For David Chen, the shoplifters keep on coming

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Sean in Ottawa

To some degree the seriousness must also consider the impact on the victim-- as I said in the first thread on this a bike from someone who has no money is more serious than a Mercedes from a guy who can buy ten more. It is a huge problem that we do not consider this and have the police manage accordingly. As it is people who own very little can be wiped out before getting the attention of the police.

Sean in Ottawa

You raise good points here Cueball-- excellent post

Unionist

Yup. Thanks for correcting the perspective here, Cueball (and Sean too, for your previous thoughtful post). I'm getting sucked into attacking the poster child instead of the real criminals.

 

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
We can imagine all kinds of petty vendettas being prosecuted by folks who are unable to get proper satisfaction from the authorities defining for themselves what is a "reasonable period" of time for action, drunk people at parties discovering that their girlfriends purse is missing, and then tracking down the shady guy (who nobodies likes anyway) who left the party early, and beating him senseless, only to find out later the purse is under the couch.

 

I think that sort of thing happens already. Why should a verdict that DOES NOT SUPPORT THIS promote more of it?

 

Quote:

How long after your bike is stolen do you continue to have the right forcibly retrieve it from the person who purchased it unknowingly from the real thief?

 

What does this have to do with anything? Did Chen try to retrieve his plants from someone other than the man who stole them??

Cueball Cueball's picture

6079_Smith_W wrote:

I think how serious it is depends on whether or not you are the one being stolen from, and how much it amounts to.

I also think the tendency to dismiss crimes like shoplifting is also because many people have simply given up on the notion that people who commit those crimes can or should be impressed on to stop and to take responsibility for their actions.

 

I'll say! Indeed they have legalized all kind of larceny, such as stock market fraud, but never you mind that.

Michael Bryant can get away with murder and now the cops actually attempt to apply the law in the case of Chen, which they can do because he is not from the elite strata, and then Chow poses a private members bill that basically legalizes vigilantism.

We can imagine all kinds of petty vendettas being prosecuted by folks who are unable to get proper satisfaction from the authorities defining for themselves what is a "reasonable period" of time for action, drunk people at parties discovering that their girlfriends purse is missing, and then tracking down the shady guy (who nobodies likes anyway) who left the party early, and beating him senseless, only to find out later the purse is under the couch. How long after your bike is stolen do you continue to have the right forcibly retrieve it from the person who purchased it unknowingly from the real thief?

"The law is on our side..." or so we thought... think... (did we really?) based on our conviction of how right we are in our estimation of the "facts".

Is it any wonder that the little people like Chen and Bennett want to acquire the same rights as those above them who run rampant over morality and make up the rules as they go along? The public will remain confused here on what their rights really are, as long as those above make corruption part of their daily practice, and the police are not even restrained by the laws they are supposed to uphold.

Cueball Cueball's picture

Most cops can't even quote chapter and verse from the code. You expect the public to do so? Hardly. They have a very general estimation of what is right and wrong. Today it is open season on shady types who may or may not have possibly purchased and or possibly stolen your property, or so you estimate.

Half of the reason we have police and courts is so that they can determine the real facts in a dispute between two parties from a more objective point of view separate from the personal bias, and beliefs of the parties.

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:

Half of the reason we have police and courts is so that they can determine the real facts in a dispute between two parties from a more objective point of view separate from the personal bias, and beliefs of the parties.

 

That's why we have the courts, but not why we have the police. Chen wasn't replacing the courts. And as I say, I really doubt he had any personal desire to have to replace the police either.

sanizadeh

Cueball wrote:

Is it any wonder that the little people like Chen and Bennett want to acquire the same rights as those above them who run rampant over morality and make up the rules as they go along? The public will remain confused here on what their rights really are, as long as those above make corruption part of their daily practice, and the police are not even restrained by the laws they are supposed to uphold.

That's a great point.

6079_Smith_W

@ Cueball

Not sure if that was all directed at me, but I do know it had nothing at all to do with what I said.

