unacceptable. But I’m thinking it’s usually a more complicated scenario than either perspective alone would lead you to believe.
I follow the Copenhagenize blog, lovely collection of writing on biking, often centered in Europe, generally positive and inspiring. But today I discovered this post, the horrifying experience of a Toronto cyclist in a peaceful critical mass ride who was brutally abused by the police. My initial response was disgust, and an anger so vehement I was nearly shaking. But then I read the comments. Many were horrified as I was, but several said ‘hey, this is propaganda from the Black Bloc, and is obviously overblown and is intended to invoke sympathy and then retaliation against the cops’. Who is the Black Bloc? I didn’t know either, so I looked on Wikipedia (yes, not the ultimate source of knowledge by any means, but a good way to get a basic idea of almost anything), and found a bit more information here. Alright, maybe this isn’t as simple as another case of horrific police brutality if some protesters are intentionally inciting violence.
Further on in the comments on Copenhagenize, I found a link to an article that seemed a bit more, shall we say credible. Included are photos, both of the victim volunteering earlier in the year, as well as being beaten to the pavement this past weekend at the protest.
After following this chain of articles and news sources, two questions arise:
1. What actually happened? Were the police abusing their power violating several fundamental human rights? Or were these ‘Black Bloc’ protesters actively creating a protest to incite violence and thus win an unsuspecting public over to their mindset? Certainly the reality is somewhere in the middle, though I personally believe that if even a quarter of the original story of the victim is true, this is a clear example of police brutality. But the overall lack of transparency troubles me immensely.
2. Assuming that at least some police brutality occurred in this event, how does one respond, as a citizen of the world working toward promoting compassion and justice? And how can I or anyone hope to deal with violence in another city/country/part of the world when seven people (including a number of entirely innocent bystanders) are shot in seven hours in my own city? How does one refrain from despair?