Monday, May 10, 2010

Hands of Injustice—den Boer

Last week, Hamilton police beat up an innocent member of the Canadian workforce, a Karen refugee from Myanmar. They mistook Po La Hay for a drug trafficker. The police had come to the wrong apartment.

According to the report in The Hamilton Spectator, they handcuffed Po La, and when he said he was Po La (not the man listed on the warrant) “officers smashed his face on the floor and began kicking him. Po La was scared to move, believing they might be robbers despite the uniforms.”

“Our officers attended an address to apprehend a party wanted for trafficking narcotics,” said Chief Glenn De Caire.

The Hamilton police, under the leadership of their new police chief, are making a concerted effort to clean up the downtown. As the Spectator reports, in an effort to take drugs off the streets the vice and drug unit targeted street level drug traffickers. During a two-week project, they made 49 arrests, 100 charges, and seized $1.2 million in drugs including cocaine, crack, marijuana, oxycodone and crystal methamphetamine.

But, why beat up a man who is handcuffed? Even if he had been a drug dealer, why beat him up?
I believe the police are frustrated with the justice system. Again and again they see criminals return to the streets after an appearance in court. So, they are tempted to take justice into their own incapable hands.

This reminds me of Habakkuk’s complaint to the Lord, “Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.” Habakkuk 1:3,4


Anonymous said...

Hi Ms Boer,

I'm a christian peace officer in the NCA area. I was glad you brought up "frustration with the justice system" as the second face of the story.

You're right, a handcuff person(should we say nobody)deserves to be beaten.

We're usually judged quickly, and quite misunderstood, eventhought some stories are true. I guess I agree with Habakkuk's story. Shall I say that he is my friend!


Peter Black said...

Risking the cliche, this is something of a cautionary tale.
In reading your account of what happened to Po La, a sense of indignation at the injustice rises very quickly (and rightly so). Yet, as you point out, members of the policing community do have cause for deep frustration, too.
We are reminded of the frailty of human systems and human nature.
Hopefully some good will come out of this, and the wronged individual receive compensation and recovery from his trauma.
Thanks Marian.

Popular Posts