ROAD to EQUALITY podcast

Episode 6 with Black Lotus (Video, Audio & Transcript)

April 26, 2021





BLACK LOTUS:

Peace. We’re back with another podcast… Edition of Road to Possible, Road to Equality, and… This series, where we’re really focusing on the community and freedom, justice, equality… Let’s get right to it.

So the whole world knows the verdict. We’re finally getting a little bit of closure in the case of brother, George Floyd, and… The question now is, guilty on all three charges, but what about an appeal? When do we ever really get closure in these situations? And as we’ve been discussing, there’s so many other cases where in the public view, public opinion is that these police were guilty, because we have the video, and yet… Charges may or may not be filed. And even if there is a court proceeding, what happens? More often than not, they get off scot-free. So living in a society where this is commonplace… It’s easy to become a little bit apathetic. Like oh yeah, they arrested them, they charged them… But they’re probably going to get off. You know, we assume that justice and, you know, equality, as we’re talking about, will not be something that we’ll be able to have, and… I find that there’s a lot of anxiety that’s taking place in the world today, especially with the lockdown situations all around the world because of this virus, and so with all these things going on, everyone’s on edge… You know, we’re finding that even after what happened with George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and of course Ahmaud Arbery… And now more recently with Daunte Wright and Ma’Khia Bryant, and… It’s just so many names. It’s just a list…

Back here in Toronto where we are, we already know of court proceedings with Dafonte Miller who lost an eye after being assaulted by an off-duty police officer and his brother, and… As we’ve heard, there was… Allegedly a cover-up from the cop’s father who was also in on the police force as a senior member… This is what we, you know, this is the optics that we see. This is like the truth that we see. So how can we get justice? How do we have equality for our community when it comes to law enforcement, and also as we mentioned at the outset, getting closure when an injustice has been committed, and… On whose side is the burden of proof? As we’ve heard throughout the George Floyd situation… They mentioned the burden of proof… Whose, you know… It’s like the assumption of innocence, you know? Innocence until proven guilty… Even when you have stark evidence that a crime has been committed, you have to prove it. You have to go through 14 days, 15 days of a trial with a jury, and so it puts a lot of stress on all of us watching these things and just hoping that justice will be served.

Now speaking of justice… We’re looking at justice from the outset, public engagement… Law enforcement, public engagement… The question is if all of us know that police officers are there to serve and protect. That’s a catchphrase, right? So their serving and protecting is… Is justice, is equality unto itself, and they’re providing this service to the community. They’re here for us. This is the premise. So now we know that that catchphrase doesn’t seem to hold a lot of weight, because more often than not, we hear about bad instances of interaction with the police and the public. So where is the accountability? How can police officers be held accountable when you have situations which… For us here in Ontario, we have the SIU who, you know, look into these instances where there’s wrongdoing committed by officers, and the SIU has members who were part of the police force and law enforcement across the province and in Canada, Toronto, et cetera, different regions… So it’s like the police policing the police, you know? So how likely is it that we’re going to get justice when the police are the ones investigating themselves?

And if you look at the stats which are factual, because you want to do it with the facts, it’s a fact that predominantly the police get off. They’re acquitted of all charges, and this is just something that is… You can look it up, feel free. And this is when the SIU is investigating, officer found not guilty, right? So it’s like, when officers know that they can basically do anything and most likely get off or it’d be swept under the rug, then how likely are they to serve and protect from a place of compassion, a place of sympathy, empathy… A place of respect where they can just do whatever they want?

Should the officers be held to a higher standard? Well of course, of course they should. They’re wearing a badge. They have a gun, they have a taser. They’re here to ensure the safety of everyone, you know, not just be trigger happy and not disrespectful to the public, right? So in this edition of Road to Equality, we want to talk about a few things… And I think engagement is definitely something that we want to talk about that we have been… Also, the effect that just the history of acquittal in the cases of these police officers, law enforcement… You know, government officials being involved in different things, like the history of impunity, just being able to do whatever and getting off scot-free, right? What effect does that have on society where we’re used to seeing unlawful situations with the cops being acquitted of crimes? As far as we’re concerned, in the public opinion, and then so the police officers who should be held to a higher standard legally… They’re getting off, and the question is, we as civilians, what laws are we supposed to follow when those who make the laws are also breaking the laws?

So when we look at a situation where recently, with the lockdown right here in Ontario, because of COVID-19… We all know it’s been over a year since March 11th, 2020, that we’ve been affected by the lockdown stay-at-home orders… There’s been a lot of anxiety on us, as we mentioned earlier, where we have a tendency to be depressed. I’m sure that all of us can relate to that, those feelings up and down. So when now when we’re going out into the public, it might be harder to always act respectful, to, you know, to be considerate, and now, sometimes situations happen.

