recording the “arrest”, at least one of them continued to be masked despite having been arrested, they strolled to the white police van without direction, and there is no record of their having been arrested or charged despite the fact that they apparently threatened police with rocks.
    Oh yeah, and their boots happened to be not just the same manufacturer, but the same model with the same tread pattern as the boots issued to the particular police force that “arrested” them. All three men’s boots, not just one’s.
    Your witness.

  • mickrussom

    When things like this happen, the entire police department needs to be fired and all members of this department need to be barred from law enforcement for life. These people are perverting their charter and are dangerous, terrorist agents of a fascist, totalitarian authoritarian government. This is a horrific perversion, and things like this do more to threaten freedom than any “9/11″ ever did.
    Disgusting.

  • guest

    FOR THOSE DENYING THESE ARE COPS BECAUSE THE ONLY EVIDENCE IS THE BOOTS:
    First of all, having the exact same brand, style, and tread pattern of shoes is not just unlikely – the odds are astronomical. Not just the same type of boot – *exactly* the same, as if they were issued at the same time. But fair enough, let’s look closer. Notice the short “protester” is wearing gloves also. You can clearly see that the gloves he’s wearing are the same model of gloves the uniformed riot police are wearing.
    Now we’ve got three instigators, uninvited, at a peaceful demonstration who are provoking the otherwise peaceful attendees. They are seen wearing the same boots as the police; same brand and style, and the same tread pattern. They’re also wearing the same brand and type of glove. They’re wearing masks to hide their identity.
    Combine all of this with the fact that one of the uniformed cops is filming the incident, until the three instigators get “arrested”. Why would he stop filming once the instigators are gone? He knew there was nothing more to see, since his own men were now “in custody”.
    On top of all of that, the three instigators were never arrested, even though they were taken away by the uniformed riot police. Guess why. No public record was created for the arrests, so nothing could be proven.
    I won’t bother to mention that the three instigators are well built, muscled men. Comparing them to the peaceful protesters is a joke. Go back again, and look how the peaceful people are either old or skinny.
    In this case, the evidence is overwhelming. These are cops. They were commanded to go to a peaceful rally and start a riot. They were literally paid to give the uniformed police a reason to assault innocent people.

  • guest

    The ‘protesters’ didn’t do anything. In fact, they remained calm and cool, while the union leader tried to whip the mob up into a frenzy. What the union did was not a ‘good’ tactic to diffuse the situation–there was no situation until accusations about belonging to the police began to fly. So what if the police props and makeup department got it wrong for the protest? They didn’t do anything except watch and then walk back to the line. Ironically, the ‘protesters’ are the real heroes in this situation.
    The worst thing about this whole fiasco is that it has boiled down to a stand-off between protesters and police–the union and the protesters in crying wolf have completely pushed aside the original and most compelling (hopefully) reason(s) why they were there. In my mind, I have come to think that the protesters are really just there to protest the presence of police–some people just get riled up when they see a perimeter of security and are compelled to break through it, perhaps hearkening back to the days of ‘Red Rover’ and playground bullies.
    In my mind, the union and the protesters are the ones creating a smoke-screen to hide the fact that there really wasn’t anything worth protesting about during this summit. In fact, as can be seen from this very incident, ‘professional’ protesters don’t care so much as what can be accomplished at these summits so much as trying to disrupt the whole process.
    In the end, the police will still use undercover cops (rightfully so) to monitor these volatile situations, but maybe they won’t being holding rocks or sticks when they do it next time. And the union just comes across sounding like the kind of self-serving tattle-tale every kid on every playground comes to hate.