Not that I disagree with all of it, but I'm not sure why you're quoting me at the top of it.

Do I need to repeat yet again that I don't think that what Chen did was a good thing?

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

I still don't understand why Olivia Chow felt this libertarian motivated outcome was something she should support. Warren Kinsella and Jason Kennedy I can understand. Somehow support in these parts seem to suggest justice for immigrants. Throughout the conservative factions its justice for the little guy and a victory against theiving, crack addict, homeless assholes.

I found the following opinion piece from NOW Magazine interesting:

David Chen's vile vigilantism
The problem with hog-tying shoplifters

Quote:
...It’s Chen’s story, predicament, that has taken on a life of its own among law and order types.

The immigration minister, Jason Kenney, was quick to recognize the potential PR. He paid Chen a visit. Smile. Snap. Photo opp.

Chen’s been offered a plea bargain, but his lawyer, Peter Lindsay, is advising against it and talking instead about challenging the citizen’s arrest provisions of the Criminal Code.

It stipulates that any member of the public can affect a citizens arrest using reasonable force. Did Chen overstep those bounds?

The cops seem to think so, otherwise they wouldn’t have charged him. Let’s think about this for a minute. What would it take the good men and women in blue to lay charges against someone who, on the face of it, was only trying to protect his business?

What makes this case the more interesting is Chen’s lawyer.

Peter Lindsay’s an interesting character. A self-described libertarian, he likes right-wing causes. Vigilante justice would seem to fit the M.O...

I wouldn't exhonerate the cops given that there are quite a few bad apples out there but am I to assume that many think the cops overstepped their bounds because Chen was an immigrant and that had he been white, no arrest?

To me it always smacked of a quest to loosen provisions against vigilanteism.

http://www.nowtoronto.com/daily/story.cfm?content=171926

Doug

laine lowe wrote:

That makes it even worse in my view. But the fact that shoplifting is being painted as such a serious crime is very problematic for me.

 

Nobody would take it seriously if it happened rarely but when it happens constantly I can well imagine a shopkeeper starting to take it very seriously indeed.

E.Tamaran

Even knowing that he is going to drop charges, the slimy judge could not stop himself from taking stabs at Mr Chen.
That proves again that Canada does not have justice system - it has legal bureaucracy.
How peculiar are his words that he could not convict - apparently he wanted to badly.

Unionist

Quite the revelation, laine. I had no idea that Peter Lindsay was the same Peter Lindsay who was Ernst Zundel's lead counsel in fighting against deportation. He's quite the hero of Stormfront and the other neo-nazi sites.

So I have two questions:

How did he come to be representing David Chen (who earns about $6.00 an hour, by his own account)?

Is Anthony Bennett African Canadian - or is that just my impression from watching the [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8HMdvoEHJM]video footage[/url]???

 

Unionist

Yeah, he can't be an immigrant, his name is Anthony Bennett. Tongue out

 

cruisin_turtle

6079_Smith_W wrote:

I'm an independent shopkeeper myself, as I have mentioned a few times already. But that's not the only reason I have sympathy for him. Even before I got into retail I knew of businessowners and residents in similar situations. ... Seeing your business stolen out from under you, getting no help and feeling powerless to do anything? Yes, I have sympathy for him.

 

Those posting against the store owner don't seem to know much about the business environment of independent corner stores if at all. 

I know a store owner who works $70 hours a week and clears less than $2000/month. He is a lucky one.  I know 2 others who were clearning less than that and eventually went out of business.  When these small business owners sell an item for $10 which they paid $8.50 for and then a shoplifter comes along and steals a similar $10 item, they have to sell 6 more just to get back to zero on the stolen item.

What do you do when shoplifters habitually keep stealing from you knowing that the worst that can happen to them is to be caught and asked to put the loot back on the shelf? What do you do when you call the police countless times and none of the calls result in a shoplifter being charged because the police has more important work to do than to look for a shoplifter. It's out of this frustration that when one is caught there is a desire to tie them up so you can hand one in to the police.  Because otherwise the police is not providing a deterence to those who made a past time out of shoplifting. 

