I really don’t care for the Toronto Star. I consider its news coverage, analysis and factual accuracy to be weak. Nonetheless every so often I have to commend them for their dogged pursuit of a story. The Adam Nobody case is an example of how the combined persistence of a small number of citizens and the Star may have actually produced some results.
I am also not one to knock the police who for the most part are professional in carrying out their duties in protecting the public. However, like many citizens, my respect and confidence in the Toronto Police Services was badly shaken over the weekend of June 25-7 and during the six months that followed. On June 25th the downtown core of Toronto was almost a war zone as thousands of G20 protesters gathered and among them, a small number of violent anarchists. The destruction that followed was unprecedented in Toronto as these hooligans damaged whatever they could get their hands on while to police largely stood back and watched. The next day saw an equally violent response by the police who rounded up violent protesters where they could but at the same time randomly arrested innocent residents and visitors who just happened to have been downtown at the time. As in the case of Adam Nobody, the takedowns were violent.
In the weeks that followed the G20 Summit, police were able to identify and charge violent protesters using videos and photographs taken over that weekend. However, the same approach did not lead to one single police officer being identified or charged for using excessive force. Complaints from citizens went nowhere because police officers chose to protect their colleagues instead of their reputations.
Not until the Toronto Star using photographs and videos provided by the public directly pointed at an unidentified officer beating Mr. Nobody did they finally act. I’m sure members of the public who knew Constable Babak Andalib-Goortani would have eventually gone to the paper, so the Constable was finally identified and charged. All through this process there was a lack of cooperation. Twelve officers at the scene of the beating were unable to identify anyone involved in the takedown.
Police Chief Bill Blair only made matters worse by accusing Mr. Nobody of being armed and violent and accusing the original video of being tampered. He was later forced to apologize for these comments. For the most part he has either been seen defending the police force or keeping mum. His credibility with the public
I’m not sure what will become of these charges and whether any other officer will be held accountable for what happened that weekend. Maybe Andalib-Goortani will be the ‘fall guy’ who takes the hit for those involved. But I do know that the loss of trust is not something that can easily be restored.