Many in Toronto
are up in arms after Sammy Yatim, 18, was allegedly shot 9 times and then tasered Saturday morning while inside a Toronto Transit Commission streetcar. The vehicle was stopped on a busy downtown street near a popular park. The incident was captured by witnesses and posted to You Tube.
From all outward
appearances it appears that excessive force was used. Yatim was shot 9 times by one police officer and then laying in his blood on the streetcar tasered. The officer in question has already been suspended, an action that is not standard protocol. One has to wonder why mental health intervention was not called into play to intervene the situation with this young man.
At this time the Special Investigations Unit is investigating the incident and the police are not allowed to comment on what took place.
On Monday Chief Bill Blair addressed the media and made it clear that he, like many others in the city, has some serious questions as to what took place.
There are some in the city and globally that are putting all police officers at fault for Saturday's action. Tonight a vigil
is taking place with a march from Dundas Square that will end at Toronto Police's 14 Division. At Trinity Bellwoods Park messages were written in chalk on the cement and candles were lit to remember young Sammy Yatim. The people that remain at the park mainly are present to support the family. The family expressed that they are not against the police.
Others marched on to 14 Division where a list of names was called out, claiming that the police were responsible for their deaths. Protesters called the police pigs and thugs. The police had no expressions on their face as they held the crowd back behind a line of police bikes.
There is another protest planned for August 13 to protest police brutality.
In the wake of the untimely death of Yatim we need to remember that only one officer fired his gun. There were many more officers at the scene during that time, most of which who did not have their guns drawn.
There is no question that Toronto Police have some brutal police that have given the force a bad name. Certain individuals in Toronto appear to be targeted by these officers including minorities, young men, the mentally ill and the homeless.
Earlier this year Chief Blair addressed the issue, saying that he and his department were working on weeding out officers that are involved in this type of behaviour.
As a journalist I have seen some Toronto officers that have been rough with the homeless. In one incident last summer a homeless man was quite ill, unconscious and needed medical attention. An officer was trying to get the man to move from his location, without considering the man's health. After identifying myself as a journalist that would be covering what followed the officer sought medical care for the man. I left the scene wondering what would have happened if I had not been there.
On the other hand I have seen some of the most devoted police officers that have a true calling to help others. These men and woman give of themselves both on the clock and off. During their off-hours, they volunteer and mentor youth, help the elderly and more. I have seen the community come together to support a beloved officer (who happens to be part of 14 Division) who was injured on his off hours. I have spoken to officers that have tears of pride in their eyes when one of 'their kids' has overcome all the odds and soared. These men and women are without a doubt in as much shock as the rest of the city after hearing what happened on Saturday morning.
There are many sides to this issue and it is not cut and dry. Not every police officer is a brutal bully, as some of the protesters are chanting. Let's hope that Toronto remembers this while the case is being investigated.