“Fuck the police.”
Gurratan Singh, the NDP’s candidate in Brampton-East is in hot water for carrying a sign with that colourful statement during a 2006 protest.
The lawyer and activist (and brother of federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh) has unequivocally apologized, stating that his views have changed and he no longer believes in such a sentiment.
It’s hard not to have some sympathy for Singh. After all, who wants to be berated for the political views they held when they were a teenager? (In 2006, I was devouring the novels of Ayn Rand, so 18-year-old me would have some serious explaining to do).
The Progressive Conservatives are using the comment to try to paint the NDP as anti-police radicals.
But the irony of it all is that it was only four years ago that Doug Ford, the PC leader, was essentially saying the same thing to then-Toronto police chief Bill Blair during his brother’s crack video controversy. Ford eventually apologized, under threat of a libel suit. But it goes to show that like so many pro-police conservatives, Ford is all for celebrating the men and women in uniform until it’s his family that is being scrutinized and surveilled.
Now that he’s running for premier, Ford has returned to being a champion of over-policing. He’s in favour of carding. He wants to bring back the Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy, better known as TAVIS, that devastated marginalized communities for over a decade. The Progressive Conservatives even want to roll back the milquetoast policing reforms that the Liberal government introduced last year.
In the Toronto Sun article that broke the news of Singh’s protest sign, former Toronto police chief Julian Fantino is quoted at length.
“It’s another example of a cop hater in pursuit of a soft landing at Queen’s Park — where he doesn’t belong!” Fantino said.
I understand why some people would be offended by a blunt statement like “fuck the police.” Police officers often have a difficult job and most are good people. Saying “fuck the police” makes it sounds like you hate each and every one, even though what people are usually attacking is the system of policing, and not individual officers.
In order to understand why some people might feel it necessary to throw expletives at the cops, we need to look at the long, sordid career of someone like Fantino, who has gotten a soft landing everywhere he’s ended up.
In 1991, when Fantino was superintendent of the Toronto police’s detective services, he ordered the surveillance of criminal defence lawyer Peter Maloney for spurious, homophobic reasons. The investigation ended up encompassing two members of the civilian board that oversees the police, a shocking bit of rogue policing.
When he moved onto leading the London, Ontario, police, Fantino oversaw an anti-gay witch hunt into an alleged child porn ring that didn’t actually exist. When he returned to the Toronto police he oversaw more anti-gay raids and was accused of contributing to an innocent man’s suicide.
At the OPP, he illegally wiretapped Indigenous activists and was caught telling one man that he would do everything in his power to “destroy your reputation.” As veteran affairs minister, he was maybe the single worst minister in the Conservative cabinet. Today, the man who once compared cannabis to murder is profiting handsomely from its legalization.
It’s the unstoppable march of men like Fantino, who make regular people throw up their hands and yell “fuck the police.”
And Ford, like Fantino (who Don Cherry famously compared to his brother Rob) is a hypocrite who will advocate for dangerous policing measures, unless it affects him personally.
So while I don’t agree with Gurratan Singh’s overly broad riposte from 2006, here’s what I will say:
Fuck a system of policing that allows men like Fantino to ride roughshod over everyday people without any consequences.
Fuck the dangerous hypocrisy of politicians like Ford who rely on the votes of marginalized communities, but would happily turn their neighbourhoods into occupation zones.
Fuck homophobic police. Fuck racist police.
And unless we do something to stop them, they will continue to fuck with all of us.