Carleton criminology department cuts ties with police, prisons

Written by: Stu Mills, CBC, on Aug 12, 2020

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/carleton-criminology-police-ottawa-1.5683717

Carleton University’s Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice (ICCJ) is ending all student internships with police forces and prisons next year.

In a statement released earlier this week, the ICCJ said the move is part of an effort to reform the department in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Faculty at the ICCJ take these calls to action seriously,” according to the statement.

Typically, some 80 third-year year criminology students are given internships with Ottawa police, the RCMP, Correctional Service Canada and the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre.

Professor Jeffrey Monaghan said those institutions have done too little to acknowledge systemic racism and work to eliminate “anti-Black and anti-Indigenous sentiments, practices and policies.”

“They’ve given lip service to reform, and that reform hasn’t happened,” said Monaghan.

Some 80 third-year students from Carleton University’s Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice take part in internships with the Ottawa Police Service, RCMP, Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre and other institutions each year. That will end in 2021. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

“I think we’re at a moment that we can reflect on that promise, and I think we can say that it’s been largely a failure,” he said, pointing out recent remarks from RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki and her initial denial of the existence of systemic racism in Canadian policing as a turning point.

“We’re saying that action has to be made. We can’t maintain these relationships until we see action and we’re waiting to see that action,” Monaghan said.

Placements began in 1973

The internships have been a part of Carleton’s criminology program since 1973. Placements with police and correctional institutions make up about five to eight per cent of all placements.

Monaghan said that will come to an end in 2021 as the department rethinks how to address systemic racism and colonialism.

“The status quo is no longer an acceptable position to stay in,” he said.

Monaghan acknowledged the potential positive role that young people, energized by the Black Lives Matter movement, might have in changing the culture of police agencies during their work placements, but he said it was unrealistic to continue to believe that meaningful change would come from within those institutions.

He also rejected the view that the academic department was abandoning a chance to build important ties with Ottawa police, now under the command of a man of colour who has promised reform.

“The door is still open. We’re still engaged in all kinds of different ways,” Monaghan said.

Carleton’s ICCJ will create a new curriculum with anti-racism and an acknowledgement of colonialism at its centre.

Two new $1,000 student bursaries for Black, Indigenous and other racialized students working in criminology will be available this year. Two more bursaries of the same amount are being earmarked for students working in social justice initiatives that address racism and colonialism in the criminal justice system. 

‘The door is still open. We’re still engaged in all kinds of different ways,” said Carleton criminology professor Jeffrey Monaghan. (Submitted)

“I can definitely see how ending the placements with those institutions could be a form of that protest”, said 4th-year student Chanel Hepworth. “On the other hand … front-line involvement in these sectors by university students could assist with reform.”

Though she completed placements last year with law firms, she doubted students working with police or correctional institutions would have much influence or success changing the institutional culture there. Hepworth said she supports the department’s decision.

Ottawa police did not respond in time for publication.

Mandela, Floyd, apartheid, uprisings, and unrest.

Transformational leadership is the ability of a leader to guide nations and organizations alike, focusing on a clear vision, motivation, being a change agent, and building trust. These are the cornerstones of great leadership. One such leader that comes to mind is former President of South Africa, the late, Nelson “Rolihlahla” Mandela. At a time in history when the worse form of segregation, codified into a statutory system called Apartheid, was taken place, Mandela emerged as the first-ever elected President. He dismantled the legacy of the apartheid regime, institutionalized racism, poverty and inequality. He brought diversity into government, established the truth and reconciliation commission to foster racial reconciliation, and reestablished the balance of power for land owners. What did it take for the nation’s heart transformation? It took time, people’s lives, and 27 years of imprisonment of the greatest leader of all time. 