  • guest

    @42:
    There was no “situation” until an alleged undercover officer approached the line with a rock in his hand. The thing that the officer did was pick up a rock and shove the union leader. That’s what’s wrong about your statement, “they didn’t do anything except watch and then walk back to the [police] line.” But you do accept that they were officers? Good – that’s progress.
    The issue could be characterized by the very existence of police props and makeup. If the actions of the police were to incite a riot, it bears closer scrutiny.
    If not for alleged police action, this relatively small protest would never have received any attention. So, let’s focus on the demonstration, itself, for a moment. I’ve derived this all, third-hand, from videos available at this link:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/CanadiansNanaimo
    The initial purpose of the demonstration seems to have been to deliver tens of thousands of petitions to the SPP conference floor, directly. The union delegation had been promised admission to the conference, where they would be heard. However, that permission was revoked by the RCMP an hour before their appointment time.
    So, the union had congregated at the SPP conference with the expectation of participation. Unexpectedly, they were stranded outside with a lineup of riot police, so an ad hoc demonstration was formed. Then, several masked instigators came forward, one with a rock, and began aggressing on one of the protest leaders and, arguably, on the riot police as well.
    I’m glad you feel the protest is worth highlighting. In my mind, the situatiion is relevant at multiple levels of the civic process, and raises interesting questions about democracy and authority.
    In my mind, I have come to think that the protesters actually sought participation in the democratic process, and failing that, they sought to engage in peaceful demonstration. In fact, the video evidence convincingly suggests that police may have attempted to draw innocent people into a riot.
    In the end, the police must always seek to increase the level of peace in the world. The police must ensure the safety of the people they protect. Next time the police go undercover, they must remember that by maintaining a passive role, they will avoid creating a volatile situation. This situation is embarrassing for the police, and deeply troubling for global justice.

  • guest

    guest42 – The worst thing about this fiasco is the standoff with police? Okay, but if that’s the “worst,” then you imply there must be lesser “worst things” too.
    List of “Worst Things about Fiasco” (WTF):
    WTF #1: created standoff with police
    WTF #2: union was denied access to political process
    WTF #3: “undercover agents” possibly attempt to entrap peaceful citizens
    WTF #4: North American political debate is conducted behind riot police perimeter
    WTF #5: apologist suggests calling instigators “the real heroes”
    WTF #6: “successful infiltration” would have resulted in injury to innocent people
    WTF #7: the one guy has a Corona beer bottle in his pocket. WTF?
    WTF #8: the Quebec police are possibly interfering with the public record regarding the “arrests”
    WTF #9: one “agent” wrote “and justice for all” on the back of his shirt. Ironic!
    …am I leaving something off the WTF list?

  • x_the_x

    I don’t think its reasonable not to take issue with the actions of the rock holding would-be rioters, whether they are police or not. I haven’t and can’t watch the video, but if it is described acurately here and in the various news reports, there seems to be at the very least a reasonable suspicion that the masked rioters were police officers. If indeed we take the next step, and assume that their purpose was to “draw” the protestors into some sort of violent action, this is certainly deplorable as the uniformed police response would almost certainly and unavoidably land on persons who did not participate in the resulting violent conflict.
    The more interesting question to me is what would have happened if certain of the unionists had followed the purportedly undercover police into taking violent action. While no one here has considered it directly, it seems to be implied in most of the comments here that such people should be exonerated by virtue of having been “drawn” in by the undercover agents. I don’t think that necessarily follows. Certainly, anyone who joined a violent effort should be prosecuted regardless. There is nothing illegitimate with police infiltrating groups who may have violent members to draw out those members – in fact, most would say this is effective preventative police work. In this case, however, I doubt that this objective could have been met without endangering the non-violent protesters and, as I have said above, it should be strongly condemned on this basis.

