Gordon Sinclair couldn't resist yet another sole-sourced anti-police diatribe Wednesday, even as his own newspaper reported that the NDP intends to launch an in-your-face attack on street gangs that have turned Winnipeg into one of the most violent and dangerous cities in the country.
Sinclair turned his column over to the sad and unchallenged story of Jackson Nahayo, "who had spent a sleepless night crying", over his allegations of police abuse.
Nahayo, it seems, can't tell the difference between police in a civilized country and rampaging bands of gun wielding killers and rapists in Burundi, where he was born and the country he fled.
"At the suggestion of a reporter for a Christian newspaper" he emailed Sinclair who jumped at the chance to blacken the reputation of the Winnipeg police.
"To Jackson, it felt way too familiar," sobbed Sinclair.
"Guys with guns," he (Nahayo) said. "Ganging up on me."
So what happened?
It all started, says Nahayo, as he sat alone in his girlfriend's car, a white Cadillac, outside the 7-Eleven at Ellice and Maryland. A police cruiser pulled up and an officer started questioning him. "What the hell are you doing here?"
Let's see, now. Nahayo has been in Winnipeg since 2003 so he knows all about the African Mafia, a violent gang of African refugees who have been active in the West End, which would include the Ellice and Maryland area. We've been arresting, convicting and deporting them in a steady stream for the past few years.
He's a lone male, African in appearance, in a car parked outside a 7-11 at 2:30 in the morning, and a quick licence check would determine he's not the female owner of the car.
Nope, nothing suspicious here, officer.
"Is there something wrong, officer," the wide-eyed innocent allegedly asked.
"Put your hands where I can see them," was the response. A perfectly reasonable precaution given the reasonable suspicion the car may have been stolen.
Did Nayaho say "I understand. I appreciate you're out here working the night shift in dangerous circumstances protecting honest citizens, and employees like that working in the 7-11 convenience store. How can I assist you?"
He says he put his hands on the wheel, but then "told the officer he wanted to use his cellphone to record what was happening." He must have had his cell phone in his hand, which was on the wheel, because that mean old policeman grabbed his hand, "rolling" his thumb back and taking the phone.
He's lucky he didn't get a bullet to the head. A cellphone in the hand looks a lot like a gun in the darkened front seat of a car. And, during a spot check of a possibly stolen car that may be connected to an abduction, "I want to use my cellphone" sounds a lot like "Chill. I'm callin' my homies".
Suddenly other cruiser cars pulled up. It seems there had been a report of two males in a white car with guns abducting someone on Ellice Avenue. And the police weren't taking any chances.
One officer began searching the glove compartment, a funny habit of police in Canada who have, through experience, discovered that guns are often kept there. Nahayo made a sudden move. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.
"That's when he (the policeman) shoved me on the shoulder and jabbed me in the ribs with his fist." Ohhhh. Shoved in the shoulder. What a brute.
Here's a hint. Don't make a move like you're going for a weapon when a nervous cop is sitting beside you.
Nahayo started screaming for help at people on the street, he said. Yet the next thing he describes is a polite conversation with the police during which they tell him what they're looking for (the men with guns in a white car). They returned his cell phone and left.
- Nahayo drew attention to himself by sitting alone outside a convenience store in the middle of the night in a car that wasn't his.
- He wasn't beaten up.
- He wasn't slapped around.
- He had his cell phone taken away from him by a police officer who could reasonably have feared it was a gun or other weapon, and the glove compartment of his girlfriend's car was searched by police risking their own lives to save a possible kidnapping victim.
- He got an explanation for why the police were so aggressive.
If that doesn't sound exactly like Burundi, we don't know what does.
But did he forget something? NOWHERE in his sad sad story does he say the Winnipeg policemen had their guns drawn. So where does the analogy with the African thugs come from?
From Gordon Sinclair.
"When he was six, he and his nine-year-old sister were abducted by men with guns. They were rebel militia who later beat him and left him for dead in the jungle when he refused an order to shoot his sister." wrote Sinclair.
Except that's the abridged version of the story. What's missing, is the part where it was Nahayo's big fat mouth that almost got his sister killed.
In May, Nahayo told his story (the Africa one, not the Winnipeg one) to Josiah Neufeld of Christian Week. (A reporter for a Christian newspaper? You don't think....)
In that account his sister was 8, and was captured along with little Jackson by rebel soldiers.
"For weeks they cooked for the soldiers, hauled water and carried ammunition. Nahayo watched his captors sexually assaulted the girls-including his sister." wrote Neufeld.
One day Nahayo decided to lecture the rebels about their behaviour. "I told the soldiers God would punish them." "One soldier, infuriated by his audacity, shoved a rifle at Nahayo and told him to gun down his sister." reported Neufeld.
Wonder what would have happened to him in Burundi if he told the gang he wanted to use his cellphone to record "what was happening"?