A good day for anti-extremist forces

Sometimes you just have to applaud the police.  Yes, I know that they are often accused of, and even involved in, things that are not right, such as brutality or profiling or bias and these are issues that indeed must be identified and rectified.  Police officers are human after all and hence fallible but as the public places an inordinate amount of trust in them they are held to a high standard, fairly or otherwise.

Those who have read my posts and know my background already are aware of where I stand on our law enforcement neighbours.  Not only did I work for the Ontario Provincial Police’s Anti-Terrorism Section for the better part of a year but I have lectured to, and have many friends in, police forces at all levels in Canada and in the US.  So yes, I am a fervent supporter of the men and women who put themselves at risk to protect us day-in day-out.

Legitimate criticism aside, police forces do not get enough credit, in my humble view, when things go well. I’d like to change that, if even for a tiny bit, by writing today about a successful investigation (so far) by the Hamilton Police Service.  If you recall (here is a link to my blog on it), back in early March a bunch of hooligan wankers (that is the technical term for them) went on a looting spree in the Locke Street area of downtown Hamilton.  Calling themselves “We are the Ungovernables” these masked crusaders went on a rampage throwing rocks through the windows of local businesses, and the damage was estimated at over $100,000.  The apparent catalyst of their violent march: the gentrification of Hamilton neighbourhoods.

Through a police investigation, three suspects have been arrested and warrants have been issued for three more.  Three cheers for HPS!  Hard work has paid off and one hopes that the book will be thrown at these ‘justice warriors’.  Regardless of the legitimacy of their concerns, throwing rocks through the windows of small businesses is reprehensible. These activists were not after the Starbucks and Pradas of this world: they hit a ‘Donut Monster’ for God’s sake!  Any sympathy they hoped to gain for their ’cause’ should have evaporated the minute they elected to damage a mom and pop store.

But back to Hamilton Police.  I have no idea how they carried out their investigation and how they ended up with three people in custody.  After all these ‘heroes’ were wearing masks in an attempt to hide their acts of freedom from the rest of us.  Did a concerned citizen step forward?  Did one of the vandals let his face show?  Did the police already have an investigation into the ‘Ungovernables”?  Did they have an agent?  A warrant?  Whatever they were able to use kudos to their efforts.

Now comes the important part.  We need to, as a society, express our revulsion at these tactics.  Gentrification  may indeed be a serious social problem (I for one have no idea) and if so let us address it within the proper channels.  Running down the street tossing stones is not one of those channels.  We must, through the court system, state clearly that these actions are unacceptable and that the perpetrators will be punished accordingly (and apologise to those small business owners).

Extremism is extremism, irrespective of political or ideological stripe. If we consider ourselves to be a civilised nation then we must restrict the use of force to the State (and even that must be judiciously exercised).  Allowing cowardly actors to cavort violently through our towns is not ok.  The ‘Ungovernables’ have to be made to see that.


By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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