  • guest

    @45:
    In the video, one union leader argues with an undercover agent to drop the rock he is holding. Again: the undercover agent is holding a rock. Then, that same agent shoves the union leader, and fellow unionists step in to protect that union leader from the aggressive undercover agent.
    In my mind, the more interesting question is if the undercover agents, or more specifically their commanders, can possibly be exonerated for the actions they committed.
    To speculate, as you suggest, on the way in which justice would be meted out to those who were deceived… well, it takes as precedent that it’s acceptable for police to model violent behavior in the hope that a riot starts.
    You should probably read up on the definition of entrapment:
    http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=entrapment
    1. the luring by a law-enforcement agent of a person into committing a crime.
    Here’s a bonus definition for assault:
    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/assault
    2. Law. an unlawful physical attack upon another; an attempt or offer to do violence to another, with or without battery, as by holding a stone or club in a threatening manner.
    The question you pose would be answered if you watched the video, where it is clear that the demonstrators have a philosophical opposition to violent action. That’s what the yelling is about: it’s the union leader telling the undercover cop to stop being violent.
    It’s not a question of “if violence occurred.” The leaders anticipated your obvious question, the union held the ideological high ground, and the union was better than the police because of it. The union leaders acted effectively, by entering into the demonstration with a fundamental opposition to violent action.
    You assert a condition: that it is wrong for police to hurt non-violent protesters. I agree, but this concerns only the outcome, and does not discuss prevention. One way to prevent these non-violent people from being injured is for the undercover agents to not incite a riot.
    However, these agents appear to have attempted just that. You already agree that it would have been wrong for the agents to incite a riot, on the grounds that your assertion would be violated. You ultimately condemn the police action, and I agree that the action should be condemned.
    I completely disagree with your statement that “most would say this is effective preventative police work.” In any group where not all members are violent, your assertion of “protecting the non-violent” will always be violated. So should the police ever attempt to increase violence? As you suggested, only if increasing violence actually decreases violence – wait, what is your point again?
    It’s not a matter of “what if violence occurred,” because the demonstrators had answered that question even before they showed up. They kept the high ground, even though the police were aching for a battle.
    The question is: “is it okay for the police to induce non-violent people into behaving violently, especially when the desired police outcome is to violently suppress that which the police had induced?”
    I’m just sayin’… those “protesters” kindof behave like cops, and I have some questions about the basis for their actions.

  • x_the_x

    Thanks for your thoughtful reply.
    (1) Re: the dictionary defintion of entrapment. Its not helpful. The legal defintion of entrapment wouldn’t cover the situation. A more simplistic example is an undercover cop who offers to sell you drugs. If you accept, you can still be charged with trafficking. To be more apt, this is like an officer asking you to do drugs with him – same result. In either case (drugs or protesters), if they decide to join in the violence, they are responsible for their actions.
    (2) Re assualt on the union official. As I have said, I haven’t and can’t watch the video. I obviously was not justifying this.
    (3) Yes, the union resisted joining the call in this case. My scenario is the counterfactual – what would have been the result if they didn’t?
    (4) Re: effective police work – I merely said that the cops, by taking violent action against the uniformed officers, would have resulted in this case in non-violent persons bearing some of the response. This doesn’t mean it would happen in all circumstances. I think its effective and appropriate for undercover cops to counsel violent activity to identify those elements of the protest who are prone to violent (there are always such elements at a protest) and remove them as a preventative measure. I think the way it was approached in this instance is deplorable, and therefore clearly not effective police work. I was merely responding to the belief here that there was something illegitimate about the police impersonating protesters to do their police work. I think that belief is wrong.
    (5) The question is: “is it okay for the police to induce non-violent people into behaving violently, especially when the desired police outcome is to violently suppress that which the police had induced?”
    You beg the question. In this case, the group was non-violent. Avoiding the tautalogical, non-violent people cannot be “induced” into violence. It isn’t the correct question at all as a result.

  • guest

    It turns out the police in Quebec have admitted that these were their officers. See the press release:
    http://www.suretequebec.gouv.qc.ca/accueil/communiques/2007/20070823_02.html
    Note the statement “Les policiers ont été repérés par les manifestants au moment où ils ont refusé de lancer des projectiles.”
    In english thats: “The police officers were located by the demonstrators when they refused to launch projectiles.”
    Now that version of events is very clearly contradicted by the video, which shows demonstrators telling the officers to put the rock down, not launch it.

  • Emily P

    Here’s the CBC article about it.
    I particularly enjoy this:
    “At no time did the police of the Sûreté du Québec act as instigators or commit criminal acts,” the police force said in French in a news release. “It is not in the police force’s policies, nor in its strategies, to act in that manner.”

  • David Topping

    I’ve updated the article to note the latest news, thanks!

