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Bursting Bubbles
October 17, 2010 9:57 PM   Subscribe

When he first saw a video of a Toronto constable threatening to arrest a G20 protester for blowing bubbles, one YouTube user was so livid, he couldn’t stop writing comments. In fact, the man, who uses the alias “theforcebewithme,” can’t even remember writing the specific comment that now has him defending a $1.2 million defamation lawsuit launched by Toronto’s now notorious “Officer Bubbles.” Const. Adam Josephs seeks to compel the Google-owned YouTube to reveal the identity of the person who created and posted the videos as well as any information it has on the 24 other users who made allegedly defamatory remarks.

Josephs’ lawsuit isn’t targeting the video that sparked his infamy, but a collection of eight cartoons posted to the popular video website that show a police officer resembling Josephs engaging in abusive acts of power.

The Real News videos:

Original "Busted for Bubbles" incident.

The Whole "Officer Bubbles" Story: Toronto Neighborhood Responds to G20 Policing

Bursting "Officer Bubbles"

MisterOfficerBubbles cartoons:
1. Touched by Love
2. Black Bloc
3. Weapons Display
4. City Hall
5. First Aid
6. G20 Media
7. Secret 5 Metre Law
8. The Kettle

(The animations are reposts of the original videos, which were removed.)
posted by thescientificmethhead (136 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
lol
posted by philip-random at 9:59 PM on October 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Once again we are reminded, the pleasure of fiction is that fiction has to make sense.
posted by The Whelk at 10:02 PM on October 17, 2010 [16 favorites]


Lighten up, bubbles.
posted by mobunited at 10:03 PM on October 17, 2010


Please God, let the cast of "Trailer Park Boys" come to the court proceedings.
posted by GuyZero at 10:08 PM on October 17, 2010 [10 favorites]


It must really suck to be all hopped up and strung out on steroids and adrenalin and then be forced to show off your chicken legs in those silly little shorts. That'd be enough to turn any man into Darth Bubbles.
posted by felix betachat at 10:09 PM on October 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm afraid to comment, I might be sued for stating the obv--I mean, defamation *rolleyes*

Although, I would like to see the missing moments between the "bubble incident" and the arrest; maybe I'm just skeptical, but I think there had to be something else that happened in between to cause her to get arrested.
posted by 1000monkeys at 10:11 PM on October 17, 2010


A little light music to listen to while you read this post.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:12 PM on October 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


Please God, let the cast of "Trailer Park Boys" come to the court proceedings.

If I can't smoke and swear... I'm fucked.
posted by mazola at 10:16 PM on October 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


^maybe I'm just skeptical, but I think there had to be something else that happened in between to cause her to get arrested.

Cnews: In a statement to the QMI Agency, Winkels stressed she wasn’t arrested for blowing bubbles.

“The fact is that the bubbles had nothing to do with my arrest,” she said. “The reason I was arrested is because I was wearing a backpack and had a lawyer’s phone number written on my arm. This number was given out by lawyers, and they advised us to have it written somewhere on our bodies.”

The 20-year-old was a volunteer street medic at the G20 and said she “wasn’t even protesting.”

“My medical supplies were taken and suggested they could be used as evidence for my charge,” she said.

Court records show she is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mischief over $5,000.
posted by thescientificmethhead at 10:17 PM on October 17, 2010 [11 favorites]


Me thinks the lady doth protest too much.
posted by null terminated at 10:20 PM on October 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Court records show she is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mischief over $5,000.

Yes, thoughtcrime is doubleplusungood. Wordcrime is tripleplusungood.
posted by notion at 10:22 PM on October 17, 2010 [6 favorites]


maybe we should send him some pins so he can protect himself against the next bubble wielding terrorist he runs across
posted by pyramid termite at 10:24 PM on October 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


The female cop is embarrassed. She should be.

It's a cliche, but there is a reason for that - a lot of cops are looking for an excuse to knock heads when they go to protests. They really, really, really, want to beat the hell out of someone. Some cheap intimidation is sometimes all a guy can get, but hey.

By the way, Officer Bubbles assaulted the camera man by placing his hand on the camera.
posted by Xoebe at 10:25 PM on October 17, 2010 [8 favorites]


Constable Adam Josephs, you're a freaking tool. I hope you lose your lawsuit, and continue to feel humiliation as these videos spread around the Internet for months, or maybe even years to come. There were a lot of police abuses at the G20, and since most of those officers were anonymous they will never experience any repercussions for throwing hundreds of innocent people in jail. But thanks to your lawsuit, you've blown a small incident into something much bigger and outed yourself. So thanks for putting one name to a face, at least.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:30 PM on October 17, 2010 [16 favorites]


But thanks to your lawsuit, you've blown a small incident into something much bigger and outed yourself.

This is exactly it. I live in Parkdale and had never even heard of this before. What a fuckin' moron.
posted by dobbs at 10:34 PM on October 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


My favorite part of the video was the "For a billion dollars we could have gotten someone with a better attitude!" guy. Maybe Canadians are just less used to asshole cops

That said, I think about it would be pretty annoying for most people to have bubbles blown in their face if you were required to stand in one spot. Think about it in a "I'm not touching you (but I have my finger one inch away from you) does it bother you??" kind of way. It would be especially annoying if you were standing all day, tired, exasperated, etc.

But while I understand why he might be frustrated, his response wasn't really reasonable.

The other thing is that when people watch videos, they often empathize more with the perspective it's filmed from. So this video is was shot from the protesters perspective, and it puts us in the protester's position. If we saw it from his perspective, we might get why he was frustrated.

But still, totally over reacted, especially in arresting her. And the lawsuits are just crazy.
posted by delmoi at 10:35 PM on October 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow.
A man accused of being a ringleader of the vandalism seen during the G20 summit protests in Toronto this summer was forced to sign strict bail conditions that bar him from speaking to the media, nearly two dozen people and members of several organizations, his family says.

Alex Hundert, 30, faces three counts of conspiracy pertaining to G20 activities. His family says Mr. Hundert initially refused to sign the stringent bail conditions —the likes of which one expert says he’s never seen before...

On Tuesday, Justice of the Peace Inderpaul Chandhoke clarified Mr. Hundert’s bail terms, including the no-demonstration rule, which forbids him from speaking to the media, planning, participating in, or attending any public event that expresses views on a political issue.

Mr. Hundert, who is under house arrest, also cannot post “anything public” on the Internet, Mr. Norris said.
If we have to turn Western society into Stalinist Russia to save it from terrorism, what exactly are we saving again?
posted by notion at 10:39 PM on October 17, 2010 [68 favorites]


Ironically, Officer Bubbles' American cousin is actually a social worker.

Meanwhile, almost 100 people who were arrested that weekend had their charges dismissed last week.
Police rounded up more than 1,000 people during the G20, in the largest mass arrests in Canadian history. Of those, only 300 were charged and several have already had their charges withdrawn. Spokespeople for the Ontario Attorney-General could not be reached late Thursday evening to confirm the exact number of people who still face charges.
And I can't fucking believe this:
Alex Hundert’s words will not appear in this story. Unlike other Canadians, he’s not allowed to speak to the press. At least that’s how a court interpreted the new bail conditions placed on Hundert, an accused ringleader of violence during the G20 summit in June. ...

Hundert, 30, faces three counts of conspiracy pertaining to G20 activities, and was released in July on $100,000 bail with about 20 terms, including not participating in any public demonstration. Shortly after his release, the Crown filed an appeal to revoke his bail. Superior Court Justice Todd Ducharme ruled against that appeal.

On Sept. 17, shortly after Ducharme’s decision, Hundert was arrested for participating in a panel discussion at Ryerson University — which police deemed to be a public demonstration.

On Wednesday Hundert agreed to the new, more stringent, bail conditions.

They include a clarification of the no-demonstration rule, to include a restriction on planning, participating in, or attending any public event that expresses views on a political issue.