Now when the police are called, situations… Should they not be aware of the fact that a lot of people are under anxiety, depression, mental health related issues, should not that be something that is discussed? In these departments, in these regions, just that… “Guys, be aware, people are going through a lot,” you know. “Don’t just pull out your gun and shoot. Ask questions. Come with compassion.” Know it’s just something which it would be ideal for these things to be discussed. And these are things that we might find will be logical, like, matter-of-fact, right, kind of issues… But why aren’t they being discussed? And if they are discussed, having a, you know, mental health program, recommendations for officers to attend a class or something, is that mandatory, or is it voluntary? Even if it’s mandatory, is it taken seriously?

You know, like in the case that I think we mentioned before in our last podcast where I was invited to come down to speak, we mentioned with the case of Regis… You know, we all know about Sammy Yatim, what happened with that, and it was definitely mental health, was connected to both of those instances, you know. It’s easy to talk about what’s happening in the States, but we want to also focus on what’s happening in our own neighbourhood, within the global community, right?

So speaking of which, where are we at in our neighbourhood, in our city, in our province, closer to home? We want to bring things home. In society, the basic unit is the family. Within the family, the basic unit is the individual. So we want to look at how we can look at our own behaviour within our families, within our cities, within our province. But just looking at ourselves closer to home… So when we look at the gun culture, as they say, in the United States where more people own guns… You would agree… Than here in Toronto, there’s not as many instances of us shooting each other because not as many of us have guns. Now when you have an interaction with law enforcement, it’s less likely that the average citizen here in Toronto or Ontario was going to have a gun on them. Now for police in the United States, the likelihood of someone having a gun, you know, it’s greater, factually… So they go with that idea that they might have a gun. Here it’s less likely that they’re thinking they might have a gun… Depending on a person’s demeanour, they might think, oh wait, this person looks like they might do drugs, or they might this, or they might that… There could be assumptions. These are some of the misconceptions or the perceptions that we want to try to indicate that need to be changed within police culture, law enforcement culture.

But here it doesn’t matter that we have less guns. People are still being shot by cops. There’s still discriminatory, you know, stops and stuff, and basically situations where I think right now with the lockdown… The premier of Ontario said he was going to try to get the police to basically go back to a system of carding, where… There would be random stops of people just going out to get a… A bag of milk? It wasn’t clear what was really going to happen, but I know personally it was something that caused anxiety… Wondering if I’m just going for a walk for exercise, which is something that we definitely need right now, getting out there, being active… And then we’re going to be stopped by a police officer, ask for our name, ask for our address, which is an infringement on our privacy as per the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

And even the police mentioned that. Toronto police issued a message on Twitter saying that they weren’t going to follow the law or instruction from the premier Doug Ford of Ontario, Doug Ford… And many of the regional police departments said the same thing. I think the OPP was going to still engage and do what Ford had asked or commanded to be done… Which is very interesting, because what is law when our governing officials lay down the law, but even the law enforcement officers say that “that’s not lawful, what are you doing?” So there was no discussion between the premier’s office and the law enforcement on what should be done and making sure that they were lawfully laying down the law… So now you have these situations where there’s more stress, more anxiety, and then by the next day after that announcement, it was a non-issue, and that we could go out freely, still do our best to abide by the restrictions, and… As per COVID-19, for a year we’ve been dealing with this, and social distance and just be kind to our neighbours, use compassion with our dealings… But not be randomly stopped whether we’re in a car or on a bike, walking down the street… That was unlawful, right?

So now when we talk about what’s lawful, what isn’t, a lot of us don’t really know our rights. We don’t look into our legal options. And we’re not saying that cops count on this, but they don’t expect to stop someone for anything and expect them to read them back their own rights, for us to tell the cops, “Well, I know,” you know, “in the law…” You know, section this and that, you know, article 15A… Part C, you know, et cetera… Where they’re not expecting all of us to be lawyers basically, right? So it’s important for us to be aware that we do have rights and also for officers here or anywhere else to abide by what is lawful and treat us as civilians with respect, to serve the community and to protect.

So for me, when it comes to freedom, justice and equality, and ensuring love, peace, happiness… And you know there’s no justice with no peace, right? How can we have peace inside ourselves, how can we feel comfortable when there’s no justice, when there’s no law. It’s unlawful, right? So there needs to be a change of the culture, a change of the law enforcement culture where, if possible… Is it possible, being on the road to what is possible and the road to equality, is it possible for us to have more, perhaps, town hall meetings where communities affected by these police shootings and unlawful harassment by officers profiling… Regular, maybe every two months, maybe four times a year… Every three months, to have town hall meetings where we can honestly express ourselves and have some accountability, have experiences that don’t always make it to the news where we’ve been hearing situations of police brutality here in our own city, in Toronto, in Peel region, in our province Ontario and in our country, you know, Alberta, you know, BC, Vancouver, right?

