407 etr

Morning Brew: independent review into G20 policing, an amputee and a hero tell their G20 stories, Bloor Street Viaduct suicide barrier (sort of) effective, 407 ETR boasts record volume, Lawrence Heights makeover passes key council vote

A public meeting of the Toronto Police Services Board, the civilian body that oversees the police, turned into a shouting match when concerned members of the public showed up with the intention of having their say. The aim of the meeting, however, was to announce the calling of an arms-length "independent review" of the actions of Toronto police during the G20 summit, but many observers (including celebrated author Margaret Atwood) feel that this falls short of what is required (see video below). I'd be very surprised if the independent review, to be completed within 12 weeks, doesn't find that a full public inquiry is warranted. Much of what went wrong involved police and security personnel from forces other than Toronto Police Services (including York region officer 815 who on camera says "There's no civil rights here in this area. How many times do you need to be told that?" when challenged about our Charter rights).

Disturbing allegations of police misconduct and personal stories revealing civic shame continue to trickle into the public eye. A 57-year old man from the Niagara region, who also happens to be an amputee, endured quite the disturbing ordeal during the G20 and has been written about in a local paper:

"Accusing him of resisting arrest, they pulled his walking sticks away from him, tied his hands behind his back and ripped off his prosthetic leg. Then they told him to get up and hop, and when he said he couldn't, they dragged him across the pavement, tearing skin off his elbows, with his hands still tied behind his back. His glasses were knocked off as they continued to accuse him of resisting arrest and of being a 'spitter,' something he said he did not do."

And a Toronto man, who 20 years ago received a plaque from Toronto police for bravery in his role in stopping a sexual assault, went to police headquarters to return his award in protest.

The "suicide barrier" on the Bloor Street Viaduct may have reduced to zero the number of people who jump to their deaths at that location, but stats show that it hasn't reduced overall suicide jumps in the region. People find another location to do the terrible deed, apparently. I wonder if the same would be true of suicide barriers on TTC subway platforms?

The 407 toll highway experienced a record-breaking day on June 30th, recording a whopping 454,275 trips. It's a shame the road, which was originally built by the province of Ontario, was leased for 99-years for $3 billion to a private company and isn't part of our revenue stream or publicly. Estimates peg its value at over $10 billion now, and with the 401 now being a nightmare pretty much every day, this really hurts. Thank austerity and Mike Harris.

A major plan to overhaul an isolated, poverty-stricken area dominated by public housing at Lawrence Heights passed a key vote in city council yesterday. The costly revitalization project would see more housing built, and schools and retail introduced to the area - a plan that sounds like it would be of benefit to everyone in the community. Mayoral candidate Rob Ford, on the other hand, doesn't think too highly of the plan at all, citing lack of funding and lack of consultation with nearby residents.

Photo by the author.

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