Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Why Frank Paul died and everything after

I've been writing about Frank Paul since 2002. It was 12 years ago this month that he died in alley where Vancouver police dumped him. He had been picked up for being drunk and dragged into Vancouver cells. But a police officer said he was OK, so he was dragged out and left in an the alley in the cold. (You can read a primer on the sorry case here.)
The police investigation was sloppy and self-serving. Prosecutors did a shoddy job of reviewing the file. The police complaints commissioner and provincial politicians stonewalled calls for an inquiry for nine years.
The inquiry is concluding. Stephen Kelliher, lawyer for the Paul family, offered a clear explanation for how this all happened Tuesday, and it's reported here. It is important to read.


Anonymous said...

I'm wondering, Paul, what makes the article an important read. Were you surprised to almost read the news that Canadians are Prejudiced, Patronizing, and Racist, in particular when it comes to First Nations. Or were you surprised that a white Canadian lawyer almost, but not quite, had the nads to say so. "a blind spot which could be called by other names" are weasle words designed to avoid offending the "enquirers". In either case it was clear from the earliest release of the police hall videos "how this all happened". It's called "circle the wagons", and "I've got your back"..."nudge, nudge, wink, wink". And more often than not, it has worked just fine. Thank goodness for the new paradigm of surveillance videos and cell phone cameras, which is the only reason any of us heard anything at all about the tragic last day of Frank Paul.

Norm Farrell said...

I don't argue with Anonymous other than to say nothing indicates that Paul was "surprised" or is newly offended by this sad, sad story. Yes, truth is that 'circle the wagons' was how this happened. It is not necessarily racist although elements of that exist. There is also a thorough misunderstanding of the needs of the mentally ill or the chronically addicted. We treat them as worthless criminals or near criminals. Look back at recent defunding of addiction treatment agencies in recent months.

It is a simple accusation to blame racism but our failures go well beyond. At the root is a refusal of egalitarian rights and the me-first, screw-the-rest philosophy pushed by servants of the powerful.

Paul Willcocks displays admirable humanism in his blog writing and should not be compared to those who excuse or ignore the events preceding or following Frank Paul's death.

Anonymous said...

Simple accusation or otherwise, Frank Paul's demise was directly attributable to Racism. Plain and simple. And the perpetrators have been able to evade responsibility for their parts in it, to this very late date, because of a combination of Institutionalized Racism plus the "circle the wagons" automatic reflex of police, in this as well as in way too many other cases of infamy and notoriety in the recent past. If I was First Nations myself I believe I might be insulted by your apparent attempt to pretend it wasn't Racism, first and foremost.
"Canada and Canadians are inured and anesthetized to the suffering of aboriginal people, and that's part of who we are," said Kelliher. And he was right - he just didn't didn't quite have the nads to say it in plain English at the enquiry. Sometimes Truth Hurts.

Raymond Graham

Norm Farrell said...

I believe Frank Paul's death was inexcusable as has been the multi-layered official coverup for almost 12 years. But today, another police involved death, this one 40 months ago, is at inquest. The police shooter still claims 8 shots were an appropriate way to deal with a man suffering a psychotic break. I know 60 year old grandmothers working as RNs that regularly confront people suffering episodes of acute psychosis. Believe or not, they don't shoot anyone.

After the homicide of Paul Boyd the same wagons were circled by the VPD and they are so defensive about it and similar incidents that they forget to give their own behavior proper analysis. Was the shooting of Paul Boyd an act of racism. Probably not.

Was it an example of inappropriate conduct enabled by institutional faults of both training and accountability? Certainly but so too was Frank Paul's death.

The out-of-proportion population share of aboriginals in slums like the DTES, in the judicial system and especially in corrections, are all stronger indicators of racism or the results of systemic racism applied over generations.

DPL said...

Frank Paul was a fall down drunk, and a Indian, so was considered a pain in the behind to the cops. There are some agencies that could and should have been available to dry him out. That didn't happen and so he died, alone in a back alley. In a compassionate society, that should not happen, but it will continue to happen. Sad world we live in. Lots of money for highways, roofs for stadiums etc. Our priorities are all wrong in BC.

We lived for a few years on Alexander street in Vancouver,and saw some very rough treatment of the down and outers in the area.Yes there were some good cops down there, but many get jaded pretty quick, which shouldn't but does happen.