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Calgary

Is Police Brutality a Racial Issue simply because the Media says so?

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9 minute read

For the first time in my lifetime, there is finally a topic that has garnered ubiquitous agreement; George Floyd was murdered.  Absolutely nobody is challenging this assertion, and the cop who killed him along with his uniformed accomplices are almost certainly going to spend a long time in jail.  

George Floyd’s murder was the spark that lit a powder keg of frustration, pain, and outrage which has exploded across dozens of cities worldwide. His death has been interpreted as proof of the long-held, media endorsed belief that Cops are hunting and killing Black people, as if it was a sport.

Canadian news outlets parrot their American counterparts by repeatedly referring to the killing of Mr. Floyd as, “the RACIST murder of George Floyd”.  With relentless repetition, the “racist” murder narrative has easily convinced most people that the cop, Derek Chauvin killed Mr. Floyd, at least in part because of his skin colour.  Although no evidence has been presented to suggest that Chauvin had any history of racist comments, or associations with racist organizations, the conclusion by the media has been nearly unanimous. 

In criminal law, for a crime to exist, there must be two main elements: Actus Reus, and Mens Reus.  Actus Reus is the physical element of the crime, or the “act”, and Mens Reus is the mental element of the crime, or the “intention”.  The act is much easier to prove than the intention, but the intention doesn’t have to be proven. Intention can instead be assumed based on circumstances and past history.  Now that you have a lesson in Criminal Law 101, you may see a problem with the media narrative of George Floyds’ death being concluded as “racist”.  

Although it’s entirely possible that Derek Chauvin was in fact a murderous white supremacist, at this point we don’t have any actual evidence that would help us understand either his intentions, or his personal beliefs. All we know for sure is that Officer Chauvin’s arrest and control procedures were entirely wrong, and were certainly a major factor in the death of Mr. Floyd. Having a knee on a person’s neck for more than a few seconds is not an acceptable practice in any circumstance. 

But about those “protests”….

The public is absolutely justified in staging massive protests over the police brutality which caused a man to die unnecessarily.  Police must be held accountable for their actions, and change must happen to prevent similar instances in the future. The issue though, isn’t about the protests, it’s about the underlying assumptions being made which are fueling the protests.  

First, FBI statistics are not supportive of the assumption that black people die in custody more than white people. Though, there are other stats from other sources which strongly support this assumption, it’s difficult to know which stats to believe.  Even if the stats did show, without a doubt that black people die in custody more than white people, the only factor mentioned to explain this is “racism”. 

Has anyone asked the obvious question of, …why else could this be happening?  What other factors may be at play?

Did you know there is another segment of society who are just as likely to die in custody as black people?  Military Veterans. Since this segment can not be identified by race, religion, or heritage, what possible explanation could there be for Veterans to be dying in custody at nearly twice the rate of non-veterans?  It seems like a valid question to ask, and even an important question to ask in order for us to be able to better understand why some people die in custody more than others.  It seems there must be more to it than racism, but that’s not a question that anyone seems to be interested in asking. 

Without the media supported presumption that George Floyd’s murder was motivated by racism, the protests would not likely be morphing into full out criminal riots.  When the looting starts, the valid protests end. Adorning your living room with an ill-gotten 75” flatscreen does not honour the life of George Floyd, nor does it provide an argument for defunding the police.  

By fueling the violence both the media and many politicians have been partly responsible for the deaths of numerous police officers and civilians of all races. Anger over one death has caused the deaths of many others, and that is not an outcome that can be justified. 

In 2016, Tony Timpa died in Police custody in nearly the exact same way as George Floyd.  The main difference is that Mr. Timpa wasn’t arrested for committing a crime, instead Mr. Timpa called 911 for help because he was scared, and having a psychotic episode.  Tony Timpa asked the police for help, and within 15 minutes of the police arriving, Tony was dead.  Timpa was cuffed, and placed on his face with an officer kneeling on his back for several minutes.  Like Mr. Floyd, Mr. Timpa begged for help, said he couldn’t breath, and told the officer that they were killing him.  The Cops laughed and joked once Timpa lost consciousness, and like Floyd, they did not attempt to resuscitate him. 

Tony Timpa happened to be white.  The National media showed very little interest in the story, and the arresting officers were not fired, and did not do jail time even though the autopsy concluded the death as a Homicide. The three officers were charged, but the charges were all dropped, and they got off scot-free.  If the George Floyd protests are about Police Brutality, then where are the protests for Tony Timpa?  Why is his name not mentioned as a precursor to the current situation?  It seems that if the accusation of racism can’t be used, then the story will not be run. 

The media likes it when you’re angry, and they love it when you’re scared. The more frightened you are, the more you look to the media for answers. The more angry you are, the more likely you are to participate in newsworthy protests. Either way, the media wins at your expense. 

You should be outraged at the death of George Floyd, but if you’re not equally outraged about Tony Timpa, then you’re not really interested in Police reform.  