Has history taught us anything? We read books about our famous heroes that marched for justice and equality, for the right to vote, and to have equal and fair wages, thinking that these are problems of the past: We are free now. In the 1930s, our honoured Nelson Mandela was also free. Free to get an excellent legal education, free to marry and to become the next chief. Yet, when the 22-year-old ran away to south Johannesburg, now called Soweto, he saw for the first time what the lives of native Africans were like: Confined in overcrowded shantytowns or slums, where it was insanitary, no electricity, no telephones, and poor road conditions. Police visited these slums continuously in search for vagrants. This is where Nelson’s political education began, yes, this is where the vision was birthed (BENSON, M., 1994, Nelson Mandela:The Man and the Movement, Penguin). 

May Day 1950 was when the workforce stayed home. Protesters called for the removal of the colour bar in parliament, in education, in industry and in the administration. This became the turning point in Mandela’s life because he saw first-hand the ruthlessness of the police, as well as being deeply impressed by the support African workers and Indians gave to the May Day call. “Chiefs and followers, leaders of political associations, ministers, teachers, journalists and lawyers came together from all parts of South Africa and overcame division of tribes and languages, rural and urban backgrounds” (BENSON,1994).

70 years later, May 25, 2020, an African-American was killed because a police officer knelt on his neck for over eight minutes in Minneapolis, USA. Similar ruthless police practices sparked worldwide protest, every continent, language, and government came together to protest by kneeling for change. “The fight against all forms of racism and racial discrimination remains a priority for us,” said Michael Ungern-Sternberg, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Germany to the United Nations Office at Geneva. “The past weeks, many people around the world raised their voices and took to the streets to send a clear signal that racism and excessive use of force by law enforcement officials against minority populations cannot (any) longer be accepted.” Again, has history taught us anything?

See my blog: Police Abusive Use of Force: Yatim and Floyd Case

Uprisings and protests were happening in the 1950s just as they are happening now in 2020. As the unrest of protesters and anti-apartheid leaders spread and became more effective and militarized, state organizations responded with repression and violence (BENSON, 1994). The government banned all opposition, and police officers enforced curfews, causing many anti-apartheid leaders to be imprisoned, including Mandela. Similarly, the United States chose to respond to the nationwide demonstrations after police in Minneapolis killed African American George Floyd, in a manner that undermined our fundamental rights “…the right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly,” said Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, the UN Special Rapporteur. We are watching history play over again, the police brutality and the governments adverse response to the protests.

In 1951, Mandela chose to become a change agent for his nation and his people. He was a lawyer, a founding member of the Youth League of the African National Congress (ANC), and appointed as volunteer-in-chief of the defiance campaign. “This campaign was designed to organize a large-scale resistance movement and work toward the repeal of discriminatory legislation” (JAMES, R., 2011, Nelson Mandela, Great Neck Publishing, Database: MasterFILE Premier). Mandela was arrested because he was fighting for his nation’s heart transformation. His prosecution for treason, and a lengthy prison sentence did only one thing; it bolstered Mandela’s vision for justice and equality. It was behind bars, that the transformational leader emerged. Upon his release, Mandela built the South African civil rights movement; and in 1991, became the president of the ANC, the rest is history: South Africa held its first-ever free elections on April 27, 1994. With majority of the votes given to ANC, Mandela was elected president. It was victory, not just for one race, but for an entire nation.

The death of Floyd has stirred our nation’s heart in a profound way. And it is the spirit of 46-year-old Floyd that became the transformational leader that the world desperately needed to see the vision. So, transformation requires time, people’s lives, and imprisonment. Sometimes history has to be repeated for our nations to take a stand for the vision that our beloved heroes, like Mandela stood for.

Police Abusive Use of Force: Yatim and Floyd Case

Who Remembers the death of Mr. Sammy Yatim? In the midst of a global pandemic and the most recent police brutality of Mr. George Floyd, it’s hard not to sit and think. Yatim, died of a similar extreme use of force by police officer, Mr. James Forcillo in July 2013. Yatim was a distressed 18-year-old in an empty Toronto streetcar, wielding a knife who was shot 9 times. Three years later, on July 2016, Forcillo was sentenced for attempted murder. This was the first time a Canadian police officer was convicted for brutal use of force, leading to death. Between 2013 and 2020, many abuse of police power had transpired, but there are some that are more sensational than others. The question is, how is our nation dealing with this issue?