Justice of the Peace Inderpaul Chandhoke told the court the new conditions also restrict Hundert from speaking to the media.
posted by maudlin at 10:40 PM on October 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I hope you lose your lawsuit, and continue to feel humiliation as these videos spread around the Internet for months, or maybe even years to come.

no, those videos aren't enough - what he needs to become is the next chuck norris or admiral ackbar - an internet meme that no one can avoid
posted by pyramid termite at 10:44 PM on October 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


Court records show she is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mischief over $5,000.

They also got that double rainbows guy on one count each of conspiracy to incite or promote hatred against an identifiable group (hippies) and disturbing the peace.

I kid because if I think for more than 7 seconds about the full grotesqueness of Stephen Harper's G20 Cavalcade of Fascist Posturing, it makes my left eyelid twitch uncontrollably as my mouth fills with a disgust so thick with bile it burns out my fillings, and then I pace half the night in a shambolic hate haze with silver and mercury spilling down my cheeks, and it just freaks the hell out of my poor daughter when I go into wake her in the morning. So, yeah. Easy laff. Beats the legal fees on an attempted regicide rap.
posted by gompa at 10:45 PM on October 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Me thinks the lady doth protest too much.

What?!

Methinks the bully in a uniform abused a power imbalance for the sake of his own ego, with no respect for his profession, colleagues, or the dude with a video camera.
posted by smoke at 10:52 PM on October 17, 2010 [10 favorites]



Me thinks the lady doth protest too much.

What?!


I should clarify that I think the abuse of power is ridiculous and was merely making an awful pun related to "protest" vs. "protest", which doesn't come across well at all in print.
posted by null terminated at 11:00 PM on October 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's a cliche, but there is a reason for that - a lot of cops are looking for an excuse to knock heads when they go to protests.

And a lot of protesters go with the express goal of giving them that excuse.

As far as I'm concerned, it's an asshole festival all the way around. And the biggest asshole is whoever put that video out, because it deliberately distorts the facts of the situation to prove a point.

And while the bubble blowing achieved the desired effect of making the officer look ridiculous, I think it should be noted he didn't "knock any heads". He verbally controlled the situation. Granted, he maybe could have done so in a less dickheaded manner, but things could have turned out A lot worse
posted by billyfleetwood at 11:07 PM on October 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I should clarify that I think the abuse of power is ridiculous and was merely making an awful pun related to "protest" vs. "protest", which doesn't come across well at all in print.

Oh right, sorry. Heh heh. I needed to put my joke hat on. That's actually quite funny!
posted by smoke at 11:10 PM on October 17, 2010


Watching these videos again over the last few days brought back some really bad memories as I had many friends pulled off into court trucks and unmarked vans that week. (Not the cartoons, obv.)
posted by avocet at 11:21 PM on October 17, 2010


That said, I am LOLing my face off over "Adam Josephs vs. John Doe No. 7 aka Pussymcfats"
posted by avocet at 11:24 PM on October 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


On several threads about this I've seen people referring to the act of blowing bubbles in someone's face. It excites me that people actually believe its possible to blow bubbles into someone's face. You would have to be just about fucking kissing someone for this to even be a thing. George Carlin's pussification of America unfolds at a dramatically increasing rate.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 11:27 PM on October 17, 2010


George Carlin's pussification of America unfolds at a dramatically increasing rate.

This was in Toronto. Canada.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:29 PM on October 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


I know it was Canada. I'm referring to the American commenters commenting about the incident.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 11:31 PM on October 17, 2010


I think it should be noted he didn't "knock any heads". He verbally controlled the situation. Granted, he maybe could have done so in a less dickheaded manner, but things could have turned out A lot worse.

Oh that's right: this guy is merely an asshole of a cop. I'm inclined to ignore the arrest as we don't really know what went on there (the footage is cut and I haven't been able to find an uncut version), but this guy didn't verbally control the situation at all, he created the situation by taking this woman's actions personally, which is something you absolutely cannot do when you're in a position of public power and trust. There was no situation whatsoever until he walked into this shitstorm. The right response in this situation is to take a step backwards and say "please be careful not to blow bubbles into my face" (she didn't hit him with bubbles anyway). If that doesn't work, "either blow bubbles away from people's faces or put the bubbles away please" is perfectly acceptable. Getting all worked up and threatening assault charges if a single bubble dares to enter his personal space is exactly the opposite behavior a cop should display.

Before Officer Bubbles came into this, there was no situation whatsoever. Every single action he has taken in this matter has been to escalate the conflict. He threatened assault charges and threw a hissy fit over bubbles and sued dozens of individuals who disagreed with his actions. Yes conflict is a two way street and others behaved badly here, but it's his job to be above that and deescalate conflicts. Instead, he has continuously made things worse, which is why he's a bad cop.
posted by zachlipton at 11:36 PM on October 17, 2010 [40 favorites]


Honest question: legally speaking, slander and libel and such, they can apply to comments on youtube, right? I haven't read the youtube comments (because, seriously folks, youtube comments?), but if theforcebewithme's comments can be proved to be slander/libel, isn't he pretty much fucked? I mean, the law does apply, right? If it doesn't apply, can anyone tell me why?

/not a fan of cops abusing power, not a troll trying to rile people up, just want to know more.
posted by Ghidorah at 11:39 PM on October 17, 2010


"he created the situation by taking this woman's actions personally, which is something you absolutely cannot do when you're in a position of public power and trust."

Thank you. A lot of folks have difficulty with the simple idea that those with the power are expected- in a civil society- to keep their cool. Cops aren't paid to be people with issues, they're supposed to keep the peace.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 11:42 PM on October 17, 2010 [24 favorites]


zachlipton: as posted above,

“The fact is that the bubbles had nothing to do with my arrest,” she said. “The reason I was arrested is because I was wearing a backpack and had a lawyer’s phone number written on my arm. This number was given out by lawyers, and they advised us to have it written somewhere on our bodies.”

That was pretty much par for the course that weekend. Over the last two months a few hundred people have had their (entirely ridiculous) charges dismissed.
posted by avocet at 11:43 PM on October 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is the very definition of a SLAPP suit.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:43 PM on October 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


It would be pretty funny if everyone in Toronto started calling 911 to report bubble assaults, demanding the police show up and file a report.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 12:01 AM on October 18, 2010 [22 favorites]


Can you be charged with thirty-degree bubble bathing in Canada? Are bath assaults illegal?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:11 AM on October 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


bath assaults

I see what you did there, and I like it.
posted by 1000monkeys at 12:23 AM on October 18, 2010


Yeah avocet. I'm reasonably suspicious that the arrest was ridiculous for its own reasons, but for the sake of the point I was making, it was easier to ignore the arrest because we don't really know exactly what happened there. This officer was a dick and continues to act like a dick whether or not the arrest had the slightest bit of justification.

Ghidorah: Of course libel applies to YouTube comments and any other means of transmitting defamatory written communication to others (definitions may vary in your jurisdiction, IANAL).
posted by zachlipton at 12:31 AM on October 18, 2010


Constable Josephs, meet Barbera Streisand.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:34 AM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


In unrelated news, the Armed Robbers Union of Toronto has now announced the trial of a non-lethal law enforcement deterrent weapon.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:44 AM on October 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Strange that he's so upset by bubbles, given that he's such an enormous prick.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 12:49 AM on October 18, 2010 [10 favorites]


Before Officer Bubbles came into this, there was no situation whatsoever. Every single action he has taken in this matter has been to escalate the conflict.

There was indeed a "situation". This was during the G20 protests. The arrests were not due to any sort of escalated conflict. they were a routine part of the the official crowd control strategy. If you have a problem with that strategy, I'd probably be inclined to agree with you. But that officer did not create the situation, nor was he the one who crafted the official response to the situation.

What cause was bubble girl there to stand up for? Bubble rights? I see no evidence from that video that she stood for anything besides provoking police officers.

I am not trying to be a police apologist here, I'm all for standing up to the man. However, I increasingly see these videos, and it's a few people attempting to provoke the police, and a lot more people standing around pointing cameras hoping to catch the one officer who loses his shit and does something wrong. As far as I'm concerned, that's asshole behavior, helps no cause, and proves no point. As far as I'm concerned the whole thing has become a pointless and stupid game that makes everyone involved look foolish.
posted by billyfleetwood at 12:53 AM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


it's a few people attempting to provoke the police, and a lot more people standing around pointing cameras hoping to catch the one officer who loses his shit and does something wrong.