The exception to this, if you are big enough to be able to hire your own security guard, then police will deal seriously with shoplifters caught by security guards.  Unfortunately only big chains can do this.   The business environment is so unfavourable to small business owners many have been driven out of business.

6079_Smith_W

@ Unionist

Sorry. I'm not sure where you're going with that. Might Lindsay's politics and personal motives embarrass some who have supported Chen? Perhaps. But one thing is for sure - it has absolutely nothing to do with Chen's actions and his arrest months earlier.

And I am leery about even guessing what you might be implying by raising the question of Mr. Bennet's race. Are you suggesting discrimination on the part of Chen? The judge? Lindsay? If you are factually correct it certainly didn't dissuade the cops from arresting Chen, nor the crown from taking Bennet on as a witness.

 

From the judge's ruling:

“There was always a subtext to this story,” he said. “The police inattention to minor transgressions. The root comes from the theory of broken windows. When petty thefts are not deterred there is a corresponding decline in the sense of security. The way people perceive the functioning of their neighbourhood informs their response. David Chen tried to fill the void where the justice system failed. The only conclusion I can come to is that I have a reasonable doubt [as to his guilt]. All such doubts must resolve in favour of the defence.”

http://news.nationalpost.com/2010/10/29/peter-kuitenbrouwer-judge-finds-...

 

 

Unionist

6079_Smith_W wrote:

@ Unionist

Sorry. I'm not sure where you're going with that. Might Lindsay's politics and personal motives embarrass some who have supported Chen?

No. Peter Lindsay is a high-profile defender of white supremacists, and Anthony Bennett is black, poor, a petty thief, and a drug addict. Explain to me why the MSM said nothing about Lindsay and why in the last 18 months they never mentioned that Bennett is black. We certainly heard a lot about Chen being hardworking and Chinese - just check every single article and babble for proof.

This is not about Chen. It's about those who are promoting the need to crack down on crime - the kind of crime universally committed by the poorest in the society.

How did Peter Lindsay end up with Chen? Who made that liaison?

Quote:

And I am leery about even guessing what you might be implying by raising the question of Mr. Bennet's race. Are you suggesting discrimination on the part of Chen? The judge?

Certainly not. How about the MSM?

Quote:
Lindsay?

Well, I wasn't suggesting that, but then, who knew he was a hero of Stormfront and their ilk? I didn't. Did you?

Quote:
If you are factually correct it certainly didn't dissuade the cops from arresting Chen, nor the crown from taking Bennet on as a witness.

... For which the police and the crown have been pilloried by every right-wing rag in the country - and still are today.

From the very start, this case has left a very dirty taste in my mouth - a rampage in favour of self-help and violence by businesspeople against petty criminals - with every single political party (Kenney, Volpe, Chow) scrambling to get on the bandwagon. Today, on television, I saw Olivia Chow sharing champagne with David Chen. This doesn't make some people sick. It makes me sick.

6079_Smith_W

On Lindsay, I agree he may have his own motives, and I agree his politics is a very interesting and unsettling sidenote. But again, it has no bearing on the actual incidents and the social environment which resulted in Mr. Chen being charged.

And it doesn't change my mind one bit about Chen's actions and motives, nor about the outcome.

And regarding Bennett's race, sorry, but I think you are reaching.

Unionist

6079_Smith_W wrote:

On Lindsay, I agree he may have his own motives, and I agree his politics is a very interesting and unsettling sidenote. But again, it has no bearing on the actual incidents and the social environment which resulted in Mr. Chen being charged.

So you think the problem is Chen being charged, and I think the problem is a mass hysteria about how our justice system coddles criminals, turns them loose, and doesn't protect businesses, so they need to protect themselves.

Quote:
And it doesn't change my mind one bit about Chen's actions and motives, nor about the outcome.

