women, the police and international days

ok, i've re-sent this blog post twice through the mail and have waited over three weeks for it to arrive. it still hasn't arrived. here it is, dictated over the phone.

this post is going to be a bit of a downer, so i wrote myself a reminder to start it on a happy note. now what can i write about that's happy? i wondered, and immediately a whole lot of things came to mind – which made me realize that i am obviously doing pretty well. so while there are some honourable mentions- the bird making a nest above the light in the yard, the amazing book i just finished, the great visits i've had and have been looking forward to – the best thing of all is that two full months into my sentence i'm still feeling quite positive about this whole situation. In the words of a friend who knows what it's like - i appear to be winning at jail.

and now on to the important things.

thursday march 8th was International Women's Day. the newspaper was full of articles about how women are/aren't/could be doing better at gaining access to the corporate/government halls of power in canada, and how various charitable and/or development programs are helping to empower women in the majority world. without even going into the criticisms (of which there are many) of these approaches to gender equality, i doubt that they mean much to the women i've met here over the past two months. to illustrate, here are a few things that have been shared with me:

I shouldn't be here, I need to be in a treatment centre. I didn't even do anything but to go through drug diversion court you have to plead guilty. Anyway there is nobody to bail me out and i can't sit here for months waiting for trial. It's fucked – the paedophiles get bail while the people they made into addicts have to sit in here.”

The cops just brought me in because they hate my boyfriend and think that i will rat him out. They don't even have anything on me. That's what they do.” i hear this a lot.

“When you're poor, especially if you are struggling with drugs, there is nowhere you can go for help because as soon as you ask for help children's aid gets called in. We're scared to leave our kids when all we need is a little help.”

“They really need to fix these domestic assault laws. The guys are free to go around beating the shit out of whoever they want, and the women get stuck here and can't get out because they defended themselves.” i hear this a lot too, and i see the bruises and black eyes.

and speaking of bruises and black eyes, thurs. march 15th was the International Day Against Police Brutality. i asked an inmate who once told me a horrifying story, while we were doing laps of the range, if she would be interested in sharing it with you. she said yes and wrote this next part.

Cruelty At It's Best

who can we trust if we can't trust our own police?

Growing up as a little girl my parents always told me “if you are ever in trouble go to the police. They are there to help you.” Are they really? Why is it when I got in trouble and my charges came about, Peel Police officers thought it was okay to slap me in my head, push me around and call me many horrible names while they had me in a room questioning me?

On March 15th, ironically, three years ago Peel Police officers pulled over a taxi cab that just so happened to have the father of my son, 29 year old Jermaine Scott, in the back seat bleeding from two knife wounds and on his way to the hospital. They proceeded to yank him out of the taxi where his best friend was applying pressure to the wound, and to leave him on the side of the road to bleed to death. The officers refused to help him, saying they did not have any gloves. They would not allow his friend to continue to apply pressure because they felt it was more important to question them and wait on an ambulance than to help a dying man or let him proceed on to the hospital in the taxi. I often wonder, if Jermaine were white would he have gotten the same treatment? I believe that because he was known to Mississauga police they looked at it as one less bad nigger on the street.

My twelve year old son lost his daddy on that day, all because these men who are supposed to serve and protect us, decided it was better to let a man lie there to bleed out on the side walk and die, than to help him. If that is not a case of brutality then I am not sure what is. One thing I do know for sure is my little boy does not know who to call when he is in trouble because he does not trust the police. How can a little boy trust the same men who just stood by and watched his Daddy die?

Jermaine and myself are far from perfect, but did we deserve this kind of treatment from the very people who are paid to help us? I don't think so. Someone is gone forever due to negligence and police brutality. It needs to end and it needs to end right now.

Always remembered, never forgotten.

 

Sincerely,

Jodie Burke


two other people heard about this post and wanted to write about their own experiences at the hands of the police, but they are involved in the complaints process and didn't want to jeopardize it. I have no doubt that if id' asked around there would be many more stories – after all, the criminal “justice” system and police brutality affect the same targeted communities.

well, i started this post on a happy note and i am going to end on one: peter has been released! half of the “guilty” G20 Main Conspiracy group are free (well, freer anyway) and soon enough we all will be. :)


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