Modern protests are indeed pretty lame, but that's not the point here. People will behave badly and provoke others. That's a fact of life. It is the policeman's job and duty to not "lose his shit" and make things worse. People are standing around pointing cameras because many officers can and do act belligerently during protests. There was the broader situation of the G20 protests, but the specific situation we're talking about here is the bubble incident. There was no "bubble situation" until this officer made one.

And why does bubble girl have to be standing up for a cause? She was blowing bubbles on a public street. Maybe she was standing up for nucleation or gravity. It doesn't matter. Her behavior wasn't perfect, but the officer's response was far out of line to the behavior here, and he's continued to respond increasingly poorly through multimillion libel suits against anonymous YouTube posters.

It's the officer who makes everyone look foolish by repeatedly freaking out.
posted by zachlipton at 1:09 AM on October 18, 2010 [5 favorites]



"he created the situation by taking this woman's actions personally, which is something you absolutely cannot do when you're in a position of public power and trust."


This. So much.

One of the most important things to bear in mind when working in ANY security related situation is that you cannot take things personally. Nobody is reacting to YOU - they are reacting to your job and your uniform. Besides, none of it is about you at all - you are a functionary, acting in the service of your employer; YOU don't even exist.

Anyone who is saying that this woman in any way deserved the treatment she received, or that almost anyone at G-20 deserved the treatment they received, has probably never lived in a city where a conference of this magnitude occurred. You learn pretty quickly that you don't really have to be doing anything to be detained if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time. And it becomes grotesquely clear that the people that are being Protected have rights above and beyond yours, and are much more Important than you are. Nobody on the inside gives one tenth of a cold shit about what happens to the people outside it. And that includes not only the protesters and the random people who find them selves incarcerated and abused for crossing the street at the wrong time, but the police officers as well.


Yes, you, Adam Josephs. You're a redshirt, really. The tables can turn very quickly and your power can be taken from you so very easily.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:22 AM on October 18, 2010 [15 favorites]


"However, I increasingly see these videos, and it's a few people attempting to provoke the police, and a lot more people standing around pointing cameras hoping to catch the one officer who loses his shit and does something wrong."

But the provocation worked! Jesus christ, it couldn't have worked any better! The officer did do something wrong, which is the point of the provocation, because so often pigs- there, I said it- get away with fucking up citizens. The idea is to show them doing it on video so that terrible situation can change through public pressure.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 1:24 AM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maybe the residents of Toronto should sue him for defamation for calling them "human garbage".

What is up with the cops from 52 division, any time there is a bad apple it seems to come out of 52.
posted by saucysault at 1:41 AM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can totally understand how someone could lose it in the presence of bubbles.

Those things just radiate tension in every direction.
posted by srboisvert at 1:55 AM on October 18, 2010 [68 favorites]


"What cause was bubble girl there to stand up for? Bubble rights? I see no evidence from that video that she stood for anything besides provoking police officers ... As far as I'm concerned ... As far as I'm concerned ... "

Thanks for the concern, concern troll.

"As far as I'm concerned the whole thing has become a pointless and stupid game that makes everyone involved look foolish."

Yes, they are totally equivalent. Blowing bubbles in a public place is exactly the same as an authority figure acting like a complete dickbag.
posted by ollyollyoxenfree at 2:30 AM on October 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


A concern troll is a troll whose modus operandi is in the form of "I'm concerned that [group being trolled] is harming themselves by [action]", where [action] is something that the troll doesn't want because his/her sympathies are actually against [group being trolled] and [action] is perceived by the troll as being beneficial to [group being trolled].
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:33 AM on October 18, 2010 [8 favorites]


srboisvert, I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.
posted by datter at 3:37 AM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Officer Bubbles needs to get a sense of proportion or before you know it there'll be an "Everyone Draw an Officer Bubbles Cartoon" day.
posted by Decani at 3:39 AM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Most police attending protests are hugely outnumbered by protesters. We're talking 3-1 odds here. If I were a police officer present and had to deal with individuals in the crowd deliberately fucking with me and trying to rile the crowd up I'd absolutely smack one about the head if I thought it would settle down the rest. That's what crowd control is about.

Protesting something is fine so long as it's not used as a cover for basically starting a fight with "pigs" who'd probably much rather be at home eating donuts with a nice coffee than standing still in the cold, shitty weather in front of several hundred people angrily chanting something that they themselves might personally agree with, being pelted with stones, petrol bombs, turds and verbal abuse/mockery.

I don't believe either side to be made up of "fascist pigs" or "dirty hippies" but understand that there are different people with differing motivations for being there. I have no interest in this specific example of cops vs. protesting folks but just thought it might help to remind the anti-police people on MeFi that there are in fact two sides to everything and it's probably worth thinking about it rather than just immediately settling down into opposing camps and foisting blame.

If you're at a protest, do yourself a favour and stay behind the defined lines and don't piss the cops about - they will be scared, and they will react if they feel threatened, as would anyone in the same circumstances.
posted by longbaugh at 3:47 AM on October 18, 2010


That's what crowd control is about.

That's not what crowd control is about, expect in 1970's Romania, perhaps.
posted by smoke at 4:01 AM on October 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Are you a serving member of the armed forces or the police?
posted by longbaugh at 4:04 AM on October 18, 2010


Yes, they are totally equivalent. Blowing bubbles in a public place is exactly the same as an authority figure acting like a complete dickbag.

If you want to look at the situation like a rational adult...Yes. Given the context of the situation, Their actions were equivalent. They were standing on opposite sides of a predetermined line of engagement, trying to provoke each other to cross the line. It's a game that over the years has become really stupid and tiresome. As someone who wants to see real social and economic justice in the world, I find the reduction of that cause to these sort of childish stunts to be deplorable.

But hey, keep fighting the "pigs" with your bubbles, man. There's a dimly lit bunker somewhere in the dark jungles of East Oppressedistan, where the freedom fighters are raising black gloved fists of solidarity and waving the blood soaked flag of rebellion...or maybe they're just waiting for the cable guy to show up and install their internet so they can download System of a Down mp3's and upload snarky youtube videos.
posted by billyfleetwood at 4:07 AM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's a little one-sided there billyfleetwood. It's really not "pigs" vs "hippies/anarchists".
posted by longbaugh at 4:13 AM on October 18, 2010


What are the libel laws in Canada like, anyway? I would think it'd be hella difficult to sue a YouTube commenter for defamation, because isn't there an exception for opinion? Unless one of the commentators was saying, "I know this guy in real life, and he's a Nazi," or something, every other comment along the lines of "wow, what a d-bag," would seem to be opinion and protected. But I have no real understanding of Candian defamation law. Are y'all as backward on thsi kind of thing as the motherland?
posted by Diablevert at 4:15 AM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Simply put, cops arrest street medics whenever they find them, on whatever charges they can, to get them off the street - the goal isn't conviction, but the obvious and temporary removal.

I personally watched the WTO "riot" unfold here in Seattle, just over a decade ago, in which street medics attempted to help not just protestors, but random friggin' bystanders hit with OC spray and tear gas, only to be beaten & arrested for doing so.

It's not just street medics, either. Seattle tried to outlaw gas masks, as an "emergency order," just before the WTO event. For obvious reasons, the case was tossed out - but one reason should stand out. In 4 out of 5 cases prosecuted under the "emergency order," the only charge against the defendant was that they had a gas mask.

If you're at a protest, do yourself a favour and stay behind the defined lines and don't piss the cops about - they will be scared, and they will react if they feel threatened, as would anyone in the same circumstances.

Not a chance. Why? Who decides the "defined lines?" Whenever Dubya came to town, the "defined lines" of the ironically-named "free speech zones" were typically a third of a mile or more away from any actual event - not because of a threat, but because police were specifically ordered to keep anti-Bush protesters away from the event. Pro-Bush supporters, however, were allowed to attend the event. Bill Neel and Brett Bursey are good examples of that.