  • guest

    1) I think I have a more apt analogy: this is like a police officer assaulting a citizen (actually committing the crime) in the hopes that bystanders will join in the assault. This is like throwing the first stone in the hopes that the mob will join in, except only one metaphorical stone was ever thrown, and it was thrown by a cop. It’s not about a cop asking you to do drugs, it’s about the cop putting the needle in his vein and telling you to pull the trigger.
    2 & 3) I included “assault” because it might apply to your counter-factual scenario, in which riot police don’t merely stand with weapons drawn, waiting for protesters to take the bait.
    From the definition, it’s an “offer to do violence to another, with or without battery, as by holding a stone or club in a threatening manner.”
    I’m not discussing the riot cops in isolation, nor the undercover cops in isolation, but the Quebec Police as a whole. This trap is literally consistent with the definition. The Quebec Police were saying, “we will beat you up, if only you would act like us.”
    This is a point for discussion, but let’s be clear: the offer of violence was on the table, and the only one putting it there was the QPP.
    4) This is growing a little muddled, but the video probably addresses your point. It is plainly evident in the video that police were not attempting to remove violent elements from the protest. To the contrary, the police appear to have been the only violent element at the demonstration.
    5) It’s not a tautology – we just need better notation.
    Let’s assume that a person’s behavior B is compared to that person’s behavior at a later time, which we’ll call B’.
    Depending on the person’s personality P, this person behaves differently based on what kind of Situation they are in, which we’ll call S. For our purposes, someone’s personality doesn’t really change over time: once “anxious,” always “anxious.” For our purposes, personality is kindof like “how someone reacts to something.”
    This person’s behavior B is described as a function of their personality and the situation they are in:
    B = P(S)
    In a different situation S’, their behavior B’ is different:
    B’ = P(S’)
    Now let’s assume that in the midst of a non-violent protest, this person is non-violent.
    non-violent behavior = P(non-violent protest)
    At some point in the future, the person is subjected to a violent scene, in which people dressed as protesters aggressively approach leaders and riot police. As was the case in this video, the resulting behavior of the person is still non-violent.
    non-violent behavior = P(violent scene at protest)
    They “passed the test!” Hooray! You might argue that if any of the real protesters had personality problems, they might have gotten sucked in. No one got sucked in, so no one had a personality problem. Fine. Perhaps the union leaders innoculated their crowd against violence.
    …but what if? That, I believe is your hypothetical scenario, which would look like this:
    violent behavior = P(violent scene at protest)
    Okay. So we have two situations (violent and non-violent) and we have two resulting behaviors (violent and non-violent). Well, in this case, the person may have liked violence, or maybe made stupid decisions. In a justice sense, this would mean their “personality” is dangerous, which is mostly the basis for arresting people in the first place.
    We’re agreed that violent behavior is the one to avoid, but crowd behavior is not something police can directly control, is it? Hence the riot police, who are in place to react in the event that people decide to be violent.
    However, the police did have control of the situation. In this case, the police established a perimeter, so they were obviously in charge of the location. Additionally, the police directly influenced the violence level of the situation. This is because violent, undercover QPP agents had infiltrated the group with a plan to create a violent scene.
    Here, police behavior BP is the outcome. The way the Quebec Police react to situations is PP. We’ll call the situation that the police are reacting to SP. Conveniently, this is very similar to before:
    BP = PP(SP)
    We can only speculate as to why the Quebec Police put the undercover agents there, and why they instructed those agents to be violent, but we can say definitively that the resulting behavior was violent.
    BP = violent
    Either the police were influenced to incite violence or they weren’t. Again, we can only speculate as to what pressures the Quebec Police were subjected to. This it is shown by:
    violent behavior = PP(influenced)
    or
    violent behavior = PP(not influenced)
    So, if the Quebec Police are virtuous (that is, if the “police personality” is virtuous), then they must have been influenced to create violence. This could be the influence of “stupid tactics” or “bad decision making,” and still be an honest mistake. It’s honest if it’s just dumb influences.
    If the police are not virtuous, then they may or may not have been influenced to act the way they did.
    In either case, police behavior creates the situation for the protesters:
    S = BP
    We have a nested formula that ultimately generates the behavior of the protesters:
    B = P(PP(SP))
    The above formula expresses protester behavior as a function of the personality of the protester, the “personality” of the police force, and the situation the police force were in.
    Again, we know the protesters behaved non-violently. We know the police behaved violently, but that the personality of the protesters prevented them from being lured in. We can’t say for sure if the police have a virtuous personality, and we can’t say for sure if the police are in a “good situation.”
    Filling in some blanks, we have:
    non-violent protester behavior = protester personality ( police personality ( S ))
    So, I’ll ask my question again using the new framework. Is it right for the police to create a violent situation in order to test whether or not protesters are prone to behave violently in that situation?
    Taking it another step, if this situation is ultimately a personality test of the protesters, is this situation also a personality test of the police force?
    Taking it yet another step, if the police hadn’t created a violent situation, is there any likelihood that one would have spontaneously appeared?

