Friendly police response to protests Raises questions among Canadians

Police in Ottawa are poised for a crackdown on the protests that have immobilized the Canadian capital, but after three weeks of meager enforcement, images of police officers brawling with protesters has led some Canadians to question the gentle treatment of the protests.

In particular, many people on social media are comparing police action at the trucker protests with demonstrations of force seen at other recent protests, especially by protesters. native.

A social media video, taken by a protester from the passenger side of a vehicle on February 12, shows an Ontario provincial police officer speaking to a man and woman through a window open that he supports their cause. The provincial police force has opened an internal investigation into the officer, a spokesman confirmed to The Times.

At the border blockade in Coutts, Alberta, where The police seized a cache of weapons and made 13 arrests on Monday, a video that went viral online showed Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers hugging and shaking hands with protesters as they dispersed.

“That was amazing for me. I can’t think of a similar situation where the police would support protesters, especially in that context,” said Lesley Wood, an associate professor at York University, in Toronto, who studies movements. society in policing, said.

While she said the latest pandemic protests were not equivalent in composition and tactics to the Indigenous land protests or the Black Protests, racial differences , political leanings and trust in law enforcement can influence how police perceive crowds.

Groups such as race or ethnic minorities with historical reasons to distrust the police are more likely to be perceived by officers as uncooperative or threatening and more susceptible to an aggressive, military response , Professor Wood said. Groups that, like current protesters, include a large number of former police officers and members of military service are more likely to receive friendly treatment.

Many Canadians contrasted their treatment of the protests with last year’s heavy response to protest to protect the old forest in and around Fairy Creek on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers were filmed tearing off the protesters’ Covid masks before use them with pepper spray.

Howard Ramos, a political sociologist at the University of Western Ontario, says the differences are real, but Canadian police in general have been slow to respond to civil disobedience by any group. Howard Ramos, a political sociologist at the University of Western Ontario.

For example, the protests at Fairy Creek lasted about a year before police stepped up enforcement. And he notes that after the First Nation of Wet’suwet’en pipeline workers blocked from entering disputed landthe police did not mobilize to make an arrest for nearly two years after the warrant was issued, according to RCMP.

“But at the same time, there are clear cases where the level of empathy shown towards some of the protesters is not exceptional, at least,” said Professor Ramos.

Neil Boyd, a professor of criminology at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, cautions against treating Canadian police as a monolith, but said some police behavior at protests sends a message. negative to the public.

“This may not be an uprising,” he said, “but it is certainly an attack on the rule of law and an attack on democratic traditions.”

Ian Austen in Ottawa contributed reporting. Friendly police response to protests Raises questions among Canadians

Fry Electronics Team

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