Cueball corrected the perspective some time ago, as I mentioned. Why are you talking about Chen's actions and motives? Who mentioned his motives? He wanted to go catch someone who was stealing from him. Not rocket science. Explain to me, rather, the motives of Jason Kenney, Joe Volpe, Olivia Chow, the National Post, the Toronto Sun, et al. And then remind me how progressive people should view this whole phenomenon.

Quote:
And regarding Bennett's race, sorry, but I think you are reaching.

You knew he was a person of colour? Did anyone? I do believe we heard about Mr. Chen's national and racial identity once or twice. What's going on here?

 

 

cruisin_turtle

6079_Smith_W wrote:

“The police inattention to minor transgressions. The root comes from the theory of broken windows. When petty thefts are not deterred there is a corresponding decline in the sense of security. The way people perceive the functioning of their neighbourhood informs their response. ..” 

I was in Toronto's bustling China Town once and witnessed a serious police raid on a makeshft sidewalk vendor who was displaying bootleg movies.  I along with others were surprised by the magnitude of police action considering the transgression.  The police takes protecting the virtual property of major hollywood studios more seriously than protecting the physical property of the city's residents.  Here's another local joke: if you want the police NOT to show up in an area, call them to report a bike theft.

6079_Smith_W

Unionist wrote:

Cueball corrected the perspective some time ago, as I mentioned.

*sigh*

No.. Cueball has his perspective, some of which I agree with, and some of which I do not, but it is no more the final word on this than my opinion or yours.

 

and @ cruisin_turtle

Well, sometimes it makes no sense at all, actually. One day I walked out of the bank right across West Hastings from the cop shop to find a handgun tucked in the back spokes of my bike.

Bank. Handgun.

I sure as hell was not going to touch it, so I went back in the bank and told the security guard. He called the cops and we waited half an hour for them to not show up before he gave up, picked the gun off my bike himself, and I left.

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

Lindsay's involvement in this case reminds me of the hip replacement case in Quebec a few  years ago. These cases serve an ulterior motive, beyond the scope of defending their client, in advancing a specific agenda. In the Quebec case it was to usher in justification for limited private health care options. In this case it's to give business (small, medium or large) more leeway to protect their property by extending the scope of citizen arrests.

There are better remedies to dealing with an increase in shoplifting that I am sure is hard on small store owners. 1) Improved/restored social safety net provisions; 2) increased opportunities for the disenfranchised to enter community life; and 3) more police foot patrols where they play part of the fabric of the community and not some intimidating outsiders.

autoworker autoworker's picture

6079_Smith_W:

Thanks for the link to the National Post article (10 kiwis for $1.29!).  I wonder if The Lucky Moose Food Mart also sells lottery tickets?

Stargazer

Snert wrote:

Quote:

Half of the reason we have police and courts is so that they can determine the real facts in a dispute between two parties from a more objective point of view separate from the personal bias, and beliefs of the parties.

 

That's why we have the courts, but not why we have the police. Chen wasn't replacing the courts. And as I say, I really doubt he had any personal desire to have to replace the police either.

 

Somewhat but not entirely true. The police are the ones who make the call as to whether or not a case can even go forward. Everything is dependent upon their notes and their assessment. I can think of a few rape cases that didn't go anywhere because the police decided things were "consensual". Never ever underestimate the power of police lies. Because it happens more times than not.

6079_Smith_W

@ laine lowe

I am in complete agreement with your second paragraph. Dealing with the societal problems rather than busting the head of someone driven to frustration by them is what I have been arguing for all along.

(this part is not just for you, laine)

Or is it just that we should judge people's capacity for responsible behaviour based on social standing? Someone with a job or business should know better, and is an outrage when he makes a mistake, but (to use an example, not making assumptions about Bennett) a homeless person just can't be expected to know any better, learn or change.

@ autoworker

I believe the same words came out of the judge's mouth regardless of the paper in which the quote appears. Or is everyone playing the guilt by association game today?

(edit)

association after the fact... we must be playing the bonus round!

