I feel sick after hearing about what happened to 57-year-old Ontario resident, John Pruyn. I have embedded a video of him at Queen's Park. The footage shows John Pruyn complaining about the police presence before the police allegedly brutalized him.
I had heard about the incident on Saturday while on the streets, but then no follow up so I was kinda hoping it was a rumour. Now the man involved has come forward to tell his story.
There's no pretty way to tell this story, no way to make it less painful than it already is.
John Pruyn was downtown at Queen's Park -- remember, that designated protest zone - with his daughter Sarah on Saturday, June 26, 2010, for the Summit demonstrations.
The police attacked the crowd gathered there, pushing and shoving activists, conducting snatch arrests. They moved in on John, threatening him. Of course, John and his daughter did their best to comply. John fell over as the police pushed him and threatened him with arrest.
And here is where it gets ugly. Really ugly.
As John was on the ground, his daughter stood over him pleading with the police to give her father more space and more time to get up because he is an amputee. John and Sarah allege that the police began kicking and hitting John while he was still down on the ground. Then the police pulled off his prosthetic leg.
According to an interview with Niagara At Large on July 4, 2010, this is what occured: "Accusing him of resisting arrest, they pulled his walking sticks away from him, tied his hands behind his back and ripped off his prosthetic leg. Then they told him to get up and hop, and when he said he couldn't, they dragged him across the pavement, tearing skin off his elbows, with his hands still tied behind his back. His glasses were knocked off as they continued to accuse him of resisting arrest and of being a 'spitter', something he said he did not do."
I know it sound ugly and people might want to turn away but I need you to hear what happened to John from his POV.
--"(the police) tied his hands behind his back and ripped off his prosthetic leg."
--"Then they told him to get up and hop, and when he said he couldn't, they dragged him across the pavement, tearing skin off his elbows, with his hands still tied behind his back."
For the able-bodied, let me note mechanic wise, having your hands free is essential for balance while walking. You try hopping on one leg with your arms bound behind your back, nevermind in the middle of a police riot. The request by the police was impossible, not to mention insensitive and idiotic.
John Pruyn was taken to the Eastern Avenue Detention Centre without his eyeglasses or his artificial leg and was held for 27 hours. While he was accused of resisting arrest, he was later released without charges. His daughter was also arrested and detained in another area.
Peter Kormos of the NDP commented, "John's story is one of the most shocking of the whole (G20 summit) weekend."
Yup, this is what my $1.1 billion paid for: Let's terrorize and humiliate someone because they can't move or run as fast as the police would like them to. And when they can't move or run as fast as someone who is able-bodied, let's yank off their prosthetic leg and drag them across the pavement to the arrest van.
I know many Canadians have an image of the police as the friendly cop on the street corner but this is the kind of terror they can bring down on people. I hope the stories coming forward from the G20 Summit protests start to challenge people's assumptions. The police who are capable of marshalling the pride parade with big smiles are also capable of this kind of brutal humiliation.
It's important that we hear stories like what happened to John. As uncomfortable as it might be to hear, don't turn away. Steady now. It hurts and shocks us because it flies in the face of our basic Canadian sensibilities. We might want to pretend that it didn't happen, that there has to be a rational explanation... And yes, these allegations have not been proven in court, but we must respect the power of people telling their story.
You show dignity by listening. Which is more dignity than the cops can apparently show.
I should note here that Emomotimi Azorbo, who is deaf, has been charged with assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest, though during the arrest his friends pleaded with the police that he could not have heard the police's orders to move since the cops were standing behind him. Azorbo was held for hours at the detention centre without access to an independent ASL interpreter, a failure that the Canadian Hearing Society's Gary Malkowski says violates Azorbo's basic human rights. He has been released on bail.
Thank you for reading this story…
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