Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Free Gary McCullough, the first G20 arrest

Remember that guy who was busted at G20 in June for having all his worldly possessions strapped to the roof of his car? Not even a protester, he was in Toronto to get a car window fixed. Two months later CBC reports he is still in freaking jail!

The original G&M booga booga headline : "Police arrest man with arsenal of weapons near G20 zone", with a police officer at the scene calling it "pretty scary stuff", was already downgraded to "nothing to do with G20" by police a few hours later.

But by then they had already freaked about his possessions - tools, an axe, a baseball bat, a sledgehammer, a chainsaw, a crossbow, water and gas cans, a laptop, - and a scruffy white little dog called Marley.
As McCullough sat in handcuffs at the side of the road, Greg Weston of the Toronto Sun wrote:
"He had tears in his eyes, and looked clearly distraught. There was no hint of anger or aggression."My dog," he said plaintively to no one in particular. "Please someone do something with my dog."

So then we heard he is a hermit living on his secluded rural property and his mental health issues precluded his answering the police questions to their satisfaction :
"He wasn't forthcoming initially with his information" and exhibited "some disorientation," Toronto police Const. Hugh Smith said at the time. "It's lawful to have them in your possession … but with close proximity to the summit, we are going to relate it, you know, to the G20 and the safety. So there was more than enough to arrest."

Right. And then later the police made a mockery of their "G20 weapons seizure" display by including his crossbow, along with some fantasy medieval chainmail.

So why is McCullough still in jail?
At his bail hearing, Justice of the Peace Paul Kowarsky stated :

"If the conditions of his health, which apparently lie at the root of his criminal behaviour and the allegations before the court, are not addressed, then the danger to the community of his presence in the community while on bail is great.

I see no sense that he had to bring all the items for the sole purpose of being in Toronto and running an errand." In denying bail, the justice added: "The inference is he carried all these items for a purpose dangerous to the public."

And then he remanded him till Oct 6th.
Jesus fucking christ. I guess that judge has never lived outside of a city. I remember my rural neighbours and I noting that McCullough's stuff was pretty much the identical list of stuff we carry around in our vehicles, minus the crossbow, which at any rate the police said McCullough had secured properly.

Meanwhile we learn today McCulloch has been beaten up in jail, with several broken ribs, and his health is deteriorating.
Under today's CBC article, this comment :
"I know Gary as I was his caregiver at one time . He is quite harmless, but since he suffers from schizophrenia and shall we say is a might eccentric, his actions and possession of some off beat items could be easily misinterpreted by uneducated and paranoid police officers as being " dangerous" . His being held in custody is simply put disgusting and disrespectful. He is a victim of of the g20 police state mentality ( which was more psychotic than he) and should be released before he is hurt."

As Skdadl said, quoting someone at Rabble, this is the criminalization of mental illness in a creeping police state - first by police abetted by the media, then by Justice Kowarsky. By the time McCullough's trial date comes up and despite the fact he has committed no crime, he will have spent three and a half months in prison over an illegal police search and seizure.


Boris said...

Society in quicksand. Struggle just makes it worse.

Putting a schizophrenic recluse in prison is torture.

Kev said...

Our prisons and cemeteries are full of the mentally ill, which is what happens when their primary contact with the system is a cop not a doctor.

When I read yesterday that he was still in detention I was filled with rage at both myself and society for forgetting about Gary.

Anonymous said...

You're going to think I'm an idiot focussing on this part of the hideous story but what happened to the dog?

Alison said...

Anon : Not at all. Greg Weston, a truly great reporter since fired from the SunKoryMedia, got a phone number from McCulloch to get a relative to pick up the dog before the pound got there. Click the link "Greg Weston" in the post.

Kev : Don't beat yourself up. Any reasonable person reading about this at the time would have expected him to be released already. Something I should have mentioned in the post - we should start writing MPs about this when parliament resumes, put some pressure on even if it is "before the courts".

Boris : The problem with quicksand is - the only way out is to lie on the surface and move very slowly.
That doesn't seem to be working for us so far. ;-)

Beijing York said...

No wonder they yanked "This is Wonderland" from the CBC. That court-based drama reflected a compassionate and just society.

Skdadl is right, we are witnessing a creeping police state and seem helpless in attacking the roots. All these issues that concern us keep circling around one source: Harper and his quest to redefine our society.

Scanner said...

I think Byron Sonne is still in jail too, having been denied bail AGAIN in September. This reminds me of Argentina under the Colonels

Anonymous said...

Gary's rural property is best described as a bush lot in the middle of no where. It's not far from here where I live and all the items found in his car is what he needs to survive out there. He's trying to rebuild his shack in the bush after it was burned. About 2 weeks before the G20 Gary was beat up by some locals who took baseball bats to his car breaking the window, so I can understand why he was trying to get it fixed. Everything he owns is in that car. He's living out here in the bush to get away from all the things he can't cope with in the real world. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He needs help and getting beat up in prison is not the place for Gary.

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