Cueball Cueball's picture

I am confused on a specific point here. Does anyone know what Chen's explanation for bundling the suspect into a van? Where did he say he and his posse were going with the van and why? There was no way that Bennet could have been held on the street and the police called to come and take custody of Bennet?

I am not at all clear about this part.

Sineed

My understanding was they weren't going anywhere - they were using the van as a place to hold the suspect, like a holding cell.

Cueball Cueball's picture

My understanding is that the van was moving.

Unionist

Cueball is correct, according to what I've read:

Quote:

With Mr. Li at the wheel, Mr. Chen and Jie Chen struggled in the van with Mr. Bennett, whose repeated kicking damaged a rear door, he said. Along the way, Mr. Li spotted police officers on the street, and David Chen told him to stop and call them over.

Mr. Li complied, pulled over and summoned the officers, then went around to the van’s rear to open the doors. Mr. Chen then “saw the police approaching us. Then we were told to lie down.”

Crown prosecutor Eugene McDermott asked Mr. Chen, during cross-examination, why he felt it necessary to drive Mr. Bennett to the wholesale outlet rather than simply call police and wait, Mr. Chen said he was concerned the van was blocking traffic, and that he was unsure how long officers might take to arrive.

Also, it should be noted that Chen never called the police - a witness, Erasmus Lopez, called 911 when he saw them apprehend Bennett.

[url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/toronto/chinatown-grocer-te...

Cueball Cueball's picture

So the police arrested Chen at the site of the van or elsewhere?

Unionist

Cueball wrote:

So the police arrested Chen at the site of the van or elsewhere?

From what I read earlier, they detained Chen, his two employees, and Bennett right at the site of the van - put them on the ground, handcuffed them, etc. Obviously, having received a 911 call saying a group was tying up and kicking a man, they acted accordingly.

 

Cueball Cueball's picture

I don't see what the big deal is really. If I were a cop I'd arrest everyone. I mean really, these guys were supposed to take Chen's story on face value, and take the chance that it was a drug deal gone wrong and Bennet was going to end up as fish food?

6079_Smith_W

Cueball wrote:

I don't see what the big deal is really. If I were a cop I'd arrest everyone. I mean really, these guys were supposed to take Chen's story on face value, and take the chance that it was a drug deal gone wrong and Bennet was going to end up as fish food?

I don't think anyone here is questioning the arrest, and the police spokes person said exactly the same thing - that until they knew what was going on they had to act based on what they saw in front of them.

jacki-mo

Harper calls for change in criminal code to defend Chen-like actions: 

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/884714--we-ll-take-action-to-...

Unionist

Disgusting.

Doug

How so? It seems like a part of the law that could use clarification.

Cueball Cueball's picture

No. Not really. The idea that one can create laws that precisely dictate the correct course of action in each and every circumstance, and that the law can then be applied in every single case, is patently absurd. This is why we have judges and juries. They take the general concept of the law, and then apply the discovered facts within that framework.

There is a lattitude determined by circumstance that is an important function of law.

Indeed, there is a pretty clear definition in play here, and the judge found in favour of the defense. What is the issue with the present law that need to be fixed? On the other hand it is also really important that there be a deterrent to people taking the law into their own hands all the time. Loosening the definition of the time frame so that action may be taken "within a reasonable time", as Chow proposed is totally stupid.

What amounts to a "reasonable time" could be anybodies guess. 2 days, a week, a month... please. This is making the law less clear, not more clear. And that will lead to lay people having reason to believe that they have the right to take action in all manner of cases, as they see fit.

A clear definition, that is then interpreted by a judge or jury for extenuating circumstances is far more preferable. Chow's law will have people arguing in court that they thought 24 hours was a "reasonable time".

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

Do I detect a new campaign slogan for the NDP: "common sense change".

I see lots of problems with the proposed changes that are quite vague at the moment.

What is a reasonable passage of time? What is the threshold for identification of an alleged thief? Are there provisions for using reasonable force in obtaining and detaining suspects?

