CBC’s Fifth Estate documentary, in my opinion, was largely biased towards the perspectives of the innocent people that were victimized by police during the G20. It fails to show the actual story of the people who needed to be controlled and charged and the story behind the orders that the police were given.
Due to the fact that there were so many police officers on hand for this event; police authority was abused and there was a diffusion of responsibility. Police went as far as taking off their name tags without legitimate means to do so, thereby counteracting the new visibility of policing, which decreases accountability. The police didn’t care to distinguish between the peace protestors and actual rioters and used excessive force in situations that was not required. “Excessive force… involve[s] the misuse of authority and cover[s] a wide range of forms of unjustified force” (Dean, Bell & Lauchs, p. 208). For example, why would a man with a disability be seen as harmful and need to be aggressively handled? The police officers didn’t seem to exercise any of their own judgement.
Police did not acknowledge the peace protestors and innocent people in the streets, thereby emphasizing the title of the documentary “Should’ve stayed at Home.” This perpetuates the blame on the public and negates their constitutional rights and freedoms. Furthermore, it justifies the police officers course of action during the G20 event.
Public order policing is a branch of policing that is in need of much development. The documentary continuously made this obvious with the depictions of several innocent people that were victim to police brutality. Many of the issues arising come from the approach police take to deal with situations of crowd and riot control. In my opinion the biggest issue that needs to be addressed is that of police discretion. The police need to be held accountable for their actions and should be reprimanded for acts such as taking off their name tags making them anonymous. To be better prepared, I think supervision and direction should be greatly increased when dealing with police control, especially public order policing.
The documentary made no reference to The Public Works Protection Act, a law passed last minute that was not made public. This law gave the police the power to search anyone who was present at the riot. As discussed in ‘Journal of Prisoners on Prisons’, “a combination of secrecy and misinformation led to widespread confusion about the scope of expanded police powers of search and seizure under a hastily-past amendment to the WWII-era Public Works Protections Act” (p. 8). In my opinion, the documentary failed to capture a realistic view of how and why the policing events during the G20 transpired.
Dean, G., P. Bell, and M. Lauchs (2010). Conceptual framework for managing knowledge of police deviance. Policing
and Society, 20(2), pp. 204-222.
Larsen, M., and J. Piché (2011). “A Week in June 2010”, Journal of Prisoners on Prisons 20(2), pp. 2-14.