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Hill Life & People

Force is not just what comes out of the barrel of a police officer’s gun

By Alok Mukherjee and Tim Harper      

The following is an excerpt from Excessive Force: Toronto's Fight to Reform City Policing, by Tim Harper and Alok Mukherjee, one of five books nominated for this year's Donner Prize, the best public policy book written by a Canadian. The winner will be announced on May 1 in Toronto.

Police, pictured on June 26, 2010, at the G20 in Toronto when riots broke out after some protesters vandalized several downtown businesses. Some 1,000 arrests were made over the course of the two-day summit. The Toronto Police Service and the Integrated Security Unit of the G20 summit were later criticized for brutality. At its peak, there were 10,000 protesters and more than 20,000 police, military and security policed the protests. The Hill Times file photograph

Force is not just what comes out of the barrel of a police officer’s gun. It certainly is that, but it also takes many other forms: intimidation; arbitrary actions that criminalize or harass ordinary people, especially if they are Black, brown, Indigenous or poor; use of the collective power of unions and professional associations to resist local and provincial efforts to change or modernize policing; ability to escape or avoid accountability when there has been wrongdoing. The list goes on.

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