Shoot or Shoo?
Saturday mornings I head off to the Eaton Chelsea Hotel and buy a cup of coffee and grab the newspapers. I sit surrounded by the babble of tourists, and enjoy the feeling of being a part of humanity before heading back to my small apartment.
This morning a Toronto Policeman sat at the table adjacent to me. In uniform, with the gun readily accessible on his hip.
Iíve lived in Toronto almost 35 years, and still am unnerved by cops carrying guns. I grew up in countries where police were not armed, and I feel unsafe around anyone carrying a gun.
The more so now that the Toronto Cops now shoot to kill. Toronto Cops shoot anyone that they canít understand, usually people who are mentally disturbed.
You already know that I am disturbed about the Pistol-Packing Police of Toronto. Iíve written about it on these pages over the past four or five years.
So there I sit, trying not to stare (who knows what tips a cop over the edge, right?) but sneaking occasional glances at the gun.
The cop finishes his mound of bacon and mountain of scrambled eggs and leaves.
So far so good.
Next comes a guy aged, I guess, about 30 or perhaps 40 years old. Black skin. Babbling to himself.
He stops in the corridor and calls out in a loud voice apparently to someone he recognizes in the cafeteria, where I sit. I look up, but I canít see anyone who is responding to him.
He shuffles down towards the exit from the cafeteria, calls out again, shuffles into the cafeteria, starts shouting at some tourists at the table.
I am praying that the cop and his gun are long gone and that the cop is cruising the streets in his cruiser, far away from mentally-disturbed black guys.
Four men, all employees of the Eaton Chelsea Hotel appear in the corridor. I recognize them; I see them each Saturday and have chatted with at least one of them a couple of times. They confer, then one of them walks down the corridor, approaches the disturbed guy, starts talking with him. I canít hear what is said, but I hear the black guy respond angrily, loudly.
The three other members hover in the corridor next to my table.
The sole practitioner manages to convince the disturbed guy to exit the cafeteria and move into the corridor The three compadres move deliberately down the corridor, and within two minutes, tops, the disturbed guy is out on the street.
I heard no sounds of scuffling, but didnít look up. It is their job, their business.
And didnít they do it well!
I rather suspect it was a well-coordinated effort along the lines of ďif one of us can get the guy out of here, then four of us are not needed. But if things go ballistic, three of us are two seconds away from being able to apply whatever force is requiredĒ.
I do not know that that was their plan, but whatever it was, it worked.
Within two minutes, tops, the disturbed guy is out on the street.
It can be argued that this was an easy case, that the disturbed guy was open to suggestion. That he was not brandishing a knife, or a hammer, or a pair of scissors stolen from a variety store.
Nonetheless, I would fire the firm that is supposed to be teaching Toronto Cops the art of de-escalation, and send in the Eaton Chelsea Hotel team to get the city sorted out properly.
I really would.