It took me two years to finally send this article. I was afraid, afraid of the police and other authorities. It is now official, the Police no longer need a warrant to enter your home and look through your things, hoping to find something to incriminate you.
I am a living proof of it, three times now. It does not seem to matter if you know your rights, they find any excuse and quote you obscure laws to push their way in. Since they keep coming without warrants, I felt the need to get this article published, in hopes that in the future they will think twice, and get a warrant from a judge before entering anyone's home illegally. It is so easy to get a warrant with all their distortions of the truth and picking of the easy judges in the first place, I don't understand why they don't even bother with this most important formality. Oh, perhaps it wouldn't be so easy to convince even the easy judges?
Never would have I expected this from a free and democratic society. There you are, they found nothing, there was nothing to be found, and yet, we have found something. Something serious, critical, significant. This is the end, the beginning of a new way of life, an all-powerful police state against which we are all powerless. It has begun... and it happened to me not once, not twice, but three times in the last two years, our worst fears have materialised.
It was 3h30 in the morning two years ago. I could not drink, sleep, watch TV, listen to music, read or play cards on the computer, I could do nothing. My partner Stephen had just been arrested whilst I was walking outside. The door of the apartment had been broken into by the police. I was told by a neighbour that they took him away. I called everywhere and they would not tell me anything. Finally they told me he had been arrested, but they would not tell me where he was, why he was arrested, nothing.
He finally called a few hours later from a local police station. He said he was not allowed to tell me anything. He asked me to call his boss the next day to let him know he could not come to work. I said I was not going to work tomorrow and that I would not sleep tonight. I am to tell his boss that he was assaulted by someone, he lost a tooth, he has been in hospital and it was a homophobic crime. Well, I certainly would not have told his boss it was a homophobic crime, the delivery industry is still very homophobic as it is.
I didn't even know then who did that, why, if they arrested anyone else. Stephen told me not to call his mum in order not to worry her, her heart, and she recently lost her husband. But I did leave a message on her answering machine, saying that Stephen had been arrested. God! How brainless of me. Well, I didn't know what to do, I knew nothing!
What was at the root of this crisis, was a tree! And lots of complaints from these neighbours upstairs who recently alienated the whole building against them.
For a second there, seeing the mess the police left behind (and I do wonder if they went through everything, every light was on, all the animals in a panic state), I thought I would never hear from Stephen again! Then I remembered that we are supposed to be in a free society, there are still some laws in this country... I don't trust there is much justice though, but I keep hoping that there is.
The police lied to me. When I called to ask if they had Stephen in custody, they said no, not at least for another two hours, and then the man hung up on me. When I called a few minutes later, I was told he was arrested, but no more. And when I got his call at 1 am, he was at that very station where they told me he was not!
I could not believe it! My boyfriend was in prison! And I didn't even have a vague idea of what he was being charged with, if anything. Why were they not releasing him? Surely they knew he was no danger to anyone? He had not slept in over 24 hours, and I was quickly reaching the same schedule. Some sort of adrenaline rush was going through my veins, I felt I could remain wide awake for the next few days without a problem, especially if he did not come home the next day.
I knew that Stephen certainly did not hit anyone, it was all lies from the neighbours that got him arrested, they hate gay people, it was a homophobic crime. But this does not answer why the police felt the need to break down the door.
I was freaked out. I closed all the curtains, I never do usually. I'm not sure what I was afraid of, certainly not the neighbours, I knew I could deal with them without a fight. Then it must be the police that I was afraid of. This is what has traumatised me that night.
The fact that they just destroyed the front door, came in in force, created the most unreal atmosphere of some sort of crime scene, and simply left with my boyfriend without leaving a word, and refusing to give me any information when I was condemned to call everywhere in such panic for any information about what took place that night...
I lived in fear, afraid they might come back for me, or that they might be lurking in outside, watching me, hoping to gather some alleged evidence for the prosecution or something. I was afraid they would be monitoring my emails and phone calls and that it would be used in Court against Stephen. I even wondered if they had bugged the place to gather that evidence. This is the kind of world we are living in now with these so-called terrorist attacks. And so I was now so careful of anything I said, even, anything I thought.
In this day and age, at this moment in time, in this police state as we let it became since no one can see how it is until it happens to them, I felt justified in my paranoia. I felt afraid, I was terrorised by the police and the law. I wondered if I would ever sleep soundly again, I felt so cold...
I wish I could calm people down, that they could get the message that there is no point in stressing over a tree, and that when it becomes heated with the neighbours who cannot help themselves in alienating us all, the best course of action is retreat in your own apartment before it escalates to the point where the whole place is filled with a SWAT team swarming all over your papers, after they tazed you or shot you.