I still think that the Chen judgement was flawed. It's based on it being a continuous crime so that Chen's actions were considered catching him red-handed because he was going back to shoplift more goods. Bennet made it possible by confessing that was his intent. But intent is not the same as conducting a criminal act. The cops arrested Bennet for shoplifting the money trees and not for his intent to shoplift more.

Cueball Cueball's picture

I don't really have a big problem with the judges interpretation of the facts. And I don't really have a problem with Chen's actions, given the circumstance, and what we know. But I really think we want people to be circumspect about how much power they take into their own hands. Amendments to the law do not seem necessary to me. Justice was served by the present law, and the actions of the police and the courts.

But we really don't need people having a lot of lattitude in such cases. Stoping someone in the commission of a crime is good enough.

6079_Smith_W

@ Doug #86

I don't think so. The judge managed to figure it out just fine within the existing law, and as the most recent link states, the case was not precedent-setting. He saw no need to change anything.

 

I think this is just our  PM looking for an opportunity to exploit this situation for his own purpose and control the agenda .... and fish for a few more votes.

 

Cross-posted with you Cueball. My sentiments exactly.

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

6079_Smith_W wrote:

 

I think this is just our  PM looking for an opportunity to exploit this situation for his own purpose and control the agenda .... and fish for a few more votes.

I think aa few parties fit that bill.

trippie

Do we have property rights in the Canadian Charter?

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
 Bennet made it possible by confessing that was his intent.

 

It's interesting that he owned up to it. Maybe there's hope for him. But it wasn't crucial:

 

Quote:
"Mr. Bennett was committing an indictable offence whether Mr. Chen found him red-handed (or not)," Khawly said in his verdict. "It's a no-brainer to infer that... he's back to continue his illegal activities."

 

Unless maybe he was overcome by shame and was returning to give Chen $60. But he'd probably have said so if that were the case, no?

Cueball Cueball's picture

Snert wrote:

Quote:
 Bennet made it possible by confessing that was his intent.

 

It's interesting that he owned up to it. Maybe there's hope for him. But it wasn't crucial:

Stygmatization of the urban poor. Nice!

Snert Snert's picture

Stigmatizing??

I'm just pointing out that while many people in his position would have denied that they came back to steal again, he owned up to it.  That's responsibility, and it's a good thing, not a bad thing.

Doug

Responsibility would be realizing it's a bad idea to steal stuff and then not doing it.

Cueball Cueball's picture

Snert wrote:

Stigmatizing??

I'm just pointing out that while many people in his position would have denied that they came back to steal again, he owned up to it.  That's responsibility, and it's a good thing, not a bad thing.

Obviously he was an idiot for admiting that. He is obviously too stupid to know how the game is played to win in the system, and as such ends up stealing to compensate. Michael Bryant knows much better, since he is a trained legal professional.

Cueball Cueball's picture

Responsibility would be taking ownership of poverty issues instead of preaching at the poor. I am sure its very satisfying for people who have rarely, if ever, had to worry about where their next meal is coming from to be able to explain morality to those who rarely know, if ever, where their next meal is coming from.

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
I am sure its very satisfying for people who have rarely, if ever, had to worry about where their next meal is coming from to be able to explain morality to those who rarely know, if ever, where their next meal is coming from.

So you figure he stole inedible plants -- from a food store -- so that he could sell them to buy food?

Cueball Cueball's picture

And you assumption is that he was not. This brings me back to your stigmatization of the poor. Unlike you I happen to be aware that welfare in this city is not enough for an ascetic monk to rent a room and bring in enough food to eat. In other words anyone on welfare in this city is forced to find other sources of income, all of them illegal. Of course the middle class will always moralize to the poor about how they should at least try to life on the true path of a righteous Buddhist monk, living on rice and beans and meditating to pass the time, even though they themselves would never dream of such a thing,

How about you try this: Take whatever income you make and keep 625 dollars a month for yourself, to pay for room and board, and donate the rest to Anthony Bennet and see how righteous he becomes.

The predictable result of having a welfare system that does not even pay for the basic essentials of survival is crime. Is this an "I told you so" moment or what?

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