Most Police officers are dedicated public servants who are doing an impossible job. I’m not anti-cop in any way.  I am however anti-corruption no matter where I find it. Whether it’s in the media, with the Police, within the Government, corruption and abuse of power must be addressed, and fixed.  In the absence of good questions, and clear thought, corruption will always flourish. 

Mark Meincke
Author, Writer, Podcast Host

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Black Lives Matter: What would Martin Luther King Jr Say?

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Alberta

Bamboo supplies dwindling: Calgary Zoo hopeful pandas will be China-bound soon

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CALGARY — The Calgary Zoo says it’s hopeful two giant pandas will be able to return home soon to China, where bamboo supplies are abundant.

The zoo said in May that it would be sending the pair back early because the COVID-19 pandemic was making it difficult to source the plant that makes up 99 per cent of their diet.

But international permits to transport the pandas to China were also stymied by the pandemic, and the zoo raised concerns last month about the animals’ well-being.

The zoo says international permit approvals are now underway and it’s cautiously optimistic it will be able to confirm a flight to China for the pandas soon.

It says it has secured a supply of fresh bamboo from across North America in anticipation of its Canadian supply running out this month.

The zoo says the bamboo hunt has been all-consuming and expensive, but the zoo is committed to doing everything it needs to to ensure the pandas are healthy.

Er Shun and Da Mao arrived in Calgary in 2018, along with cubs Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue, after spending five years at the Toronto Zoo. The cubs were returned to China in January and their parents were to remain in Calgary until 2023.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 25, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Preparing for the Return of the Calgary Winter at the Mustard Seed

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As Calgary prepares for the descent back into winter, the reliance on nonprofit organizations throughout the city is set to increase as the most vulnerable members of the community turn to support programs and shelters to weather the cold months. 

The Mustard Seed is a Christian-faith based organization that values transparency, accountability, respect, communication and holistic innovation. As one of Calgary’s oldest homeless relief organizations, The Mustard Seed has been operating in the city for nearly 40 years. 

By offering a range of products and services to compromised community members in Calgary and across western Canada, The Mustard Seed’s ultimate vision is to eliminate factors that contribute to homelessness and poverty. The organization pursues this goal every day by “providing basic needs (food, clothing and hygiene items), education, employment programs, health and wellness services, spiritual care, housing, and emergency shelter.” 

Founded in 1984 by Pat Nixon, who had experienced homelessness himself as a teenager, The Mustard Seed began as a small drop-in coffee shop. From there, it expanded into a downtown house, and then officially opened as a shelter on 11 Ave SE in 1992. Beginning with just 80 mats and a single location in ‘92, The Mustard Seed now operates five different locations across Calgary, and has the capacity to house 370 adults every night at their Foothills Shelter location. According to Dave Conrad, Community Engagement Manager for the Mustard Seed, the shelter serves close to 315,000 meals every year, and often hits overnight capacity in the winter months, averaging 328 individuals per night in 2019.

In addition to the Foothills Shelter, the Mustard Seed also operates the Downtown Support Centre, the Wellness Centre, the Neighbour Centre, and the Resource Sorting Centre. Across these 5 locations, The Mustard Seed is able to provide a series of advocacy, health and wellness, transportation, employment and spiritual care services to those who need them most. 

The Mustard Seed is also responsible for the 1010 Centre, Canada’s largest permanent supportive housing facility, which provides affordable, sustainable housing options in the city of Calgary. They have a total of 285 affordable housing units among four locations: 224 units in the 1010 Centre, 30 units in the Downtown Support Centre, and 31 units in two external housing units. 

Providing aid and relief, and fulfilling the most basic human needs as well as educational, employment and social needs for those who require it most is no small task. Issues such as homelessness and poverty pay no attention to a pandemic, and COVID-19 has had a major impact on operations at the Mustard Seed and organizations similar. 

In order to maintain compliance with COVID-19 health and safety mandates, the capacity of the Mustard Seed to house individuals has been reduced from 370 at one location to 238 between two locations, which will pose a unique challenge heading into winter. However, Conrad says they are committed to making it work, whatever it takes. “As the winter comes, we tend to see our numbers go up, which will create some unique challenges with the pandemic this year” he says, “but we will continue to work with the community and collaborate with other organizations to ensure that everyone who needs a bed, has a bed.” 

Despite the new and ongoing challenges of 2020, the support from the public during the pandemic has been extraordinary, says Conrad. ““We have all been incredibly humbled by the public response over the course of all this,” he says, “we are so encouraged by the outpouring of support from our community.”

Heading back into winter, some of the most pressing needs for The Mustard Seed currently include warm clothes and new underwear, and the organization is also encouraging people to explore available opportunities to return to volunteering. 

For more information about The Mustard Seed, visit https://theseed.ca

To find out how you can contribute and for a comprehensive list of items urgently needed by the Mustard Seed, check https://theseed.ca/urgent-items/

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.

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