Which reminds me of a very similar case that happened in the apartment next door not long ago, when finally the police tazed the man, and we were told they were about to open fire if it had not worked. The neighbour was alone in his flat, his girlfriend had just died some days ago, he called the police, but then refused to open the door to them. So they certainly stormed the place and escalated the whole thing until there was only one ending: someone had to die. If the police had left, or never came, five minutes later we would all have been sleeping soundly, never to mention the incident again.
Within a police state, what else can happen but everyone being harassed constantly by the police and every single small situation quickly escalating to shooting and arrests and prison sentences, wrecking the lives of good citizens who are no danger to anyone and deserve much better from their institutions they pay at a high price?
Politicians think they will become more popular if they get more policemen on the street, they have not realised yet that quite the contrary, no nation needs one policeman per citizen, and this is one area where we could easily save millions in these hard times.
I walked from the train station to a McDonald a few miles away that night, and I was counting the time between the police cars I met. Every minute or two, a police car passed on the street. I could not believe it. And this was before I knew that, whilst I was playing that game peacefully, walking, they were actually in my apartment storming the place and taking away the person I love.
And I have been wondering if this was entrapment. Funny, a CCTV camera appeared at the beginning of that week in front of our apartment, then the tree was taken off the building and thrown in our entrance door. A crisis occurs, an arrest is made, at least three lives have been utterly destroyed, perhaps irretrievably changed forever. It's that easy to get arrested, put in prison and be charged, whether you are guilty, or like in our case, innocent. The police does not make any distinction between the guilty and the innocent, more often I have seen them acting as if you were guilty without trial. Stephen was lying outside near death after the attack that night, the police had no reason to force their way into the apartment.
Stephen came back in some sort of shell shock state of being absolutely traumatised by what happened. It made me physically sick from this mental ordeal. I can't even describe the state I was in, I had never been in that state before, and I had no idea if in the next few days I would already feel better, or if it was all about to get worse. I was so terrified, I could no longer get the dog out for a pee. I preferred for her to do it on the carpet, because I was no longer opening that door.
At nearly 5 am that morning, unable to sleep, I called my dad in Canada, telling him pretty much what I have written here. He felt I should have gone to the police station and bugged them, let them know that time was of the essence, and they had better let him go. Because each single minute that he remained in custody whilst it was not truly justified, was a crime against all known laws about freedom and liberty.
When I think about those terrorist acts they recently established and are still trying to pass as well, to be able to keep in prison anyone for no reason, indefinitely, and had to settle on something like 46 days without having to justify anything to anyone! It drives me mad! As far as I know, despite George W. Bush and Tony Blair terrorist acts, the rights of the citizens still count for something. This is still a free democracy, even if it is just a pretend one.
They will be sorry for taking me on, because I certainly will make a lot of noise about this! I will create an international crisis! I expect total transparency and fairness from the police and the Ministry of Justice. And if we don't get it, I will start a crusade that will continue to rage long after my death!
A few days later I was still sick like a dog, even though I still tried to continue to survive as normal. The thought of going back to work the day after sent me off the wall. I could no longer suffer the view of my Line Manager, who cornered me when I took that day off the next day when Stephen was in prison. I was not allowed to tell her anything, nor did I want to tell her anything, but she certainly made a big deal out of it, and I had no choice, according to her, to tell her all my private problems and personal life. I said you can sack me, you can send me to any board you like, I will still not say the nature of the crisis which prevented me from coming to work on that Friday.
The affair of Stephen's arrest was taking a turn for the worse, because of police corruption and lies. It's funny, you get this image of the police on TV, nice guys and fair and all, you quickly realise that in real life they are nothing like that, they suppress evidence, they conveniently lose track of previous cases, they lie to you on the phone, they state homophobic or racist comments to get you angry so they can add a few more charges to your case, and most serious of all, they illegally enter your apartment without any kind of warrant or justification.
I have denounced the police a lot in my articles, they are going too far with their anti-terror laws now applied to us, and have granted themselves absolute powers and a surveillance network of cameras that is unsurpassed in history or in any other country. But I never thought for one second that personally I would be confronted with deceit, opened homophobia and illegal moves from the police.
Oh, they certainly succeeded with their public image. We were led to believe that the police act within the law, consider homophobia a serious crime, and that homophobia within the police had been eradicated. Well, one policeman made many homophobic comments that night, it is unthinkable!