During the WTO "riot", the cops repeatedly established "safe areas" - places where folks could congregate - and when folks complied, the cops then rushed the areas for the purpose of dispersal and arrest. This isn't about "cops are afraid for their lives" - in a multiple-day fracas involving thousands of people, 55 police officers reported only minor injuries, and almost all of them were related to OC and tear gas exposure. Hundreds of protestors were exposed to OC and tear gas, wooden bullets

The "if we don't cordon off and control the situation, the protestors will seriously injure or kill us" myth is just that, pushed to rationalize the draconian tactics used in such situations. I don't care how "scared" you are, if you're firing rubber bullets into seated, non-violent, restrained protestors, you're no longer functioning as a cop.
posted by FormlessOne at 4:30 AM on October 18, 2010 [18 favorites]


The "pig" reference was responding to this comment.
posted by billyfleetwood at 4:30 AM on October 18, 2010


But hey, keep fighting the "pigs" with your bubbles, man. There's a dimly lit bunker somewhere in the dark jungles of East Oppressedistan, where the freedom fighters are raising black gloved fists of solidarity and waving the blood soaked flag of rebellion...or maybe they're just waiting for the cable guy to show up and install their internet so they can download System of a Down mp3's and upload snarky youtube videos.

Well, at least you've given up the charade of "I'm not a troll, really."
posted by FormlessOne at 4:32 AM on October 18, 2010 [7 favorites]


longbaugh: just thought it might help to remind the anti-police people on MeFi that there are in fact two sides to everything

One side which is heavily armed, and the other which has bubbles.
posted by metagnathous at 4:42 AM on October 18, 2010 [26 favorites]


FormlessOne - I'm referring here specifically to UK-based policing and protesting (the only sort I'm familiar with) and I've no positive comment to make with regards to the militarisation of US police. In the UK, our PSUs are required to face odds that would make most people shit themselves in fear. 5-1 odds are fairly common and they are armed with (at best) some PAVA spray, a wooden baton and a tiny plexiglass shield and helmet. They don't do rubber bullets any more (outside of specialist firearms units), nor do they do CS gas rounds or or water cannon. They face rocks, molotovs and a crowd that could absolutely mow them down in seconds if it were so inclined.

Anyone remember the photographs we had on MeFi this years of the riots in where firearms-wielding police were overrun by large groups of protesters? Large numbers can easily overrun "better" armed/armoured groups very easily and the officers are aware of this - hence "crowd control" and intimidation tactics. We might not agree with the reasoning behind it but I think if we were in their shoes we'd rightly pull out ringleaders for a clout or arrest for incitement.

Here's the G20 liveblogging thread where you can review the circumstances from the time.

Apologies billyfleetwood - I should have picked that up from the first paragraph.
posted by longbaugh at 4:47 AM on October 18, 2010


Trying and failing to think of a better word for a cop who abuses his power than "pig". Oink!
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 4:48 AM on October 18, 2010


"They face rocks, molotovs and a crowd that could absolutely mow them down in seconds if it were so inclined."

Yeah, those are riots dude, Officer Bubblecock was at a protest. But have at it.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 4:52 AM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, at least you've given up the charade of "I'm not a troll, really."

Please read my actual comments. I'm giving my opinion on the subject of the post, which would be the "bubbles" video, which I find to misleadingly edited , and counterproductive to any real discussion of the subject at hand. I disagree with the strategy of arrests as a form of crowd control. Which is why the bubble blower found herself in custody. But that's not what the video insinuates. It insinuates she was arrested for blowing bubbles. She wasn't. All the officer did was put on his mean voice and tell her to cut it out. And she did. He looked like an asshole, and so did she.

The arrests, while ridiculous, were carried out orderly, and from what I could tell without any undue force. Anybody who knows anything knows that actions such as those are not decided by the police on the line, but part of an overall course of action decided much higher up the chain of command. And it's an interesting discussion as to the causes of and reactions to decisions like that. But we're never going to have that discussion as long as people immediately get on their "fuck the pigs" soapbox and pretend like this was just some random girl blowing bubbles in the park when the fascist police showed up en masse to go upside her head. I think that attitude is juvenile, and reserve the right to respond to it with a bit of mockery.
posted by billyfleetwood at 4:53 AM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Probably why I didn't direct a specific comment at "Officer Bubblecock" and "Little Ms Bubbles" then, yeah? I was trying to be specific when describing my experience. Feel free to read what I've written next time.

Protests descend into riots when not successfully controlled. Reading that G20 thread shows what the police had to deal with - why not have a look?
posted by longbaugh at 4:55 AM on October 18, 2010


"Protests descend into riots when not successfully controlled."

No, not true, they turn into riots when cops start cracking heads. But that's only protests I've been to, and there really has to be rather a lot of head cracking before the rioting really kicks off. In your alternate reality police are gently ushering people to comfortable seats and pointing out water fountains and public restrooms and then are suddenly viciously attacked? Sounds harsh.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 5:01 AM on October 18, 2010


What's the point in discussing something with someone who refuses to read what has been written in response?

So you know what? You're right, man. You win. You're the best. Well done. Enjoy your prize.
posted by longbaugh at 5:07 AM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


The constable is really jerking it up. If protesters use bubbles as a form of creating mayhem, then the world is probably pretty safe. The idea of bubble-blowing as a cause of rioting is patently absurd. Nothing is out of control except Officer Bubbles' attitude. I've been to protests where the police have an attitude of respect and cooperation, recognizing the right of protesters to speak and assemble, and protesters respect the need for safety and order. Fortunately, no one was armed with bubbles, so rioting didn't ensue.

The other constable clearly recognizes the behavior as classic jackassery, and, in the way of cops everywhere, does nothing except show some chagrin.
posted by theora55 at 5:23 AM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


"What's the point in discussing something with someone who refuses to read what has been written in response?"

Wow, I guess I don't have to read what you want me to, nor do you have to watch all the videos on Youtube showing cops clearly teargassing, tazing and beating people. In fact, don't do that, or go to any protests, because you'll only end up like me.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 5:26 AM on October 18, 2010


Enjoy your echo chamber.
posted by longbaugh at 5:42 AM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


*blows bubbles*
posted by waraw at 6:11 AM on October 18, 2010


Before now, I didn't know who Officer Bubbles was, but now I know, and now I know he's yelling at me. If he had just kept his head low, he might not be internet famous, but now he'll have to threaten to arrest everybody in the entire world now. ONE MORE STUNT LIKE THAT OFFICER BUBBLES AND YOU'RE OFF THE FORCE - OR YOU'LL GET A PROMOTION... EITHER WAY, YOU'LL BE IN TROUBLE!

He's a loose bubble-cannon.
posted by fuq at 6:27 AM on October 18, 2010


"I'd absolutely smack one about the head if I thought it would settle down the rest. That's what crowd control is about."

That absolutely would not work. In not one case ever in all of human history has anything remotely like this approach ever worked the "settle down the rest". Not ever.

I have no idea why anyone thinks it would.

It is however, a rationalization for the lizard brained urge to physically attack people, establish dominance the old school, cro-magnon way.

Officer Bubbles was upset because the bubble girl wasn't afraid of him. So he tried to instill fear in her - and did. Upon further reflection of the situation, what he did to bubble girl fits the legal description of assault here in the U.S. You don't have to touch anyone for it to be assault. (He knows this, and was legally correct in warning bubble girl that what she was doing could be considered assault.) But he wasn't really interested in the bubbles. He wanted to "correct her attitude". He wanted her to be cowed, and afraid. Not because he was in danger, but because he is a massive asshole with psychological issues. He assaulted her.

I finally found the video I wanted to reference earlier. This is how these things should be handled.
posted by Xoebe at 6:35 AM on October 18, 2010 [21 favorites]


The other officer was bemused by the bubbles and was not reacting in any way. Her behaviour was very appropriate.

Apart from pointing out the assholery of Bubble Cop - and he was being an asshole - we should be pointing to her going "see, this is how to react to this kind of situation"

Officer Bubbles was freaking out over soap bubbles. Seriously. How is that in any way threatening? Its not. Please. As a form of 'protest', it ranks slightly above just standing there.
posted by sandraregina at 7:07 AM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


It would be pretty funny if everyone in Toronto started calling 911 to report bubble assaults, demanding the police show up and file a report.

