I got worried when I saw those mall “cops” switch from grey uniforms to black “swat” gear, complete with web belts heavy with 2-way radios and other utility pouches. This was out west, in Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Regina. There were too many stories even then about rent-a-cops abusing their “authority” by arresting people on suspicion of SWI – shopping while Indian. Some of the kids detained by the mall cops were roughed up, with a wink and a nod by the city cops.

The police exercised little discretion, usually nailing the kids for whatever they could on suspicion of whatever. Overloaded court dockets, frustrated judges, legal aid lawyers, little or no time for consultation made for a factory churning out institutionalized teenagers preparing them for a future in Priaire prisons.

It all started with mall cops who were usually white, with little or no training, no authority, but major attitude problems. It’s all about what people are taught when they’re young, who they hang with, what groups they join. Which is why this story worries the hell out of me.

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