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Should cops ditch their guns? New Zealand sets example some think Canada should follow – National



Should cops ditch their guns New Zealand sets example some think Canada should follow National


Last week, New Zealand police announced they were beginning the transition back to “normal” policing more than a month after a man shot and killed 50 people during the Christchurch mosque attacks. By normal, they mean the vast majority of police officers on the streets will go back to not carrying a gun.

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That idea — that most cops should not be carrying guns unless the situation clearly warrants it — is commonplace in countries like New Zealand, Norway, Iceland and the United Kingdom. For years now, it’s been touted by some as a potential solution to the number of people in North America killed during interactions with cops.

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Those disproportionately likely to bear the brunt of the scrutiny and violence? Black people.

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Think of Andrew Loku. In 2015, the black father of five, whom neighbours described as sweet, was holding a hammer in an apartment building, clearly distressed, when police entered and killed him. An inquest two years later ruled it a homicide. The inquest heard at length about how multiple neighbours tried to calm Loku down and had almost succeeded in getting him to relinquish the hammer when police arrived. Shortly after their arrival, Loku was dead.

Despite these cases and the public condemnation they inspire, the idea of disarming police officers hasn’t caught on in Canada. Should it? Could it?

Why people are calling for cops without guns

Right now, the people who are often getting shot by police are people in distress, those with mental health issues and those who are involved with drugs or “may be experiencing an episode,” said Kevin Walby, an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Winnipeg who has researched the impact of the militarization of Canadian cops.

“Maybe if we didn’t load up every officer with a firearm, we could decrease those kinds of deaths almost in an instant,” he said.

That doesn’t mean police are walking around unarmed, says Angela Wright, a Canadian political analyst who wrote last fall about why cops should give up their guns.

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There are a lot of misconceptions about what it means to take guns out of the everyday equation, Wright says.

What it doesn’t mean is sending cops out with bare hands or barring their access to guns in cases in which a situation arises that warrant them.

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What it does mean, she says, is “creating situations that make fatalities significantly less likely.”

That could mean leaving a gun locked in a police car while patrolling with batons and pepper spray to decrease the likelihood that a cop shoots first and de-escalates later.

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“The way we’re going now, increasing funding to police forces and increasing the arming of police forces, is not actually doing much in terms of curtailing gun violence,” Wright said.

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Last year was a particularly violent year in Toronto that saw a jump in crimes involving guns. In December, the police chief said officers recovered more than 500 handguns, up from just 222 the year prior. At the same time, homicides resulting from shootings increased nearly 30 per cent.

Why not everyone wants to disarm the police

Greg Brown, a post-doctoral researcher at Osgoode Hall Law School and also a former cop, is “unequivocal” in his rejection of the possible disarming of police officers.

“It’s a terrible idea,” Brown said.

“You’re dealing, in these kinds of situations, with very motivated individuals who are willing to risk their lives, most often to carry out a certain purpose … It’s a monumental mismatch.”

Look at the Moncton shooting in 2014 in which Justin Bourque went on a shooting rampage, killing three Mounties and injuring two others. The RCMP was later convicted of Labour Code violations for failing to ensure members had the appropriate training and equipment to confront an active shooter.

WATCH (2015): What has the RCMP changed since the Moncton shooting?

“You want to be confronting the threat with the best quality weapon that you have,” Brown said, adding he understands there is opposition to the militarization of policing.

Concern over that opposition cropped up during the Labour Code trial, with then-RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson testifying that he was cautious when it came to arming his members with high-powered carbine rifles specifically because possible militarization can “distance the public from the police.”

Conflating police patrolling in tanks with police carrying “the necessary weapons to confront individuals with high-quality weapons and intent” is dangerous, says Brown, who rejects most arguments in support of taking guns away from police in most scenarios, saying their proponents “have, generally, a pretty strong anti-police bias.”

WATCH (2015): A look back at the tragic Moncton shootings

“We would all love to live in a world where everything is sunshine and lollipops,” he said. “But society has shifted … I hate to read reports over and over again of police officers being murdered, quite often in circumstances where they are outgunned.”

Some of the places where police don’t routinely carry guns still have high levels of gun ownership and usage, says Walby, rejecting the idea that gun violence is a reason police need to always carry guns. In some of those places, he says, they are ditching the firearms in a bid to build trust.

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“They want to decrease the types of almost random shootings that they get involved in, which damage their legitimacy, and they want to send a message of non-violence and peace rather than militarization and aggression.”

Why it would be hard to disarm Canadian police

For more than a year now, the Green Party of Quebec has been attempting to generate enough momentum to ban most police from carrying around guns. It’s a petition the party’s leader, Alex Tyrrell, says was borne out of the cases he keeps seeing crop up in Montreal in which a person with mental health issues is shot by police during moments of crisis.

“Having the police armed makes the police officers less approachable. People feel threatened by it,” said Tyrell, who would like to see a police force pilot a project that mimics New Zealand’s approach to cops and firearms.

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“We should try turning back towards community policing,” he said. “Seeing the guns right on the belts of the officers in the context where there are people being killed on a somewhat regular basis is really what damages relations.”

While a pilot is certainly feasible, Walby says it would take serious political leadership to get the ball rolling, and even then, buy-in from all levels of government would be required — and there’s a big barrier: the role of the gun in Canadian society.