  • Emily P

    My friend pointed out this interesting bit of the CBC article (last paragraph of “Police-issued boots identified fake protesters” section):
    “Police said the three were told to monitor protesters who were not peacefully demonstrating to prevent any violent incidents, but they were called out as undercover agents when they refused to throw objects.”
    That’s an interesting interpretation of what happened on the video.

  • guest

    Merci Pour votre beau travail!
    Thanks for that glimpse of truth.
    I think that the funniest thing is the CHOI RADIO-X T-Shirt that one of the agent provocateurs is donning… Fits like a Lefty in a Hummer.

  • x_the_x

    My point was merely that it is not legal entrapment. Nothing you have written changes that conclusion.

  • Damon Kemp

    Okay to settle whether this is entrapment or not, here’s the definition taken from my Black’s Law dictionary 2nd Pocket Edition.
    Entrapment 1. A law-enforcement officer’s or government agent’s inducement of a person to commit a crime, by means of fraud or undue persuasion, in an attempt to later bring a criminal prosecution against that person. 2. The affirmative defense of having been so induced. To establish entrapment (in most states), the defendant must show that he or she wold not have committed the crime but for the fraud or undue persuasion.
    So for those of you who think it’s legal for the police to induce violence you are wrong. This would hurt their police efforts more than anything else.

  • x_the_x

    The legal question would be whether there is fraud or undue persuasion present. Your conclusion is premature since you have not shown that either fraud or undue persuasion is present -you just assume that they are.
    In Canada (Black’s is a UK source), the leading authority states:
    The police may only present an opportunity to commit a particular crime to a person who arouses suspicion of being engaged in that particular criminal activity. An exception to this rule arises where the police undertake a bona fide investigation directed at an area or location where it is reasonably suspected that criminal activity is occurring; under those circumstances, the police may provide an opportunity to commit the particular offence to any person who is present in the area (R. v. Barnes, [1991] 1 S.C.R. 449 (S.C.C.)).
    Admittedly, my own conclusion that it is not entrapment was premature as well. From the above, it is clearly an arguable case for both sides. However, note that it only arises as a defence to a charge brought – so even if it was entrapment, it is not actionable here.

  • Damon Kemp

    No problem x. I know it’s not actionable because nothing happened and the protester’s decided to not resort to violence. LOL I know it’s hard to know what exactly is going on when the police have not really explained what they were doing.
    My question though is were there ever attacks by the protesters against the police while they were there? Were there criminal acts that the protesters engaged in while all of this was going on and what exactly were they? I don’t know if here in Canada we have laws akin to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA for short) like we have in the States. But I would be curious to see the paperwork related to the events over this timeframe.

  • guest

    I don’t agree with the assertion that “non-violent people” cannot be induced into violence, or that situations like this are comparable to undercover officers attempting to buy drugs. “Non-violent” is not a type of people, its a type of behavior, and people who otherwise would not do it can be convinced to do it.
    When police officers offer to buy drugs, one could only really sell those drugs if one was set up to do so. (IE you’ve got the drugs and you’ve got enough to sell). You can’t make a spur of the moment decision to become a drug dealer and suddenly have the ability fulfill the request from the police.
    On the other hand, if the police convince someone to go through the entire process of setting up shop specifically so that they can fulfill the police request, thats entrapment. There is no criminal activity if you remove the actions of the police from the situation.
    Being a violent protester is not like being a drug dealer. A protest rally is a very emotionally charged scene. Things can change rapidly. If undercover cops enter a rally and start throwing rocks at the uniformed officers, this is incitement to riot. It sends a message to everyone else present that they should start behaving violently. People who act because of that message have been entrapped.
    In regard to the Canadian law quoted above, its not clear at all to me that it would apply in this situation. It refers to people who are committing crimes in the present tense, not to people who might or might not commit crimes in the future. Were it to apply, it would need to read as follows:
    The police may only present an opportunity to commit a particular crime to a person who APPEARS WILLING TO engage in that particular criminal activity. An exception to this rule arises where the police undertake a bona fide investigation directed at an area or location where it is reasonably suspected that criminal activity MAY OCCUR IN THE FUTURE; under those circumstances, the police may provide an opportunity to commit the particular offence to any person who is present in the area (R. v. Barnes, [1991] 1 S.C.R. 449 (S.C.C.)).

