Calgary Police violated my Charter rights, brutalized me, and lied about it

Calgary Police violated my Charter rights, brutalized me, and lied about it
May 9, 2024 student encampment at UCalgary.

Three complaints submitted to Calgary Police Commission and the CPS Professional Standards Section.

Warning: this piece contains graphic video of police brutality. Proceed accordingly.

Since May 9, Calgary Police Chief Mark Neufeld has worked hard to concoct a narrative that serves his interests and those of the officers and decision makers who caused enormous violence to peaceful protesters at the University of Calgary. Fortunately, his lies are in the public record.

The richest source for Chief Neufeld's statements is the May 2024 Calgary Police Commission meeting, adding to the May 10 University President's statement and various statements by the chief to news media since. Together, these exemplify the tremendous energy devoted to police propaganda in this city and others, typically led by the chief, to seize unearned public trust and future budget increases.

It is worth disclosing that on May 9, 2024, after being bludgeoned to the point of concussion, I was ticketed $600 for a Trespass to Premises Act violation. My court date for this is set for June 13, 2024. As of this writing, the ticket has not been processed to the Crown Prosecutor.

I demand that my arresting officer process that ticket rather than 'losing it' in processing. Processing it would force disclosure of valuable evidence, including bodycam footage and journal notes, that would support legal action against Calgary Police Service for dozens of protesters.

On June 11, I submitted three separate complaints to Calgary Police Commission and to the CPS Professional Standards Section. They are provided here unedited for the public record.

Complaint 1: Executive Leadership at Calgary Police Service

On May 9, 2024, I was brutally beaten and arrested by Calgary Police at the University of Calgary, for standing with students exercising their right to peacefully assembly [sic] and protest. I suffered a concussion, a sprained finger, and cuts to the face from the violent attack by members of CPS.

This complaint is the first of three I am submitting, against those within the executive leadership responsible for clearing the decision to raid the encampment.

Universities are considered public land for the purpose of protest. This precedent was well established in Alberta following a student protest at Mount Royal University. Therefore, the charges of trespass used by Calgary Police on the evening of May 9 were against legal precedent and therefore a violation of the right to protest.

I am requesting for a legal review be conducted around the decision to apply trespass law as the basis for clearing the University of Calgary protest on May 9. If it is found that the decision that protesters must vacate the University grounds – a command made repeatedly by the officer on the megaphone in the late stages of the escalation – was indeed contrary to the protesters’ right to assemble and protest, I request a professional review of the conduct of those who made this decision.

I request that the findings of both reviews, should they come to pass, be made public, along with any policies enacted within Calgary Police Service stemming from the reviews.

Complaint 2: Excessive force

This complaint is the second of three I am submitting, against the sworn officers involved with my bludgeoning and arrest, who exercised extreme force when it was not necessary.

I made the decision to stand against the Calgary Police onslaught with the protesters, who visibly included young men, women, nonbinary and trans people and various racialized groups. At no point was I violent toward the police in any way but attempting to stand my ground. I was bashed with a shield, punched in the face at least three times, beaten with a baton, and, to my recollection, briefly choked while lying face-down on the ground.

On May 13, I submitted freedom of information requests for the body camera footage of the officers in the vicinity of my beating and arrest. That footage has yet to be released, but I am in possession of footage that shows a significant extent of the violence described above.

I will repeat this point: at no point did I pose a physical threat to the police officers who bludgeoned my head and other body parts.

I am requesting a review by the Professional Standards Section of all body camera footage available from the officers within a 5-metre radius of my arrest, including but not limited to my arresting officer, Cst. C. Morris, #6027. If it is found that excessive force was used by any of the officers involved – and I will insist that I can imagine no other outcome than this – I request the matter be handed over to the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team immediately and that appropriate mitigating action be taken against the officers involved, up to and including charges laid, to protect the public from further violence.

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Captured by, of all outlets, Rebel News: while I'm face-down on the ground (shoes with red soles), you can see one officer beating me with a baton from on top of me (5-second mark) while another appears to wind up and punch me around the head (6-second mark).

Complaint 3: Chief Mark Neufeld

This complaint is the third of three I am submitting, against the Chief of Police, who has propagated a considerable inventory of lies about the events leading up [sic] the extreme use of force by his officers.

I challenge the lies told by the Chief on public record as follows:

  • "No injuries reported by CPS,” relayed by University of Calgary President Ed McCauley in his statement on May 10, 2024: this lie portrays the CPS response as low-intensity and nonviolent, when it was in fact the opposite. I was injured, the person next to me was injured (and handed off to EMS by CPS officers), and many others were injured. At no point did a CPS officer ask me if I required medical attention, despite the visible injuries to my face and forehead, meaning the statement of “no injuries” was based in part on lack of inquiry and in part on a known lie.
  • That protesters were removing tents to a new protest area: this lie shores up the CPS argument that the protesters were negotiating with CPS in bad faith, and intended to renege on any agreements made to vacate the area that evening. In fact, the tents were packed out of the area and gathered up for mass removal – that most materials were recovered by protesters in the days following (through a considerable effort of students managing the inventory) proves they were moved to a completely new location. If they had been moved to another encampment ground, the materials would have presumably been seized by CPS officers hunting students through the university.
  • That Calgary Police were forced to remove the tents: this lie casts the protesters as uncooperative, when in reality the protesters did all of the work to clear the area in approximately one hour. This included removing massive quantities of food and sleeping materials from inside tents, as well as dismantling and moving tents themselves. [Expanding on this: police attacked almost immediately after the camp was cleared. The author proposes that having protesters clear the encampment was strategic on the part of CPS, to reduce complexity of the riot line advance and subsequent kettling of protesters.]
  • That Calgary Police advanced in response to bottles thrown: this lie provides cover for the violent CPS response as reactive to an escalating situation. In reality, the only bottles thrown were immediately following the initial advance by CPS, early in the evening. Hours later, prior to the advance in which many people were injured, no bottles were thrown – rather, the protesters (along with one or two officers) were singing “We shall not be moved."
  • That protesters were “deliberately attempting to make physical contact with police”: this lie provides further justification for a violent police response toward protesters. The truth is that most of the protesters were reacting as anyone might when confronted with a significant escalation of danger, to protect themselves. For example, it is an expected and normal reaction to grab at a riot shield if you or someone near you has been smashed in the face by one, as a means of protection.
  • That flashbangs and tear gas were not deployed on protesters: this lie minimizes the apparently pre-empted violence of Calgary Police against the protesters. In reality, Chief Neufeld admitted that oleoresin capsicum (the active ingredient in tear gas and pepper spray) grenades were used, which, as stated in the Calgary Herald, “produces light, sound and a synthetic version of OC (pepper) spray.” Whatever definition of flashbangs and tear gas you choose, these descriptions match their functions precisely.

This is a non-exhaustive list, but I am exhausted by Chief Neufeld’s lies and sincerely hope that CPS Commission and the Professional Standards Section take meaningful action to address the non-professional conduct exemplified by the chief on and since May 9, 2024.

I request a review of these public statements. If any is found to be in error – and I can assure the CPC and PSS that each of these claims has significant merit – I request that the chief be instructed to publicly retract his comments to the contrary, apologize to the people whose experience and trauma he diminished to provide cover for his violent operation, and, if deemed appropriate by these bodies, resign.

Submitted to Calgary Police Commission and Calgary Police Service Professional Standards Section on June 11, 2024.

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