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Throughout the colonization of Canada, Walby says, “the gun actually was quite a prominent object in the daily lives of many people. Sometimes, they were holding it, and sometimes it was being pointed at them. There’s a kind of racialized dimension to this from the great march west.”

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Many still see the gun as a promise of security, he says, which makes even having the conversation about possibly making it less the norm for cops to wear guns at all times on their belt trickier.

“It doesn’t seem like the gun is going to be the answer to solving the gun problem,” Walby said. And yet:

“It’s almost kind of lodged in a lot of people’s psyches in Canada: guns keep us safe, therefore police should have guns. That kind of simple equation is going to be difficult to disrupt.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali



Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

Contrary to the expectations of the people, the leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) has termed the Tuesday, August 18 military coup in the West African nation as “regrettable” and “a big failure for our democracy” and called for a change of mentality if the country has to put an end to coups.

In an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, August 19, made available to RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA, the President of CEM, Bishop Jonas Dembélé said that the governance challenges the country is facing can be managed through dialogue.

“The military coup that led to the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is regrettable because we are in a state of law and democracy. This is the second time that Mali has had a military coup as a result of the way in which the country is governed. It is a big failure for our democracy even if there were reasons for it,” Bishop Dembélé told ACI Africa.

“It is true that our country has serious challenges including bad governance, the poor management of the economy, corruption, insecurity and so on,” Bishop Dembélé said and probed, “Why is it that we Malians have not managed to engage in dialogue to be able to discuss these problems and face up to these challenges responsibly?”

“Our leaders, our people lack transparency, they hate those who speak the truth and advocate for good governance. This mentality must change for our country to move on,” the Prelate told ACI Africa August 19.

Bishop Dembélé who is a frontline member of RECOWA-CERAO urged the military officials “to ensure a return to democracy as promised but most especially ensuring the new leadership of the country put the people first and tackle the security challenges facing the nation.”

Asked about the role of the Church in the current crisis, the 57-year-old Prelate noted, “For us the Catholic Church in Mali, our role is to preach peace; our role is to preach dialogue. We shall continue in this path of dialogue for peace just like Cardinal Jean Zerbo and some religious leaders initiated.”

“In a state of law, power is not in the hands of certain individuals but to the people. The anger of our people led to this crisis, but we must work for peace and reconciliation in Mali,” Bishop Dembélé said.

He continued in recollections, “The Bishops in Mali have always issued messages before every election in our country sounding the alert and inviting the government to organize transparent elections, ensure good governance and better management of resources.”
“But it seems our messages are never taken into consideration that is why we find ourselves in this situation today,” the Local Ordinary of Kayes Diocese told ACI Africa and added, “If the opinion of the Episcopal Conference of Mali is needed to mediate in bringing back stability and peace in the country, then we are ready.”

As a way forward, the Bishop urged the people of God in Mali to “seek the path to conversion” and to accept dialogue in the spirit of truth and honesty.
“We all want change in our

country, but this change can only be possible if individually we seek the path to conversion. It is for Malians be they Muslims or Christians or members of traditional religion, to do an examination of conscience and accept personal and community conversion in order to engage in sincere dialogue,” he said.

The Malian Prelate added, “Now there is this coup d’état to demand change we really wonder where change should come from. As long as we don’t change our behavior, our mentality, we will always have a repeat of the current situation.”

On Tuesday, August 18, President Keita announced his resignation and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, Aljazeera reported.
“For seven years, I have with great joy and happiness tried to put this country on its feet. If today some people from the armed forces have decided to end it by their intervention, do I have a choice? I should submit to it because I do not want any blood to be shed,” President Keita said August 18 during the televised address to the nation.

Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu

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Harris accepts VP nomination



Harris accepts VP nomination

Senator Kamala Harris formally accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday following a scathing speech by former President Barack Obama, who said the fate of the nation” depends entirely on the outcome of this election.”

Both Mr. Obama and Harris stressed the importance of voting, with Harris saying “we’re all in this fight together.” Harris sounded an optimistic note by highlighting her personal history and the promise of America, saying she was “so inspired by a new generation.”

“Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be not easy,” she said. “We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly. We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.” She called Mr. Trump a “predator” in a speech that came after Mr. Obama issued his most forceful rebuke of his successor to date, saying Mr. Trump “hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”

“This president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” Mr. Obama said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.

That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”

Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, speaking earlier in the night, both said they had hoped Mr. Trump would rise to the occasion. But they both stressed what they called his failures while in office, with Mr. Obama saying Mr. Trump has shown “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself



Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

The Malian soldiers who forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign in a coup promised early Wednesday to organize new elections after their takeover was swiftly condemned by the international community.

In a statement carried overnight on state broadcaster ORTM, the mutinous soldiers who staged Tuesday’s military coup identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People led by Colonel Major Ismael Wagué.

“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” Wagué said, announcing that borders were closed and that a curfew was going into effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m

The news of Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Bamako, and alarm by former colonial ruler France and other allies and foreign nations.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday August 19, 2020 afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission. Keita, who was democratically elected in a 2013 landslide and re-elected five years later, still had three years left in his term.

But his popularity had plummeted, and demonstrators began taking to the streets calling for his ouster in June.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS had sent mediators to try and negotiate a unity government but those talks fell apart when it became clear that the protesters would not accept less than Keita’s resignation.

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