What constitutes a physical assault in Toronto these days?
This would appear to be straightforward. If, for example, one individual punches another, surely that’s assault. Especially if the punch in question was witnessed. And photographed. But as I learned firsthand on Sunday, a fist in the face doesn’t necessarily constitute assault in our increasingly culturally sensitive Toronto.
The details: I was at Yonge-Dundas Square with my nine-year-old son. We ate pizza. We drank bubble tea. And I used my new Canon camera to take photos of this neon shrine. Suddenly, a woman wearing a hijab ran toward me. She was part of a group that included two women wearing full face-covering burkas. She was screaming: “We are Muslim! You do not take pictures of us!” (Odd. I can’t find the “no photos” rule in the Qur’an.)
I informed the lady I was in a public square in a democracy. I can actually take pictures of whomever I please.
And then: Ka-pow! Her fist collided with my face. Worse, she almost knocked my new camera from my hands. My son and I were then surrounded by a mob of about 20 people, many of whom were speaking Arabic. One kept demanding I surrender my camera to him.
It was surreal. Was I in Toronto — or Riyadh?
I spotted a group of bicycle-mounted police officers. I burst through the mob with my son and made a beeline towards them. I told a Toronto Police officer what had happened and I wanted to press assault charges. Better yet, a man and a woman came forward as eyewitnesses.
The 50-something couple, originally from Syria, told the police they had observed the entire affair and my allegations were true. The couple said they understood Arabic and knew what the mob was saying.
Alas, my Spidey Senses started to tingle when I overheard the questions being asked of the witnesses. “Was it a closed-fist punch or an open hand? Was it the front or the back of the hand?”
Huh? Physical contact had been made. Why did severity matter?
After the officer took my statement, he went over to the offending woman. Another constable was inexplicably miffed I was (legally) taking photos in the first place. The irony: Just above our heads a Toronto Police Service sphere was videotaping the activities.
The officer interrogated the woman. She was still hysterical. Good. The constable would encounter firsthand what I had been forced to deal with earlier.
The cop walked back to me. No charges would be laid, he said, because he believed the woman’s story — namely, she was merely trying to knock the camera out of my hands.
Got that? Apparently, attempted property damage is OK. If a face gets in the way of a would-be vandalizing fist... hey, accidents happen.
The Syrian eyewitnesses were speechless. I continued to plead my case.
Toronto Police cruisers are emblazoned with the slogan, “To serve and protect”. But increasingly, the unofficial slogan seems closer to, “F.I.D.O.” (“Forget It; Drive On.”)
The fact we have Islamists living amongst us who despise western values isn’t news. But surely you can’t just sock someone in the mouth.
Well, apparently you can — as long as the intent of the aggressor was merely to inflict property damage.
World’s upside-down. Just thought you should know.