No it really, really wouldn't be.
posted by rollbiz at 7:15 AM on October 18, 2010


I'd absolutely smack one about the head if I thought it would settle down the rest.
....they will be scared, and they will react if they feel threatened, as would anyone in the same circumstances.


But that's the thing -- if you hire someone to do crowd control, you kind of hope they know something about crowd control. So you expect that they know that smacking a protester isn't going to do anything to calm things down. And you expect they know that if they feel themselves getting angry, they shouldn't give in to that anger. And they should have enough training to know be able to act rationally even if they are afraid.

Some people aren't cut out for that -- I'm probably not, for example -- and Officer Bubbles definitely isn't. He is radiating anger in that video, and he is acting out of anger, rather than trying to control the situation. Compare his behavior to the behavior of the cop beside him -- she looks outwardly calm, she seems to be trying to engage, and she's not losing her shit because someone is blowing freaking bubbles at her. In a way it's a good thing that this happened -- it's scary to imagine how Officer Bubbles would react if he were in some kind of real crisis.

The Toronto police are getting a lot of bad press because they deserve it. It's unfortunate that so much of it is directed at Officer Bubbles rather than the police and government administration that set the policy, conducted the training, and decided on how to handle the protests. Looking at some of the other video makes it pretty clear that many of the cops are escalating the potential for violence rather than diffusing it. If that was a policy decision, then there should be an investigation and that policy should see the light of day. If it was poor training and poor selection of cops, then that also needs to be addressed.

On preview, what sandraregina said.
posted by Killick at 7:20 AM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Xoebe - I myself have stopped a group of people threatening myself and others by applying violence to one of the group. That would be one example. I know that's facetious and you weren't really stating that this was impossible but yeah, this is actually something that is done in crowd control training. It's also entirely legal for an officer of the law to defend themselves if someone is acting in a threatening manner.

You may not think it would work because you've may never been in a situation that has warranted that action. I honestly don't know. If that is the case then you are very lucky. I can absolutely assure you (as I am sure many other folks can) that the use of violence can work to reduce the threat of increased amounts of violence in certain circumstances.

Imagine you are a front line PSU/Riot officer and someone has a bottle of clear liquid and is threatening to splash you with it. This could be gasoline or any other number of fluids that could cause harm to you or others. Do you allow them to continue to do so or do you apply violence to stop them? It's not the first step but it absolutely is one that can be used on the escalation of force ladder if the situation warrants it.

I'm not apologising for every time a copper has hit a protester. I'm not even commenting on this specific incident other than that both parties were asses, just saying that perhaps allowing only one specific point of view serves no beneficial purpose. Try and understand what police officers have to deal with and why they act in that fashion. Maybe speak to one?

I'm not trying to single anyone out here but what would be lovely for MeFi is not immediately jumping into one camp or another and maybe seeking out the experience and company of those whom you might not normally do so. I have found many new friends outside these blue pages working in the Army, Police, NHS etc and find that my understanding has increased and my worldview has only gotten more complex as I have done so. It's extremely interesting to speak to others who fulfil roles we would not dare do and communication across the barriers we set up can only make it better for everyone concerned.
posted by longbaugh at 7:22 AM on October 18, 2010


The cop was a dick about it but gave her the opportunity to stop. He warned her, right? She knew what she doing and what was likely going to happen. I'm not trying to defend Officer Bubbles at all but isn't her arrest probably the outcome she was looking for? She was ready for it and had her bandana and lawyers name, so it shouldn't have come as a surprise.
posted by jeffmik at 7:24 AM on October 18, 2010


ollyollyoxenfree: ""What cause was bubble girl there to stand up for? Bubble rights? I see no evidence from that video that she stood for anything besides provoking police officers ... As far as I'm concerned ... As far as I'm concerned ... "

Thanks for the concern, concern troll.

"As far as I'm concerned the whole thing has become a pointless and stupid game that makes everyone involved look foolish."

Yes, they are totally equivalent. Blowing bubbles in a public place is exactly the same as an authority figure acting like a complete dickbag.
"

What the fuck are you going on about here? "Concern troll"?
Is this something that I'd have to be thirteen years-old to get?
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:34 AM on October 18, 2010


Officer Bubbles. Meet Officer Snowball.
posted by ericb at 7:54 AM on October 18, 2010


By concentrating on small sideshows like this, we miss the bigger picture that mass protest is now viewed as a fringe activity and that it's OK to police it heavily. (the exceptions being political rallies, I guess) The net result is that these protests too often end up being more of a tactical battle between protest "professionals" and the police, and less an expression of dissatisfaction by the general public.

For me the proof of this is that protests are no longer commonplace, they're only laid on for special events, and after the event, the protests dwindle.

Guess we're too well-fed and comfortable to protest much anymore. Hell, it's a chore to get most people to vote...
posted by Artful Codger at 7:55 AM on October 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


I thought the CanPol blog, "The Volunteer" summed it up rather nicely: "Constable Adam Josephs of the Toronto Police Services is an asshole. Not just any asshole. But a special kind of asshole. The kind of asshole who acts like a total asshole, then asserts his right to be an asshole without actually being ridiculed for being an asshole. In fact, he feels so strongly that he has a right not to be subjected to public ridicule for being an asshole that he has taken to suing YouTube for being the conduit of such ridicule. He is also demanding those who produced cartoons mocking him, under the moniker 'Officer Bubbles have their names produced such that he can sue them too."

Here.

He probably also got a complaint from his sunglasses manufacturer that while they at first were excited by thinking the product placement would have sales spinoffs, the "Officer Bubbles" link totally made them icky laughing-stockwear.
posted by Mike D at 7:57 AM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


If the police were really concerned about riots, they wouldn't be sending in undercover cops dressed as masked protesters and, you know, try to incite a riot.
posted by ryoshu at 7:59 AM on October 18, 2010 [7 favorites]


PS... srboisvert wins by looking beyond the emotion to the science:

"I can totally understand how someone could lose it in the presence of bubbles. Those things just radiate tension in every direction."
posted by Mike D at 8:04 AM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


What cause was bubble girl there to stand up for?

What cause was flower girls / boys there to stand up for during Vietnam war protests?
posted by ericb at 8:16 AM on October 18, 2010


Constable Adam Josephs seems to be a bit of a sooky baby.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:31 AM on October 18, 2010


notion: "Yes, thoughtcrime is doubleplusungood. Wordcrime is tripleplusungood."

This is a common misconception of "conspiracy to commit". In almost all jurisdictions, an overt act on the part of one of the conspirators is required for the accusation of conspiracy. For instance, if you and I plan on robbing a bank, and I'm the getaway driver and you get arrested while in the bank, I'm guilty of conspiracy.

I know nothing of her actions or the crimes she's accused of, I just don't like seeing people assume "conspiracy to commit" is thoughtcrime.
posted by Plutor at 8:36 AM on October 18, 2010


Constable Josephs, meet Barbera Streisand.

Honey, it's Barbra. ; )
posted by ericb at 8:48 AM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm trying and failing to come up with a better metaphor for misdirected impotent rage than someone trying to sue into silence anonymous internet people who made fun of him for getting furious over bubbles.

You win Officer Bubbles. Your prize is memedom.
posted by quin at 8:49 AM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Officer Bubbles Statement of Claim [Scribd].

Some of the comments he claims are defamatory:
"true -- probably wears the sunglasses while looking at himself in the mirror!!!"

"officer bubbles probably looks at himself in the mirror a lot."

"It's a shame that the police are becoming uniformed bullies. It's bad when the local people tell them to leave their community."

"Nice going Officer Josephs, you are a real hero and a true testament to the sorry state of law enforcemtn here in Canada, and a fine example of the kind of policing peaceful people had to endure during the G20 farce."
posted by ericb at 8:50 AM on October 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


street medic

I'M FLORONCE NOGHTONGOLE HURRRRRR
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:57 AM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Josephs' lawyer, James Zibarras:
"'From our client's perspective, he was performing his duty as a police officer in what was an extremely volatile time at the summit,' said Const. Josephs' lawyer, James Zibarras.