  • x_the_x

    (1) Analogy. There comes a point in an argument when trading different versions of analogies becomes tiresome, and I think we are almost there. Suffice to to say, I don’t agree with yours. The analogy, in any event, is not the point. You and the other guest (unless you are the same guest) seem to think that the debate centres around the potential for individual personalities to turn violent or take violent action, and the role of the police in “inducing” this behaviour. However correct that might be (and, for what its worth, I think the analysis is overly deterministic and wrong), it is not how the law views offences, which is centred on acts committed or omitted. The question would be (according to our counterfactual/hypothetical/intellectual abstraction which has come to dominate this thread), if protester A committed an assualt, are they nevertheless absolved of criminal consequences of that action because they were entraped, namely, they were provided with the opportunity to commit the crime by a police officer and were unduly persuaded to do so. Their propensity for violence/non-violence/P(A)PP/personality defects/etc. ad nauseum is merely colour which helps us to answer the question – it is not the focus of the analysis.
    (2) Re: “A protest rally is a very emotionally charged scene. Things can change rapidly. If undercover cops enter a rally and start throwing rocks at the uniformed officers, this is incitement to riot. It sends a message to everyone else present that they should start behaving violently. People who act because of that message have been entrapped.”
    Your last sentence is presented as a legal conclusion when it is really just your opinion. And your “emotional scene” justification is, frankly, horseshit, and more to the point, not recognized by Canadian law, which takes a pretty strong stance on when violent activity is tolerated by an individual, and is limited to situations of self-defence and necessity, etc. As I have stated, the determination would have to be made whether the individual in question was unduly persuaded to join the assualt. If a cop walks around the corner with a rock and protester A, without much delay, throws a balaclava on and joins the front lines, I don’t think this meets the standard of undue persuasion.
    (3) Law. The amendments don’t make sense in light of entrapment being a defence to a crime committed. Under the counterfactual, we are assuming that a crime was committed. The question would be whether the exception applies, namely, whether there was a reasonable expectation of criminal activity occuring (I would argue, at the protest as a whole, absolutely, with regard to this specific group of people, likely not).

  • guest

    x.
    1. I am not the same guest.
    2. Nothing here is conclusive with regard to the law. This is not a court. We can, however, have a reasonable conversation about what we think the law means.
    I see your point with regard to a reasonable expectation of criminal activity occurring in the area. I’m still not convinced that the law you quoted applies in this situation.
    You have a rule that allows the police to provide an opportunity to commit a crime, and you are applying it to a situation where the police are encouraging people to commit a crime, and not merely presenting the opportunity.
    There is a substantial difference between suspecting that someone might be involved in a long term criminal enterprise that you might get them to transact with you and physically shoving someone because you suspect that they will “take the opportunity” to shove you back, thus demonstrating that they are “violent people” and not “non-violent people.”
    I’m quite sure that the later was not envisioned by the people who wrote the rule you quoted.
    3. Horseshit?! Do you dispute that it is possible in the middle of a protest rally to convince someone who would not otherwise commit an act of violence to do so? If you do not dispute that, then clearly it is possible for the police to do so. It is really that simple.
    4. I think perhaps we are having the wrong discussion. I’m not really interested in whether or not people who were so induced to riot have an affirmative defense in court. I’m more interested in whether or not it is legal for the police to incite a riot in the first place.
    Obviously, it is generally illegal to incite a riot in Canada. Obviously, its possible for the police to incite a riot, just as it is possible for anyone else to incite a riot. Obviously, rolling into the middle of a protest rally dressed like an anarchist with a rock in your hand and shoving an old man is an attempt to draw people into a fight.
    What is the difference between doing this as an officer of the law, and doing this as a guy who just genuinely wants to start a fight? The later would clearly be liable, even if he or she didn’t participate in the fight that ensued. Should the former not also be just as liable!?
    At some point you are creating what you claim to be there to prevent.