So we have situations where even our Native brothers and sisters in our Indigenous populations, you all know the stories of mistreatment and being shot, being killed, being abused… And this is just ongoing. Who can we turn to, to get justice? So I’ve always felt that having an open and honest conversation, and sharing experiences that don’t always make it to the news, which is a lot of them over decades, for us to be able to have accountability… Now how can we have an independent body of oversight… Where actual events that have happened in these discussions… Where these truly independent groups can now look into them and investigate and be able to now… Yeah, give something a bit more than just recommendations, but actually lay charges if officers are found guilty of beating someone up in the back of a cruiser and then saying “OK, you can go now. I guess you’re not guilty.” They’ve been beat up. This is what’s been happening, and it doesn’t always make the, you know, six o’clock news.

If officers know that they will be found guilty and they will be put in prison, I think they would tighten up their ranks a little bit and have a little bit more respect when dealing with the public, and this is one of the things that we’re asking for. Is it too much to expect that we’ll be treated with fairness when dealing with an officer, you know, who are there to serve and protect? You know, so these are things that are local issues that are city-wide, province, you know, province-wide that we’ve been dealing with for years upon years.

And what is the effect on our mental health, on our hearts, on our spirits? It’s so easy to feel broken down. Every day, every week, every month, every year we have to go out into the public… We shouldn’t… This is life. We’re here, you know, a beautiful April day, 2021. You want to just enjoy this life together, work together, you know? Your situations where things do happen, where the police are there to help, to lay charges where needed, make arrests where needed, in the situations where a crime has been committed… Crimes do happen. We’re not saying that criminal activity does not happen, and certain people are in charge of maintaining law and order when necessary. But having a badge and a gun does not mean that they can act in any old way as they see fit. There should be, you know, like a structured…You know, a way of acting that… Informs their behaviour, right? So this is all that we’re asking for, freedom, justice, equality that brings love, peace and happiness, you know?

So what is just cause? We’re speaking about a community… For instance, I don’t really want to mention any neighbourhoods in particular, but you all know certain neighbourhoods in our city that are known for more gun violence, factual… Crime neighbourhoods… But not everyone in these neighbourhoods is a criminal. So the police might enter these neighbourhoods doing patrols to make sure that everyone is safe… That’s the premise… So when you now approach somebody, do you come at them with the demeanour of, you know, you’re a criminal, you know, with, like, caution? Or do you assume that they’re innocent, you know?

The law says that we are innocent until proven guilty… In the situation with what happened with George Floyd, they mentioned that the officer… His lawyer mentioned to the jury that they needed to remember that he was innocent until proven guilty, right? When we are approached by an officer who wants to investigate something…We’ve been discussing if you feel as well that we are approached with the assumption that we are guilty, not innocent, so that’s guilty before being proven innocent. So it’s like a reversal. That’s the dichotomy that we’re, you know, thinking about.

Now with mindfulness, we are striving to look at all these situations… Months, years that these court proceedings and these instances of police brutality, negative community involvement has been going on. So we’ve been trying to get to the point… We want to go from a positive perspective to make positive change. This is what revolution means, to affect positive change in our communities and the world at large.

So we’ve been discussing how… Why does it take a very negative situation where someone is killed by a law enforcement agent? And for the police departments to now publicly say that they’re going to implement more police sensitivity, you know, for our different communities, within the community, and… You know, there’s a lot of spirits of thought about this kind of thing. We’ve all heard about all the times that these incidents of police brutality and people getting shot and killed by police officers. We already know the whole song and dance. Now they’re up on the six o’clock news, once again, saying how they’re going to implement new sensitivity training and, you know, making sure that police don’t just fly off the handle and get trigger happy and kill people unnecessarily. And with people, reporters bring up with, like… You know, Regis, you know, it’s like… Even, of course, Sammy Yatim, as you mentioned before… The question is, well, why… Why weren’t they aware of the mental health aspects, you know? Why aren’t they informed of this beforehand? Or, you know, do they even care? You know, so it’s always after the fact.