While he said Const. Josephs' actions at the summit can be subject to criticism, 'that reaction had this massive backlash that we say is disproportionate and incommensurate to what happened, and started getting to the point where it included threats.'"
posted by ericb at 8:57 AM on October 18, 2010


Officer Bubbles is a douche-bag who accurately represents the idiocy I saw on the streets during the Toronto G20.

52 Division is a pretty corrupt lot; I used to work in the Eton Centre in downtown Toronto and observed the 52 div. pigs getting 'staff' discounts numerous times simply because they came in their uniforms.
posted by dazed_one at 9:48 AM on October 18, 2010


I'm not trying to single anyone out here but what would be lovely for MeFi is not immediately jumping into one camp or another and maybe seeking out the experience and company of those whom you might not normally do so. I have found many new friends outside these blue pages working in the Army, Police, NHS etc and find that my understanding has increased and my worldview has only gotten more complex as I have done so.

Do you also have friends who participate in black bloc actions?

I'm sure being a riot cop on the wrong side of a rowdy protest is scary and difficult, and escalation of force may sometimes seem like the best way to contain a crowd. But we've seen cops overreact to protesters over and over and over again. It's pretty clear at this point that cops feel entitled to behave that way -- they do it not just frequently, but routinely and systematically. Consider "Beat the Crowds" commemorative DNC T-shirts. Consider the fact that at the anti-Olympic protests in Vancouver, the riot cops showed up without badge numbers (no reason to do that unless you want to be able to violate rights with impunity). Those aren't the actions of individual officers trying to make tough decisions in the heat of the moment; they are evidence of a police culture that considers the violation of protesters' rights, up to and including beatings, to be normal and acceptable.

If people are defaulting to a suspicious and critical attitude towards the cops in these situations, it's because their own actions time after time have shown that we should be suspicious and critical.
posted by twirlip at 10:04 AM on October 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Try and understand what police officers have to deal with and why they act in that fashion. Maybe speak to one?

See, that's just the thing. Police officers are paid to "deal with" difficult situations, and job one of that "dealing with" is staying composed and acting professionally, or so every cop I've ever known has told me. Police are not owed special sympathy or obsequious deference from civilians -- quite the opposite, in fact. If the point of a police force -- as opposed to a paramilitary security force, which is generally the way they like to run G20 events -- is to serve and protect the public, then there's no reason why the public should have too be servile in their relationship with the police. Police officers receive more than adequate compensation for what they have to "deal with" -- not so much their salary but their authority, status, and power. What amazes me most about Officer Bubbles is that he so clearly feels that the power and prestige that his badge represents -- and that he abused so flagrantly -- are not nearly as much as he deserves.
posted by a small part of the world at 10:26 AM on October 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


Xoebe - I myself have stopped a group of people threatening myself and others by applying violence to one of the group.

I, for one, believe you. I also believe that you can turn invisible when no one is looking, and that you have at 12-inch penis.
posted by coolguymichael at 11:48 AM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Granted, he maybe could have done so in a less dickheaded manner, but things could have turned out A lot worse.

And for some, they did.
posted by homunculus at 12:12 PM on October 18, 2010


what would be lovely for MeFi is not immediately jumping into one camp or another and maybe seeking out the experience and company of those whom you might not normally do so. I have found many new friends outside these blue pages working in the Army, Police, NHS etc and find that my understanding has increased and my worldview has only gotten more complex as I have done so. It's extremely interesting to speak to others who fulfil roles we would not dare do and communication across the barriers we set up can only make it better for everyone concerned.

What would be lovely for MeFi would be you recognizing that you are not the only person here who knows people in the military and law enforcement. Hell, I'd bet money that there are MeFites who are people in the military (current or former) and law enforcement.
posted by Lexica at 12:39 PM on October 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


I tend to mock activist protest marchers for being ineffective (and often smug) wastes of time, but that doesn't mean I'm not taking their sides over Miami Model riot cops seven days a week.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:24 PM on October 18, 2010


That's what crowd control is about.

No , this is what crowd control is about.

Take a look at the expression on the face of the female officer who was actually closest to those "dangerous" bubbles you characterize as inciteful of riot. At first, she is laughing, but pretty soon she becomes embarrassed by the inflammatory and aggressive behavior of her fellow law enforcement officer.

There is no law against blowing bubbles, and this moron's reaction to his public exposure as a power-mad prick demonstrates his level of self-control, which is pretty much non-existent. Any case will be thrown out, as truth is a defense against libel.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 1:46 PM on October 18, 2010


Well riot police usually tend to overreact, but let's not pretend that everyone at these protests come just to share an opinion.

If the protesters do not police themselves in some ways and allow looters/vandalizers to run free then I don't really know why they don't expect the riot police to come down hard.
posted by Allan Gordon at 1:56 PM on October 18, 2010


billyfleetwood: "But that officer did not create the situation, nor was he the one who crafted the official response to the situation. "

Yes he did. Officer Bubbles created the entire situation all by himself. If you read witness accounts you'll find out that the girl was actually having a conversation with the female officer about whether the bubble-blowing was OK, to which the officer was responding in the affirmative. This is when Officer Bubbles actually walked over from some distance away and decided to have a problem with it. This is where the video begins, when Officer Bubbles start sticking his dick into other peoples' business.
posted by rhizome at 1:57 PM on October 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


If the protesters do not police themselves in some ways and allow looters/vandalizers to run free

But the problem here, in this specific incident, which this officer is so rightfully embarrased about now, is that looters and vandalizers were not running free. You are not allowed to arrest people because of something that someone else might do, or because of what other people have done in other places in the past. That is not how a free and democratic society is supposed to operate. This business of mass arrest, and the subsequent dropping of all charges after the fact is borderline fascism. Condoning it is abhorrent.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 2:05 PM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


This business of mass arrest, and the subsequent dropping of all charges after the fact is borderline fascism.

I wouldn't go that far, I'd say it's just another example of the laziness that police (in the US and, perhaps evidently, Canada) have become accustomed to.
posted by rhizome at 2:14 PM on October 18, 2010


What would be lovely for MeFi would be you recognizing that you are not the only person here who knows people in the military and law enforcement.

And not only this- it shouldn't matter if I do or don't know people in the military or law enforcement. As a citizen and a resident of Toronto, I have a right to criticize the police who are employees of my city, and to hold them accountable according to the standards of a civil, democratic society.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:15 PM on October 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


I wouldn't go that far, I'd say it's just another example of the laziness that police (in the US and, perhaps evidently, Canada) have become accustomed to.

I'd characterize laziness in a law-enforcement officer as not ironing their uniform properly, or leaving their lunch bag in a patrol car. Willfully arresting someone, handcuffing them, and throwing them in jail with the full knowledge that they have broken no law goes beyond "laziness" in my opinion.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 2:43 PM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


it shouldn't matter if I do or don't know people in the military or law enforcement.

To be sure, this is just an anti-intellectual rhetorical device akin to the One True Scotsman. First you have to have been there, then you have to know military/police in order to understand ("you don't even know what they go through"), then you'll have to be a law-enforcement officer to understand (hard/dangerous job, etc.), after which you'll have to be the right kind of police officer to understand ("oh, you guys in vice only ever have to look at porn"). After all this, you have to contend with "but what if there was a dirty bomb or something?" The justifications are endless, and minimum standards of behavior are nonexistent or unenforced.
posted by rhizome at 2:45 PM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Just out of curiosity... Why doesn't the G8/G20/Gwhatever meet a bit more discretely, rather than cordoning off hundreds of blocks of a major world metropolis just so a few hundred bureaucrats can chitchat and pad their expense accounts?

Offhand, I can think of two reasons, neither all that optimistic. One, they want to rub it in our faces that this group of rich white men (which despite my posting history, I say without a trace of sarcasm) pretty much control the world... Or Two, as a distraction for the real meeting(s) held somewhere far less obvious and out of the public's watchful eye.