Most recently, a Black man was killed by the abuse of police power in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25, 2020. Floyd, a 46-year old, father of two children, the youngest is 6 years old, moved to Minnesota from Houston, Texas to better his life. Police Officer, Mr. Derek Chauvin executed a brutal arrest procedure, by kneeling in the neck of Floyd, leading to his death. As a past Correction Officer for Young Offenders, I had been trained on the use of force techniques, and to be aware of asphyxiation. When I watched the news clip of Officer Chauvin resting his knee on Floyd’s neck, that was the first thing that came to mind. With so much adrenaline going through Floyd’s body during the arrest, he was being deprived of oxygen. Asphyxiation is worse for anyone who suffers from other illnesses, including mental health. In this case, Floyd may have been under the influence (I’m no doctor). That said, why didn’t Officer Chauvin know this?  

Here we go again. The question of police officers’ fatal use of force is up for discussion. What do we, as a nation, do about it? The Yatim family are most likely sitting in their living room, watching the news, and recalling the death of their son. Was a 6-year prison sentence enough to deter wrongful police conduct? As of January 17, 2020, Forcillo is out on parole, having served almost all of his sentence on house arrest with his loved ones. Is that fair for the Yatim’s family? Floyd’s children and most recently, a grandchild will be growing up the rest of their lives without a father and a grandfather. What will Officer Chauvin’s sentence be? Whatever it will be, it won’t be enough to wash out a system ridden with racial practices, and abuse of police power. 

Justice Edward Then, the Toronto judge in Yatim’s case stated, “Officers should only be drawing and using their firearms when they are faced with an imminent, potentially mortal threat.” The judge asked, rhetorically, “…is police training overemphasizing use of force, fatal and otherwise, in situations where the average citizen, lacking the benefit of police training, would see that force is not called for?” When an average citizen looked to see Floyd’s lifeless body on the ground, and had to ask the Officers to check the pulse, we have to sit and think. If this were another race, would Officer Chauvin have acted with such brutality?

No sentence given by the Courts of Justice is enough for crimes against police officers who fatally abuse their power against citizens, whom they are called to serve and protect. My recommendations are these: (1) Drastic review of legislations and policies are needed in our societies, pertaining to the police use of power by a designated Taskforce. (2) The police training programs ought to be seriously re-evaluated in every state. (3) A police audit should be conducted on Police forces nation wide. (4) Criminologists should be given the go-ahead to conduct research on racial profiling within the Force. (5) An apology to the families should be personally done by the chief of police every time a loved one is taken by the hands of police officers, including paying their respects at funerals. (6) Finally, the state of Minnesota ought to recognize May 25 annually by a police officers’ march.

These recommendations are a few steps to be taken to make lasting change in our nations’ Justice systems. If not, we will continue to forget martyrs like Yatim and Floyd who had to die by the hands of a police officer’s brutal use of force, leading to their deaths. Let’s not allow it to happen again.      

Why did the Toronto Police kill Sammy Yatim?

I know I’m generally talking about the positives of Canada but I thought this news that’s circulating about Sammy Yatim’s death was worthy to be mentioned.

I am not astonished one bit because I truly believe the Toronto Police do this all the time, intentionally hurt and maim people- and I worry for young teenage boys the most. I know teens cause trouble, but the Police don’t seem to think that these “suspects” or “criminals” are actually people too.

They say they “serve and protect” and yes I believe the good cops do this, but I truly believe you have some racist, ungodly, and inhumane police officers out there that if they get the chance will send anybody’s child to the grave. So this Sammy case is simply one of their most recent case that happen to make the news, because someone had a chance to video tape. What about the ones that aren’t caught on camera? It’s too bad we don’t have a real democracy where the mass’ opinions mattered and we were able to easily change judges and governments to do what we want done. Where is Justice when you did her?