Dual protests are set for tomorrow afternoon in Vancouver and Toronto in an effort to maintain media awareness of the misuse of force by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that led to the death of Robert Dziekanski, captured on video by a witness. The video, since viewed (in its various incarnations) by millions of people, documents a confused and clearly agitated Dziekanski sweating and pacing until a fatal confrontation with four RCMP officers killed the 40-year-old Polish immigrant. This week, the government of British Columbia has announced a public inquiry to investigate Dziekanski’s death, “and rightly so,” writes the editorial board in this week’s Eye Weekly: “Perhaps the inquiry’s report can communicate some simple steps to prevent this sort of tragedy from ever happening again, and communicate to the RCMP that it is their job to protect people and expose lies, not to kill people and invent cover stories to protect themselves.”
On November 21, a 45-year-old man in Nova Scotia died while in police custody after being zapped. It was the third death in five weeks linked to the use of Taser stun guns by police. The recent spree of fatalities has prompted an eighth concurrent investigation into policies and procedures regarding Taser stun gun use by police officers. Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day has ordered a review of the use of Tasers in Canada and asked Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to explain how Dziekanski was able to get through customs and was left alone in a secure area for nearly 10 hours. A report is expected to be made available to the public by next week.
Queen’s Park will be the venue for the protest tomorrow at noon, and will include speeches by a long list of politicians and activists. The Facebook group, Toronto Protest: Protesting the use of Excessive force on Robert Dziekanski, already has almost 1000 members, and planners are still looking for volunteers to assist with ground organization, decorations, and banner making. Interested parties can send an email to the protest committee co-chair Mike Mlynarczyk.