The Black Rod

The origin of the Usher of the Black Rod goes back to early fourteenth century England . Today, with no royal duties to perform, the Usher knocks on the doors of the House of Commons with the Black Rod at the start of Parliament to summon the members. The rod is a symbol for the authority of debate in the upper house. We of The Black Rod have adopted the symbol to knock some sense and the right questions into the heads of Legislators, pundits, and other opinion makers.

Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

We are citizen journalists in Winnipeg. When not breaking exclusive stories, we analyze news coverage by the mainstream media and highlight bias, ignorance, incompetence, flawed logic, missed angles and, where warranted, good work. We serve as the only overall news monitors in the province of Manitoba. We do the same with politicians (who require even more monitoring.) EMAIL:

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Take the edge away from police, says Dumas lawyer

Donald Worme, the lawyer for the family of Matthew Dumas, demonstrated Thursday the absurdities a lawyer can get away with in a court of law and still be considered a reputable member of the bar.

In rejecting the evidence of an RCMP expert on police use of force, Worme suggested at the inquest into the police shooting of Dumas, that young aboriginals be given an even chance to kill police officers who try to make an arrest.

If that wasn't enough, he dismissed all of the evidence at the inquest and stated that his position was that Dumas was only wiping away pepper spray from his face when he was shot by a policeman who wrongly thought he was being threatened with a screwdriver in Dumas' hand.

“(The shooting) was consistent with training and best practices,” RCMP Cpl. Greg Gillis said. Dumas was armed with a screwdriver (an edged weapon, in police parlance) and was within a 25 foot no-go zone that police are taught to maintain by fatal force if necessary. Sad precedents have shown a person can run 25 feet and stab a policeman before being downed by a shot. The police officer who shot Dumas let him come within 2 to 3 feet before shooting.

Worme said in front of television cameras outside court that the officer should have holstered his gun and used his police baton to subdue Dumas.

In other words, he should have fought Dumas man-to-man, gladiator-style, giving Dumas an even chance at killing the officer if he couldn't be beaten into submission.

The two-week-long inquest has heard witnesses tell how Dumas sucker punched a police officer and fought with him in the back lane behind Dufferin Avenue before threatening to stab a man who came to help the policeman. And how Dumas advanced on another policeman, screwdriver in hand, boxing him in between a fence and a snowbank, refusing all demands to stop and drop his weapon.

Witnesses testified that Dumas wasn't fazed by pepper spray fired at him. And that he lunged at the boxed-in police officer, literally forcing him to fire his gun to save his life.

Ehhh. Not relevant, says Worme.

The poor boy was simply confused. He had asthma and the pepper spray wasn't good for his health. And he was just wiping it away, not threatening the policeman.

And he was carrying a screwdriver... why?
Not relevant, says Donald Worme.

And he tried to stab a witness...why?
Not relevant, says Donald Worme.

And did the pepper spray make him deaf so that he couldn't hear the entreaties to drop his weapon?
Not relevant, says Donald Worme.

Apparently, none of the evidence is relevant.

The truth is what the race baiters want it to be, and the judge must say so.

No, the judge must repudiate Donald Worme.

She must clearly, without hedging, state that requiring police officers to engage armed and threatening suspects in a "fair fight" is something that will never be contemplated in Winnipeg or anywhere else in the civilized world.

She must use a word that appears not to be in the vocabulary of Donald Worme---responsibility.

Matthew Dumas started the fight that led to his death.
He armed himself with a weapon.
He threatened to use it on a witness.
He refused all verbal demands to drop his weapon.
He kept advancing on a police officer even when he was told that he would be shot if he continued.
It was his responsibility to stop.

He didn't. He is responsible for his own death.

And the race-baiting demagogues who tried to incite hatred against the police in Winnipeg over the Dumas shooting are responsible for their words and their actions.

They must be repudiated by the politicians, the press, and the very people they claim to represent.


One of those demagogues is Terry Nelson, Chief of the Roseau River Indian Reserve, and he was in the news much of the week for wreaking havoc on his own people.

Nelson said he was responsible for not paying a bill to the Pembina Valley Water Co-operative, which this week cut off the water to the reserve. He did it deliberately, said Nelson, to make a point, which was, apparently, that somebody other than the reserve should pay the bills for the reserve.

Nelson held a news conference and called the water cut-off an act of terrorism.

"If we did this to a white community in a dispute, it would be considered terrorism," he was quoted as saying.

But what is it when the red man does it to his fellow red man?

Reporters said two patients on dialysis were transferred to a hospital 60 miles away in Morden. The reserve's seniors' centre had to buy bottled water for its residents.

If the water cut-off endangered the lives or health of these people, then Justice Minister Dave "Six Months" Chomiak should launch an investigation into charging Nelson with criminal negligence.

Nelson admits he deliberately refused to pay the $50,000 bill and he expected the water to be cut off. He had the money, as he demonstrated by writing a cheque to get the water turned back on after one day. He knew, or should have known, the risk to the ill and elderly.

Why is Chomiak turning a blind eye?

And one television station raised an important question. Was this an act of intimidation against the residents of the Roseau River reserve who rejected a proposal to lease a section of reserve land to a couple of business ventures?

The land on Highway Six hosts a gas bar, operated by Nelson's daughter, and a gaming centre. On June 12 the reserve held a referendum to "designate" the land, which is a way of semi-privatizing the land by way of a lease to a commercial venture. Reserve land is held communally and private ownership is not allowed otherwise.

The referendum failed, and Nelson he intended to hold another vote after he had time to lobby people to support it.

Was it coincidence that immediately after the vote the power was shut off, then the water was shut off, then the local school board announced it was owed money and unless it was paid the kids from Roseau River couldn't attend the fall semester?

The Department of Indian Affairs should examine whether refusing to pay for water, and Hydro, and education falls under the rubric of lobbying.

Nelson fancies himself a spokesman for aboriginal people in Manitoba and a leader. What message has his leadership sent to Manitoban?

That Indians are deadbeats who can't pay their bills?
That they are so locked into a welfare state of mind that even when they make money they expect somebody else to pay their debts?
That education is so undervalued that Nelson would rather spend money on lawyers and travel and meetings than on paying for school and community services?

Certainly that's not the view of approximately 200 Roseau River reserve residents who have signed a petition to remove Nelson as chief. They see a different future for themselves and their children.

Nelson plans to continue his challenge to white society with railroad blockades planned for June 29.

Remember how he announced his plans:
"There are only two ways to get the attention of the white man. With a gun or by standing between him and his money. On June 29 we are going to get between him and his money and shut down the rails to make our point.”

Nelson should be aware that Bill C-21 (Repeal of S. 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act) has been given Royal assent. That means the Canadian Human Rights Act is being extended to reserves.

And that means that Nelson could soon be defending himself in front of a human rights commission for statements that are "likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination."

Like, say, skin colour?


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