Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Police Insist: "We Are Professionals And We Have No Interest In Hiding Anything"

There is an article about the police killing of Mohammed Anass Bennis in today’s Montreal Gazette (page A8) by Katherine Wilton – all about how the police are doing such a nice job investigating each other, and how they’ll be sure to let us know when they’re done.

Just sit tight kids, nothing to worry about at all:

Quebec City police investigating the shooting death last month of a Muslim man by Montreal police promised yesterday all the facts in the bizarre case will be made public once their work is complete.

“We are professionals and we have no interest in hiding anything,” said Constable Hughes Lavoie of Quebec City police, who were called in to investigate the Dec. 1 shooting of Mohammed Annas Bennis in Cote des Neiges.



I feel better aleady…

Simply put, what seems to have happened is this:

After effectively burying this case for a month (just three articles in the Gazette, for instance, none on the front page – similar coverage in the other press), last Saturday there was a demonstration organized by members of the Muslim community. The biggest demonstration about a cop killing in years – two thousand people – and this on the coldest day of the winter.

The Gazette tried to downplay this too – reporter Ann Carroll, who later admitted not even attending the march, simply wrote that “as many as 200 people rallied” – while other media reported that “hundreds” (CTV) or even “a thousand” (Journal de Montreal) people showed up.. None of them gave it the coverage that it deserved.

Nevertheless, a little is better than nothing at all – or in the eyes of the cops, worst than nothing at all – and so here they have to make their statements again, basically saying “Trust Us, We Know What We’re Doing.” (Which is what some of us are worried about…)

So now the cops want to reassure us that there is no need for a public inquiry and no need for transparency, because the police will eventually tell us what happened (once they’ve gathered, sifted, and sanitized the facts): “When the investigation is over, we will notify the media. But we never say anything about our findings until the investigation is complete.” (Constable Lavoie)

Again: this is a case where the police version of events was initially the only version presented in the media, and is still the main version. It is a case where protests by the community have been downplayed, and reassurances by the authorities have not been questioned. It is also a case where no reporters have done any real investigating of their own – we still don’t know the name of the cop who killed Bennis, we still don’t have any real understanding of why the surveillance tapes from the nearby Bell building have not been shown, there has been no pressure on the police to show the knife Bennis was allegedly wielding… the list of things that haven’t been looked into just goes on and on.

It makes me wonder… following the mass protests that surrounded the police killings of young Black men like Anthony Griffin and Marcellus Francois in the late 80s/early 90s, and after the Collective Opposed to Police Brutality and other groups managed to repeatedly call attention to police killings throughout the 90s… why are reporters so keen on not challenging the police and not actually reporting? Why are the papers burying these stories so much more than they did twenty years ago? Why are we no longer told the name of the cop who kills someone – shit, looking through the Gazette archives I note that in many cases we are not even told the name of their dead victims!

Is there some new media protocol for how to handle police killings?

Now that’s something that someone should report on…

Categories: , , ,

1 comment:

  1. Organizing the protests is the right thing. You and others with their blogs, etc. publicizing it is the right thing. The alternative media is the right place to do it. All we need is more of it, getting out to more people. Don't stop. Because we are the media now.

    However, a lot of people don't want to let go of the bourgeois media yet, because when they pay attention -- everybody knows. Well, our job is to develop an infrastructure so that our immediate goal is to see to it that enuff people know. Worry about our "larger" impact later... One stage at a time. Understand, people?

    Something to be said for organizing, eh?