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(en) Canada, Toronto, MEDIA, On Guard For Whom? Cops Say They Were Protecting Kids Taken From Protestors, But I Wonder...

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Thu, 27 Nov 2003 15:09:00 +0100 (CET)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
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http://ainfos.ca/ http://ainfos.ca/index24.html

News article from Now Magazine on Toronto Police intimidation of parents at
demonstrations, the arrest of OCAP and NEFAC member [former member of the
a-infos collective] PJ Lilley, and the attempted police-kidnapping of her son.
The lobby of metro hall on November 13 was a bureaucrat's nightmare
- kids everywhere. Running. Crawling. Shouting. Drooling. Dressed for
casual Friday on a Thursday. It was like Bring Your Kids To Work
Day, but worse - Bring Your Kids To Other People's Work Day. The
young ones weren't being acclimatized to the job market, but were still
learning the ropes of one of the longest-standing practices:
disobedience. This comes naturally to the under-three set, and I differ
from many confirmed breeders in that I think it's important that they
keep the skill sharp. Disobedience is one of the few abilities that
diminish with age, and unless we get ample time to practice the ups
and downs of being disagreeable, the impulse can go into remission,
re-emerging later in unhealthy forms.

OCAPers are here to protest at the police services board upstairs
over some strange new policing practice in which officers threaten
parents who bring their kids to demos. The immediate issue is the
"confiscation" of OCAP member PJ Lilley's son, Saoirse, at the squat
action earlier this month opposite Don Jail.

In the four days following the squat action, other stories emerge. Two
other OCAP members were threatened at the demo with having their
children taken. Nancy (she doesn't want her last name revealed)
related her encounter with an officer while standing across the street
from the action.

"He said to me, 'You'd better be careful, or you're next,'" she recalled.
"I asked why. He said I was endangering my child. I said, 'If there's
any danger here, it's because of you. '" Other parents who attended
the squat with kids in tow were not threatened - nor were they OCAP

Police deny any wrongdoing. "There was no abduction or kidnapping or
whatever it is OCAP is going around saying," Sergeant Jim Muscat
told me. "A female officer took the child into custody until its parents
could be found." Once Saoirse was given to his father, Jeff, the police
wanted to ensure a family reunion. "They (father and son) were placed
in a vehicle for their protection and transportation, and taken to the
police station where the child's mother was being held." During the
scuffle, Lilley had been charged with assaulting police. She says she
will fight the charges and file an official complaint.

That's a very touching story, but I can't help feeling a bit skeptical.
Perhaps the sergeant can be forgiven for repeating the error-filled
briefing he gave to his superiors.

If police wanted to find the child's parents, they might have looked to
the woman whose shoulders they grabbed him from. Presumably, she
was not fit to parent since she had assaulted an officer. While police
surrounded the building and shoved people, onlookers shouted in
outrage. This is when the alleged assault took place. I happened to be
near Lilley at the time, and the officer's story puts a new spin on what
I saw simply as an argument.

Apparently, while carrying a child, Lilley unleashed an attack that not
only travelled 5 feet and passed through a fence and a row of police
bicycles but was completely invisible. These frightening allegations
clearly show that she must be a ninja.

Though "protecting a child" sounds good, what were they protecting
him from? The squatters had already occupied the building. Activists
were there to show support. That day, an eye looking for danger could
only be drawn to the gang of jumpy officers, who protected the boy by
bringing him toward the house in question, in the middle of the
demonstration, ground zero for everyone's anxiety.

Police seemed hostile to the idea of returning the child. In the end,
they agreed to hand him over, but only away from the protest, in a
police cruiser. They were driven to 51 Division, where, contrary to
Muscat's info, Lilley was not to be found.

Rather, officers called ahead to child services, informing them that
they were bringing Saoirse. Not wanting to be complicit in kidnapping
his own son, Jeff protested. Some passersby came over, and the
police decided to let him go. The family eventually reunited at home,
with some new extended relatives. "Those first few nights," says
Lilley, "we had cops parked across from our house.

"It's very important that we continue to have a movement that is
welcoming to parents, children, older people, people of all sorts of
ages and abilities," she says. "If we lose that, we lose the ability to
organize. We can't just have a movement of single 20-year-old guys
who are ready to run."

Muscat dismisses the suggestion that police were trying to subvert
this kind of diversity. "I have been to many demonstrations where
there are families," he says. After all this, that doesn't make me feel

See also:

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