The police requested the keys to our apartment to Stephen. He said he did not have them, they were inside. Not only at this point the police had no right to ask for these keys, since they had no right to go in the apartment, moreover no reason to go there, but once Stephen was inside the ambulance, they forced their way in. The whole door was broken, all the inside of the wall and the plastic corner thing, we could no longer shut the door. I arrived only perhaps an hour later to see the mess they left.
Then began the dance of the police. First they said that the police had entered our apartment, but how could they? They had no key. Suddenly they denied it, the police had never entered the apartment. Well, it so happen that after working for two years in a Court, I was able to find out that the police did indeed entered the apartment, and since there is only one way, breaking in, they have done it illegally.
Now, I know the law, not only they should never have entered without a warrant, unless Stephen had been inside and it was necessary to get to him (which was not the case), but also, they should never have left without padlocking the whole door. So, that is another serious lie from the police, and a serious indictable offence that could make a few police officers lose their job and be prosecuted in a court of justice.
After that it was a nightmare. Stephen was too traumatised by being knocked out, and by his single night in prison, to do anything. He more or less quit his new job. In prison he nearly froze to death, with only the lightest and smelliest ever blanket provided. They kept his coat. They also woke him up every single half hour for a reason or another.
I was reading on a website that, supposedly, the treatment of prisoners' guideline included the right to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, and certainly not freeze those prisoners to death. Stephen came out so sick, he was near death. I thought I would lose him. I asked him if the state he was in was due to his teeth being knocked out, but no, he said it was that night in prison that did it!
If this had gone to trial, we would have had to prove that the police entered our apartment illegally without a warrant, we would have had to prove the police lied, we would have had to prove the neighbours lied, we would have had to prove that homophobia was at the real root of this, not only from the neighbours but from the police as well, it was going to be such a nightmare. I had no doubt a jury would not have believed Stephen in such circumstances. And yet, what choice did we have? This whole thing nearly killed Stephen's mother.
The woman next door, she said the Police told her they went inside to get me. I was not there. And yet, I wonder how re-assuring this thought is, they broke in to get me! And I wonder... the full implications of this simple statement. Was I meant to be arrested as well, despite the fact that I could not possibly have been involved in any of this? Dear me, I can only imagine what would have happened if I had been there.
I wrote this article two years ago, and never sent it from fears of what the police might do as a consequence. But they leave me no choice, because it happened again recently. Not over a tree, but over a cat. A neighbour of ours stole our cat, and we can prove it, she's micro-chipped to us. Well, they lied again to the police, said we somehow dropped cat litter into their letter box (they don't lack imagination, I must admit), when in fact once again that other neighbour actually hit Stephen on the face, another assault with intent to cause actual bodily harm.
The next day I had the police at my door, extremely threatening, they freaked me out, saying loudly that they were arresting me and that I needed to get dressed. When they finally understood that they had the wrong man, they said that they needed to get in to see if my partner was not hiding inside. I refused to let them in, I asked them to show me their warrant. They told me that they did not need one if they thought I was harbouring the accused (who was in fact, once again, a victim), I would not let them in. Through lies again they forced their way past me, just to find out that I was telling the truth. I asked them again to show me those papers who gave them the right to enter our property illegally. They refused, since they had none.
A few days later the whole thing was dropped, when the police no doubt realised that we are not living in a nice area, our neighbours all have a list of antecedents as long as the building. But the damage was already done. Three times now the police entered our apartment without a warrant, I cannot speak about the third time yet, it is too recent.
If the police is willing to break the law and enter your apartment illegally over a broken tree and a stolen cat, can you imagine the length they will be willing to go to in any other circumstance? My God... The truth or justice don't matter to them, once a false accusation has been made, they will treat you as if you were guilty, they will treat you like a criminal, like an animal.
And even then, this is no way to even treat criminals, nearly killing them within one night in prison at the local police station. I really wonder if there are any rights and liberties left anywhere in the world, when considering that we are not safe from police harassment, including homophobia. And it saddens me greatly.
I will not be terrorised like this by our police force, especially when we are but the victims. Brace yourself as this can only be the tip of the iceberg. One thing is certain, somehow the Police can now enter your apartment without a warrant, whenever they feel you are in so weak a position that you could not possibly denounce it. And they are right, even without being in a weak position, how do you fight this? It's like living in some country where there is no rule of law. All I can do is to write this article and hope that it gets through. That you will realise what this means. Do you?
"Without irony, this life would hardly be worth living."
All previous political articles by Roland Michel Tremblay: http://www.themarginal.com/destructivism.htm