  • x_the_x

    (1) You have a rule that allows the police to provide an opportunity to commit a crime, and you are applying it to a situation where the police are encouraging people to commit a crime, and not merely presenting the opportunity.
    I don’t see the difference between the two scenarios, other than your choice of “encourage” over “present the opportunity”. The jurisprudence says that cops are allowed to “encourage” up to the point of “undue persuasion”. A narc selling drugs both “presents the opportunity” and “encourages”, and there is no difference in outcome in either case. I think you are making a distinction without a difference.
    (3) Horseshit?! Do you dispute that it is possible in the middle of a protest rally to convince someone who would not otherwise commit an act of violence to do so? If you do not dispute that, then clearly it is possible for the police to do so. It is really that simple.
    Again, we are at cross purposes. I may be otherwise unlikely to commit an act of violence, but if I kill my husband, I doubt the fact that I am otherwise unlikely to be violent carries any weight. As I said above, the law deals with actions or omissions, not whether they are typical or usual. If presented with the opportunity to commit a crime, and taking that opportunity, you are responsible for your actions except in limited situations (here, in the context of entrapment, if you were unduly persuaded). It is horseshit because outside of limited circs. of self-defence, necessity, entrapment, etc., the law holds people responsible for their actions and reference to the mood of those around you or their behaviour does not exonerate you for your actions.
    (4) I’m more interested in whether or not it is legal for the police to incite a riot in the first place.
    They didn’t incite a riot, which is evidenced most clearly from the lack of riot which followed whatever provocation was made. I agree that this is a central question, which is the whole reason I got involved in this discussion – whether they have a defence of entrapment is really just the opposite way of asking the question whether the police were justified in taking whatever action they took to provoke the crowd. The fact that no one responded to their call for violence suggests that they were not. Ironically, had the protesters been violent elements instead of middle-aged unionists, the conclusion would be opposite, because then the police would have had a “reasonable expectation that a crime was occuring”. In short, the whole thing looks bad because the behaviour of the police and the protesters was so apposite, as you rightly point out.
    (5) At some point you are creating what you claim to be there to prevent.
    This is the gravamen of a claim of entrapment – that you actually “caused” the crime to take place. I think the claim is horsehit in all but the most limited of circumstances. As I have stated, if the unionists would have followed the cops into the breech and reacted violently against those in uniform, I doubt they would have a defence of entrapment.

  • guest

    (1) “Undue persuasion” is exactly the difference between those two situations.
    (2) “If I kill my husband, I doubt the fact that I am otherwise unlikely to be violent carries any weight.”
    Actually it does. There is a difference between first degree and second degree murder, for example. If you planning for years to kill your husband the sentence you would receive would be far more severe than it would be if you stabbed him in the midst of a fight and regretted it later.
    The point is that it is possible to incite a riot. If you stand in a crowded theater and scream “fire” at the top of your lungs, people are going to run. They are running because you deluded them, and you bare some responsibility for their behavior. If you step into the middle of a protest and yell “lets smash the fn cops” and then you chuck a rock at the police line, some people will follow you, because you have sent a message that this is the right thing to do, and you have convinced them to join you.
    (4) No, they didn’t incite a riot. Going back to your murder analogy, if you tried to kill your husband, and failed, you’d still be guilty of a crime. They were there to provoke violence.
    “Whether they have a defence of entrapment is really just the opposite way of asking the question whether the police were justified in taking whatever action they took to provoke the crowd.”
    No, it is possible that both the police, and the people who followed the police could be at fault. The police for inciting a riot, and the rioters for rioting.
    (5) I suggest that the context in which a cop is shoving you in hopes of charging you with assault if you shove him back is precisely the sort of “limited circumstances” in which such a defense applies.

  • rek

    Now that is spin! Has the QPP not seen the video? Have none of the dailies contradicted their press release with what was seen in the video?
    The most disturbing thing about the entire situation is that, as guest 44 mentioned, political discourse that will determine the future for over 500 million people (in some way or another) is being done in a sterilized zone kept free of those 500 million by riot police.

  • Cowicide

    Wow, what complete scumbags. Picking up a rock and trying to sour a peaceful protest. I couldn’t be a cop like that, I’d shoot myself in the head first and do society a favor.