Seriously - Either bait, or blatantly antagonizing the public. Any other real purpose would only benefit from more subtlety.
posted by pla at 6:45 PM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yes he did. Officer Bubbles created the entire situation all by himself. If you read witness accounts you'll find out that the girl was actually having a conversation with the female officer about whether the bubble-blowing was OK, to which the officer was responding in the affirmative. This is when Officer Bubbles actually walked over from some distance away and decided to have a problem with it. This is where the video begins, when Officer Bubbles start sticking his dick into other peoples' business.

Yes, he's responsible for the bubble situation, which was part of a larger situation that provided the context for the interaction. And yes, he was being a total dick. Nobody is arguing that fact. At this point my only frustration with this entire conversation is the willful exaggeration of his actions to fit some larger narrative of police oppression and brutality. That exaggeration starts with the video which was deliberately edited to be misleading, and continues here in quite a few claims that don't speak to the truth of the situation.

It's real easy to drum up righteous indignation at the police for their offenses against society, large or small(and this one was very, very small). I'm frankly disappointed at how many people here are unwilling or unable to realize the the "protest culture" that has arisen as a counter has become increasingly ineffective, and in my eyes, unwanted and counterproductive to the real work that needs to be done to achieve social and economic justice in this world.

As someone who sees himself on the side of the people, I don't look at that video and see the officers actions. They're barely worth more than a giggle and a bit of snark. But the bubble blowing girl is a useless asshole as far as I'm concerned, and whoever put that video together and labeled it "real news" is a lying asshole. So now, out of 4 participants we have 3 assholes and only one person who comported themselves like a responsible adult.

The other police officer. Which really doesn't do much for any narrative of police malfeasance in this situation.
posted by billyfleetwood at 6:57 PM on October 18, 2010


At this point my only frustration with this entire conversation is the willful exaggeration of his actions to fit some larger narrative of police oppression and brutality.

You're right, an officer getting angry at someone blowing bubbles doesn't really support a larger narrative of police brutality. I guess it's not worth talking about then.
posted by chrominance at 9:40 PM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Though, regarding the comment on "protest culture" being ineffective, I definitely agree—whatever authorities protesters oppose have figured out effective ways of routing around and neutralizing protests. Any discussion of protests in the media centers on the rights of the protesters to protest versus the rights of those in power to control and squash protests; nowhere is there any real discussion of the issues the protests are supposed to be about.
posted by chrominance at 9:44 PM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I guess it's not worth talking about then.

Who said it's not worth talking about? I personally was just trying to have a discussion about the topic as framed by the incident that serves as the subject of the post. I completely abhor police brutality in all forms, yet I made and still stand by the charge that on the other side of the lines, the side that stands for peace and justice, there are a lot of people, both participants and supporters who are not completely honest about their goals, motivations and behavior in respect to these "protests". I'm not saying that's the whole argument in regards to the issue, but it has a place in the discussion.
posted by billyfleetwood at 11:32 PM on October 18, 2010


"I wouldn't go that far, I'd say it's just another example of the laziness that police (in the US and, perhaps evidently, Canada) have become accustomed to."

You are aware that police and security forces have specialist advisors and months of planning before these events, right? And that they're looking for the most cost-effective ways to do the right thing, which is to support the government. A government, as it happens, that doesn't have a problem with force artfully applied to support its goals.

I can't believe that laziness is an excuse for the police, and I don't think we should give them that option.
posted by sneebler at 12:15 AM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't understand the girl's explanation that she was targeted because she was wearing a backpack and had a lawyer's number on her arm. That makes even less sense to me than the bubbles. Huh?
posted by Omnomnom at 6:36 AM on October 19, 2010


Omnomnom, it doesn't need to be justified, or make any sense, in the minds of the police. They have their orders, and their orders are to disrupt the protests. The completely arbitrary and illegal prohibition against backpacks is used by the police as an excuse for arrest, who argue that it's possible to conceal weapons such as rocks in backpacks. It doesn't matter to the police, Harper, or Canadian voters apparently, if there actually were any weapons in them. They will arrest you merely for having one, even though no crime has been committed. She was there to act as a medic, and the police specifically seek to remove medics from the crowd, as they are deemed to be trouble-makers in these situations. This is preemptive policing, and likely unconstitutional. This is why no charges are subsequently laid, as they wouldn't stand up in court. Thought crime indeed.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:32 AM on October 19, 2010


billyfleetwood: "I completely abhor police brutality in all forms"

That's nice, but this isn't a case of brutality, it's one of abuse of power. The rest of your massive run-on sentence is conspiracy stuff that doesn't speak to the issue at hand. If you're trying to say that you suspect that there are peace activists who wouldn't mind if police officers were murdered (or something like that), well then good on ya. Kind of a derail, tho.
posted by rhizome at 10:39 AM on October 19, 2010


But the bubble blowing girl is a useless asshole as far as I'm concerned, and whoever put that video together and labeled it "real news" is a lying asshole. So now, out of 4 participants we have 3 assholes and only one person who comported themselves like a responsible adult.

Of the three "assholes," two of them were doing innocuous stuff like blowing bubbles and making videos, and one of them was a cop who lost his shit and threatened to throw someone in jail for doing basically nothing wrong (not to mention suing people who made fun of him on the internet). The consequences of the cop's actions were and are potentially much more serious than any imaginable consequences of the bubble-blowing and video-making. On top of that, we quite rightly hold cops to a higher standard of behavior than ordinary folks, because of the power that cops have in our society.

You want to argue that protest tactics and protest culture are ineffective? Fine. Hell, I'm an anarchist and I agree with you on that. But what you're actually doing is equating two completely different levels of assholery, and that's not okay.
posted by twirlip at 10:42 AM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


billyfleetwood: "At this point my only frustration with this entire conversation is the willful exaggeration of his actions to fit some larger narrative of police oppression and brutality."

Isn't the officer the one who is exaggerating? That is the oppression and brutality. He can make an issue of BUBBLES because he can and he knows there will be absolutely no repercussions (from the force, at least). That is a definition of abuse right there.

I'm not trying to be fighty, but you seem to be preoccupied with some imagined real reasons behind everybody's actions except the police officer's. Funny, that.
posted by rhizome at 10:52 AM on October 19, 2010


sneebler: "I can't believe that laziness is an excuse for the police, and I don't think we should give them that option."

It's not an excuse and nobody is giving them that option, it's a statement of fact. If you don't like it, change the training regimes for new officers. The officers in this video are not party to the months of planning, they were probably just told a couple of weeks ago that they were going to be needed and to be at place X at time Y.

Furthermore, the police know better than to use "laziness" as an excuse. There are phrases used in law that speak to this, and you'll be able to tell what they're hiding behind by the statutory constructions they use in the explanations for what happened.
posted by rhizome at 11:06 AM on October 19, 2010


Hey, thanks PareidoliaticBoy. Why are medics thought to be troublemakers?
posted by Omnomnom at 12:02 PM on October 19, 2010


Medics at G20 protests speak out against police brutality
"The Toronto Street Medics is an independent organization of volunteers with various levels of health training. We provided preventative health services and first aid to protesters and bystanders.

We gave out water and sunscreen, but we also dealt with severe injuries. All of the serious injuries we treated were inflicted by the police. While violence against property received a great deal of coverage, violence against people -- broken bones, cracked heads and eyes filled with pepper spray - has yet to feature prominently in any mainstream media. Our teams of medics witnessed and treated people who had been struck in the head by police batons, had lacerations from police shields and had been trampled by police horses.

Street Medics faced barriers in many instances. We witnessed people being seriously injured behind police lines who could not be assisted. Our concern for these individuals is immense. Several medics were detained by police and intimidated, despite identifying themselves. Medical equipment, such as gauze, band aids and gloves, was confiscated. We were intimidated and made to feel that what we were doing was illegal. In fact, we were simply providing first-aid.”
posted by ericb at 12:47 PM on October 19, 2010


"Sarah Reaburn spoke on behalf of Toronto Street Medics, a small group that trained about 100 volunteers to provide first aid to injured demonstrators.

Reaburn, a nurse and counsellor at the Hassle Free Clinic, alleged that street medics were targeted and harassed by police as they tried to provide first aid. Several, including an EMS worker, were detained. One faces multiple charges, she said, including possession of a concealed weapon for carrying bandage shears.

