Migrante Ontario Youth Statement
8 May 2009
Migrante Ontario Youth condemns the police violence against Adrienne Lee, Myk Miranda and Jeffrey Miranda at approximately 5:30 p.m. on May 2, 2009 near the peaceful Tamil protest on University Avenue. The police actions against them were a display of unnecessary use of force and an indication of the growing repression of Canadian law enforcers of people’s right to freedom of assembly.
Adrienne Lee, along with Myk Miranda and Jeffrey Miranda were observing the protestors at Armoury Street and University Avenue when they were approached by a contingent of the Toronto police present. At first the police used intimidation tactics – yelling at and motioning aggressively – with the intention of moving them off the public sidewalk. Despite their compliance, they were soon being pushed away by one officer.
The officer, who was much larger than all three, singled out Adrienne (the smallest of the group), who was walking with her bike. The officer pushed her along with one hand on her and the other on her bike. As she was following his order, she became rightfully upset and told the officer “Get your hands off of me and my bike, I can walk it myself!” At that point the police officer threw the bike down and grabbed Adrienne Lee and forcefully threw her to the ground.
The officer is described as White, at least 250 lbs., 6’4”, heavy built, while Adrienne is a 100-lb., Chinese-Canadian university student, and her companions were both Filipino.
“My girlfriend was trembling. We were all saddened, flabbergasted, disgusted, and terrified,” recalls Myk of the event. Myk protested Adrienne’s treatment and repeatedly requested the officer’s name and badge number which he at first refused to give and only later reluctantly acquiesced. Even then, he quickly and incoherently gave the information and refused further requests to repeat it. Another officer joined in and threatened Myk with arrest if he persisted with questioning the initial officer.
Migrante Ontario Youth would like to point out that all officers are by law required to give this information freely, clearly, and without hesitation. This attempt to avoid compliance is worrying and shows a disregard and disrespect of both the citizenry and the rule of law.
Myk further comments, “It makes me lose confidence in the character of some of these police officers who did not serve and protect, but harassed, provoked and abused. While there are honest cops with discipline and a strong sense of morality, what was exemplified and exposed was horribly the opposite. I couldn’t even get a record of his name. We all felt very violated. It was a dehumanizing experience.”
The assault on Adrienne, Myk and Jeffrey was not an isolated incident at that protest – Migrante Ontario Youth has also learned of the assaults the police made on Tamil and non-Tamil protesters on May 2, and of the arrests of two non-Tamil protesters. Despite the police chief William Blair’s statement that he would not interfere with the protest as long as it remained peaceful, there have been increasing hostile acts by the police towards the Tamil protesters, supporters, and now even mere observers. This behaviour is part of a systemic attack on people’s rights to freedom of assembly, and in particular, to demonstrate support for the Tamil people’s struggle for human rights and liberation.
We at Migrante Ontario Youth denounce this specific incident of police violence and the increasingly more frequent acts of unjustified force perpetrated by the Toronto Police. The use of force against lawful citizens is not only against the mission of the police, but is contrary to the values held by the Canadian people. Furthermore, we stand in solidarity with the Tamil people in their struggle for peace, justice and national liberation.
Reference: Mithi Esguerra, (647) 239-6553, migranteON.firstname.lastname@example.org