Now here we are, 2021. As far as Black Lives Matter-related protests… It’s been discussed that in wintertime, there were less protests. We didn’t have much of a winter, really… In the states, there’ve been more publicized shootings, death by cop. And so we here feel the pain, we’ve always felt the pain, and we now react to what’s happening stateside and have protests in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the United States as they also, you know, fight back against the clan down there and the cops that are working for the clan… Just like here as well in the sense of supporting white supremacy, white insanity, in the sense of… That a certain race is more superior than another, this kind of ignorance you want to dispel and eliminate, eradicate…

You know, this is part of the problem, when you are a cop of a certain culture, to come out into a community without knowledge of the community, awareness of the community… How much better it would be for more “sensitivity training” as they call it, and more cultural awareness? You know, having members, respected, informed members of every community, you know, the African, Black community, Asian community, South Asian community, Indigenous populations, everyone, Filipino, all the cultures… How representatives come in, and then on a regular basis they speak to the police departments about how they’ve been finding engagement and also what they feel they need for their community from the police. There’s a lot of money that we as taxpayers are giving to the government to now pay the police to serve and protect us. But when do we get the chance to voice our opinion about the effectiveness or lack thereof of their patrols and their serving and protecting us, right?

So going forward, as we wind down and end off this edition of Road to Possible, Road to Equality, we want to discuss how we can now have more of us come together from all aspects and separate parts that make the whole in our community, no matter what our, you know, orientation is, our culture… Different ages all coming together for the sake of equality, for justice, from a place of love and compassion, generosity, mindfulness, and bringing this spiritual aspect into the community on this road to equality. There are a lot of questions that we have inside ourselves. We want answers. And sometimes one of the main questions is who can we even go to? When you have the situation that we spoke of before, where in Ontario, the SIU, they are basically police patrolling or investigating police in situations of wrongdoing by the cops… It seems like every time you hear about a situation where someone has been usually killed by a cop, the SIU has been called in, and that’s when we let out a collective groan and moan, right there… We feel like there will not be justice… More often than not, there isn’t. But why should that be, you know? There must be some consequences for wrongdoing from these officers.

We want to close off just by building on a positive note, and that is that we want to make sure that everyone is taking care of themselves. Please do get out in the community if you see anything out of place, or you see anything that’s positive, speak on it, whichever it is, especially positive… If you see someone who seems like they don’t know someone helping… Like a young person helping an older person across the street… If you have a chance, just say hey… We have to still have the social distancing, wear a mask when needed, as it’s been said… But just take a moment to socially distance, perhaps go up to them and say, “Oh, I saw what you did for that person, it’s very nice.” Let’s just have this positive reinforcement, encourage all of us to basically not police ourselves, but know that we’re all watching each other from a positive aspect, from, you know, a positive frame of mind that we’re all looking out for each other, and maybe, just maybe, on this road to what is possible, on this road to equality, by the way that we engage with each other, and of course with law enforcement when it does happen, that we come from a place of respect…

We feel that we’re disrespected… These things happen, but if we, at least from our perspective, our side of things, when we’re approached by a cop, we don’t always have to be the ones to be aggressive… It’s triggering. Trust me, I know… You know… And in our relationships, our interaction with the cops, we don’t want to come off as aggressive. We want to see what they’re asking about and try to keep it, you know, peaceful as we can… Not right off the bat, we’re like, why are you talking to me? Come out with attitude… That’s never going to be a positive thing. So maybe on our end, we stay right and exact, we stay positive and mature and just say what they’re asking about. Maybe there’s someone to ask us a question. They’re wondering if we’re OK because someone might have been, like, a robbery down the street, you never know. So let’s just start engaging with the law enforcement in a way of respecting ourselves, let’s say…

If we feel like we can’t respect them because ACAB: All Cops Are Bad… You know, that’s the hashtag… We feel like we cannot respect any of them because they have been permitting bad cops… If they’re “good cops,” they’ve been permitting bad cops to wrongdoing, so All Cops Are Bad, ACAB. Let’s respect ourselves. Let’s be the bigger person in the sense of… Let’s be mature about the situation and not do anything, that if they want to now pull out their guns and come at us in a way that we might lose our life because of these situations happening, let’s not give people now when they watch the news to say “Oh, well… See? There’s video footage from their body cam, see they came out aggressive and they started pushing the cop and that’s how they got shot.” We don’t want to give them any excuse to say that we are the ones doing wrongdoing, but we weren’t respectful…

These are some of the discussions that we’ve been having looking at what’s happening with some of these scenes that we’ve all witnessed from the news from the body cam and cell phone footage, about how we respond when police come on the scene. So let’s make sure that we ourselves respect ourselves, that even when it’s not the police, just out on our daily business, actively trying to get some exercise with all this lockdown stuff… We know that’s been stressful. It’s been causing anxiety to all of us. So let’s just build on a positive note to see how we can be a force for change, to be the change that we want to see in this world, and if we can do this, we will definitely see, you know, a raising of the vibration and a change in our community and our society… It might give these police, you know, not a reason to really patrol anymore. It might put some police out of work, but that’s not a bad thing, right? This is how we can change the world for the better and continue on this road to what is possible, on this road to love, peace, happiness and equality.

Stay blessed. Peace.

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