Reaburn said the volunteers prepared for 'extremely challenging situations' but did not anticipate the seriousness of the 'hundreds' of injuries they faced, including broken arms, lacerations from riot shields and a shattered finger.

Reaburn said she was cut while giving first aid. She also treated a young man with a head injury who was showing symptoms of shock after being hit by a police baton.

'Despite numerous requests of police to assist us in transferring him, we were unable to get him transferred to EMS,' she said. 'I ended up transferring him with assistance on a sandwich board, which we had taken from a store, and then we loaded him on the back of a vegetable truck' to get him to an ambulance.

The medics continue their work, helping arrested individuals retrieve medication that disappeared during their detention." *
posted by ericb at 12:50 PM on October 19, 2010


I don't understand the girl's explanation that she was targeted because she was wearing a backpack and had a lawyer's number on her arm. That makes even less sense to me than the bubbles. Huh?

The backpack's been covered, but part of the current model of protest policing is to make mass arrests, lock people up for a few days in (often illegally substandard) temporary jails without any contact with the outside world, and then release them, generally malnourished and dehydrated, without charges. If somebody's got the number for a lawyer on her arm, the cops want her in those mass jails ASAP so that she can't get access to a telephone and call that lawyer to make trouble.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:41 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Medics are considered to be trouble-makers by the authorities because they can render assistance to the injured. The entrenched powers can't allow that to happen; or the effects of violence and force from them is reduced. You can also bet that the medics who were beat and incarcerated for rendering medical assistance will think long and hard about attending any further protests, as well.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 4:16 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


twirlip:You want to argue that protest tactics and protest culture are ineffective? Fine. Hell, I'm an anarchist and I agree with you on that. But what you're actually doing is equating two completely different levels of assholery, and that's not okay.

I do have more than one comment in this thread (too many, really) and the later ones are more a mishmash of responses to comments and attempts at discussing responses to the video more than the video itself. If I wasn't clear, I apologize. The only equating I was trying to do was equating some of the hyperbolic responses here to the misleading editing of the video. There are plenty of examples of horrific police behavior that will send me into a frothing rage, but I happened to see something else in this video. Tried to bring it up, got yelled at a lot, but I still think it's an interesting conversation.

rhizome:I'm not trying to be fighty, but you seem to be preoccupied with some imagined real reasons behind everybody's actions except the police officer's. Funny, that.

As I've stated, I've made many comments in this thread. I don't think any of them can be read as excusing or accepting the officer's behavior. I'm not imagining anything. I think this video points to a growing dishonesty on the side of those who supposedly stand for justice, and I think a lot of the responses here prove that point. That's not "conspiracy stuff" and I don't even know where you got that whole "wanting people to be murdered" thing from because i said nothing even closely resembling that, and yes I write in run-on sentences, and sometimes put commas in the wrong place, but last I checked, I wasn't being graded on grammar, and nobody here is my 7th grade english teacher, so tough apples.

I've been around here long enough that any thread involving police misconduct quickly turns into a big "fuck the police" jerk off session. I happened to think this video was just silly enough and so obviously edited to be misleading, that there might have been a window to bring up how ridiculous and dishonest protest culture is becoming.
posted by billyfleetwood at 6:30 PM on October 19, 2010


I get your point about the editing, billyfleewood. I generally admire and respect your point of view, however in this specific case, I guess that we 'll just have to agree to disagree. And yes, a lot of those protesters are nothing more than professional trouble-makers. That said, in this specific instance, I think that your analysis is weighted too far toward that viewpoint. There really was no reason for that officer to behave as he did. Listen to his tone of voice. Look at the veins in his neck. It was all he could to keep himself from assaulting that woman. In the absence of cameras, my supposition is that he likely would have done so. That is one really, really, angry man there. He has no business carrying a badge and a gun under those conditions.

He lost control of his objectivity, and his subsequent embarrassment about his behavior, which is what brought this to our attention, is clear evidence that he recognizes that this behavior was entirely inappropriate. This man simply can not contol his emotions. He demonstrably allows his anger to influence his decision-making process, his interactions with others, and how he presents himself to the general public. Allowing his personal issues to impact so negatively on the public's perception of the police force he represents is badly impacting his job performance in a very negative manner, and yet he continues to act like 3 year old who doesn't play well with others.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 7:48 PM on October 19, 2010


billyfleetwood: "that there might have been a window to bring up how ridiculous and dishonest protest culture is becoming."

Absolutely, but that's a derail. I've long derided protestors, but you know, once in a while they catalyze something despite their motivations. Something happened here, and what came before is irrelevant (so far). I mean, to speak to their motivations means there's a reasonable explanation for the officer's behavior, but you know...bubbles.
posted by rhizome at 8:23 PM on October 19, 2010


Absolutely, but that's a derail

Ok, I'll stop after this, I've said what I have to say, people disagree, I'm ok with that. But...

It's not a derail. As long as I'm talking about the video itself, and the people in the video, and their actions as shown in the video, and whether or not the video honestly depicts those actions, I'm on topic. You may disagree with my assessment, but there's no rule that says we can only talk about the police officer's behavior. Just because something is caught on camera does not make the truth of it evident. We all bring our biases to these things. PareidoliaticBoy saw a lot more potential for violence in the officers actions than I do. I respect that, and won't argue it, as his view of the video is informed by his life and experiences, just as my view is informed by my experiences.

I mean, to speak to their motivations means there's a reasonable explanation for the officer's behavior, but you know...bubbles.

I disagree. This situation took place during a large protest. These things are not organic random encounters. They are strategized and planned on both sides of the line. It's not out of line to discuss motivations on both sides of the line.
posted by billyfleetwood at 9:02 PM on October 19, 2010


Their motivations are simply inaccessible. I think you're wallowing in deconstruction, though, which will never end. "What about the police officer's parents' life and experiences?" But I'm still waiting for the explanation, any explanation, that renders Bubbles' actions to be reasonable.

And you know what? I bet the protestors were indeed planning on doing just slightly irritating things like blowing bubbles or pointing a wiggling index finger at an officer's waist, saying "I'm gonna tickle youuuuuuu." It's the perfect thing to draw some roid-head out.
posted by rhizome at 8:37 AM on October 20, 2010


After finally watching the video I have to say, are ya'll fuckin kidding me? I haven't seen so much faux "I'm not doing anything wrong" bullshit from a person in quite a while. It's kind of funny, that cop seemed rather polite to me, perhaps I'm a bit too used to NY's Finest. I mean, bullying, for reals? Stern words to a woman acting like she was SO HURT for being told to stop blowing bubbles in the faces of cops is bullying? Lord.
posted by ch1x0r at 7:43 PM on October 20, 2010


Well. It seems pretty bad to him, apparently. He is the one whose actions have been placed under scrutiny. It is he who now wants to suppress any discussion about it . Is this the action of a proud man, doing his job with skill and fairness? He seemingly doesn't think so. To him its not something to boast about. But you're completely fine with it?

It seems normal to you? That she was asking for it? Because blowing bubbles is a dangerous assault ? I'm surprised that he didn't actually pitch an infarction right there, truth be told. If even that no-neck-no-mind's dim-bulb cerebral-cortex could grasp the awful implications of his over-the-top detergent-diatribe as completely inappropriate ... well then ... who better than he to judge just how embarrassing and wrong his behavior really was.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 10:05 PM on October 20, 2010


Its a Detergent, run for your lives!
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 10:45 PM on October 20, 2010


Nearly 100 Toronto officers to be disciplined over G20 summit conduct
posted by homunculus at 1:22 PM on November 5, 2010


Yeah, they're being docked a day's pay. Straight out of "Blazing Saddles."
posted by rhizome at 3:15 PM on November 5, 2010


Interesting that they are being disciplined (barely) for not wearing name tags. The riot cops in Vancouver during the Olympics did the same thing -- no name tags, no badge numbers -- and were never disciplined for it AFAIK. I suspect it's a pretty common tactic. And of course, the only reason they weren't wearing their badges was so they could violate people's rights and get away with it.
posted by twirlip at 9:08 PM on November 5, 2010


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