I know what you’re thinking. Shmohawk’s going to go on and on about that raid in Kanehsatake. Right? Well, yeah, but not just that.
That raid got me thinking about how cops work. What the police do in these types of raids? How they treat people? Whether there’s any protection from abuse by the police? Is there a way for people to complain about their treatment at the hands of police? Believe me, when the police came into Kanehsatake (to paraphrase a former Toronto councillor describing perceptions in Black communiities), they came like an invading army?
You see, I believe the police would have handled the situation very differently if Kanehsatake were a white community. If Kanehsatake were white, the police would not:
- shut down the entire community with road blacks at ever entrance into or out of the territory;
- stop and search every car at the several checkpoints;
- prevent every vehicle trying to enter;
- walk about with weapons drawn at all times;
- stop the media from entering the community to cover the story;
- treat everyone like criminals instead of law-abiding bystanders.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not for drugs, pushers or grow-ops. I think people who break the law should be charged, have a fair trial, and go to jail if necessary. I despise people who sell dope to kids on school grounds. But treating an entire community of people like criminals invites distrust of the heavy hand of government and even more hatred of police forces. I cannot think of a single person in Kanehsatake after the raid who thought better of the police or the justice system.
The Sûrèté du Québec had been in Kanehsatake for more than a year before the raid. They drove around, parked in driveways or parking lots, but otherwise did nothing to earn the money they were paid to SERVE Kanehsatake. I use that word deliberately.
Not a single SQ officer tried to be anything more than a menacing presence sitting in a police cruiser in the past year. No offers to talk to students in the school. No attempt to reach out to the kids in sports. Not a single instance where an SQ officer tried to be human toward any Mohawk in the territory. They just sat there, useless, expensive, and menacing.
I suspect that any calls for help, if anyone was desperate enough to actually call the SQ for help during the past year, would have been ignored. After all, in the past, the SQ has ignored desperate calls for help when hoodlums were shooting up homes while parents and their children hid in the basement. That tells you something about the SQ, and the way Mohawks regard these so-called peace officers. The SQ doesn’t give a crap about Mohawk lives.
As for the native cops who apparently took part in the raid, they were window-dressing. Nothing more. They were there make the whole thing look legit, to show the media that Indians called for the raids (no problem there), were part of the joint effort to carry out the raid (did they really?), ensure that Mohawks were treated fairly. I think that last one is bull because the organizers of the raid know the media won’t look any further into the role or the record of the native police who took part in this raid.
And there’s a story there. Trust me, the behaviours of some of these native cops really needs to be questioned.