police brutality

To Serve and Protect?

An unpublished letter to the Toronto Star written by Susan E. Helwig after witnessing the police use excessive force.



To Serve and Protect:

How do Toronto’s finest do their job?

Around 5 p.m., on August 22, 2010, police officers were called to deal with a man who collapsed on the floor of the southbound Spadina streetcar.

The man was breathing, in a deep sleep, possibly affected by alcohol or a medical problem.

Three officers propped him up, tried to wake him, asked how much he had drunk and whether he was diabetic. The man seemed to be Chinese and may not have understood.

One officer told him: We’re the police, we’re here to help.

Then, they carried him stumbling off the streetcar.

Three or four police surrounded the man outside the streetcar, which was stopped beside a shelter.

There was shouting, and I heard a bang.

The next thing I saw was the man, in handcuffs, bleeding at the mouth.

Police were responsible for his injuries.

Whom were they serving?

Whom were they protecting?

Susan E. Helwig




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