Campbell pledges to restrict police use of deadly force

Ottawa responds to concern that Criminal Code rules are 'too broad'

Parliamentary Bureau

OTTAWA-The federal government will impose tougher restrictions on the use of deadly force by Canadian police officers, Justice Minister Kim Campbell has promised.

There are concerns that the current rules in the Criminal Code are "too broad" and could allow excessive force by police officers, Ms. Campbell told reporters yesterday.

She was responding to questions about the fatal shooting of a black man, Raymond Constantine Lawrence, 22, in Toronto on the weekend. Constable Robert Rice shot him twice in the chest after he allegedly threatened the undercover officer with a knife at the end of a foot chase in a west-end neighbourhood. Some crack cocaine was found in Mr. Lawrence's possession, police have said.

In the past four years, eight blacks have been shot by police officers in the Metro Toronto region. Four of them were killed.

The Ontario Special Investigations Unit, which investigates all incidents involving the shooting or serious wounding of a civilian by a police officer, said yesterday that in all of 1991 except January, it investigated 70 incidents. About one-third of those involved Metro Toronto police officers. No racial breakdown was immediately available but SIU head John Osler said last night that the Premier's office has asked him for detailed information on the history of the SIU.

Under the current "fleeing-felon rule" in the Criminal Code, police are authorized to use force in conducting an arrest when the safety of police officers is at risk.

"There is some concern that the rule is broad, and I am hoping to bring forward legislation within the next few months to deal with the concern that people have about the breadth of that rule," Ms. Campbell told the House Of Commons yesterday.

Police officers "need to have a clear sense of what their limitations are," Ms. Campbell added later.

The proposed legislation could spark a battle with Canada's police associations. "Any move that would restrict an already restricted police force with regard to the use of force can be quite harmful to the members," said Michael Dungey, executive vice-president of the Canadian Police Association, which represents 35,000 police officers.

"This is a political move by Ms. Campbell to appease the members of the Afro- Canadian community who appear to be upset by so-called racist acts by the Metro Toronto police department," Mr. Dungey said.

Deadly force is sometimes necessary "to stop this rampage of crime in various communities," Mr. Dungey said. "I don't think we've misused it. Unless Ms. Campbell can show our association the error of our ways, then I'd have some grave concerns about why she's putting these amendments at this time."

Fred Schultz, executive director of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, said the existing rules on the use of deadly force are completely adequate. "There's no need to change it," he said. "We feel it's fine the way it is."

But the proposed legislation was welcomed by New Democrat MP Howard McCurdy. "Obviously there are needs to be closer regulation," he told reporters yesterday.

"There have been reported incidents of inappropriate use of firearms in connection with the apprehension of blacks, native people and Asians. It is the selectivity of the pattern that causes us concern."

Mr. McCurdy, the only black MP in the House of Commons, said it was difficult to understand why the Toronto police officer would use a gun to kill a suspect armed only with a butcher knife.

"Most people would say, shoot him in the leg, shoot him in the arm, but it's not necessary to kill someone. There are all kinds of alternatives to shooting to kill. The black community is getting the message that the cops are the trial, judge and executioner."

Mr. McCurdy said his own children are afraid of being stopped by the police at any time. "This legislation would reduce the fear that if you're stopped, and you express the fact that you're not very happy about it, you won't get shot for it."

'Liberal' policies blamed for riots

Bush aide hints at campaign line

Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON-Last week's Los Angeles riots are the result of failed social programs of the 1960s and 1970s, the White House charged yesterday, staking out President George Bush's election-year stand on the uprisings.

"We believe that many of the root problems that have resulted in inner-city difficulties were started in the sixties and seventies, and that they have failed," White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said.

When asked why Mr. Bush or former president Ronald Reagan had not altered the policies, Mr. Fitzwater said that Congress had blocked such moves.

Despite repeated questioning, Mr. Fitzwater would not detail what programs he was attacking, but said that Mr. Bush would now push for policies that give people a stake in their communities.

"We're talking about a basic concept. How do you keep people from wanting to riot and tear down their communities?"

As in Canada, the federal government supoorts welfare and some health care, although services are delivered by the states. The most expensive of these are payments to poor mothers, public housing assistance and food stamps.

It has been an article of conservative faith for several years that federal money spent on direct payments encourages dependency, and that this cycle can be broken through vouchers and ownership programs.

Housing Secretary Jack Kemp has been among the most ardent supporters of this approach, but until now the Bush administration has not been particularly active in pursuit of the enthusiasms of Mr. Kemp, a once and future presidential candidate.

In fact, the major thrusts of Republican policy have been attempts to reduce spending for housing and other programs that survive from the the(sic) 1960s "war on poverty."

As President, however, Mr. Bush needs a program, and he is embracing Mr. Kemp's proposals to sell public-housing units to tenants and to set up tax-free enterprise zones in inner cities. The White House also announced yesterday that up to $600-million in federal aid would be available to victims of the Los Angeles uprising, and has dispatched a task force to recommend further measures. Mr. Kemp is not part of the team.

Mr. Bush will visit Los Angeles on Thursday and Friday to demonstrate his concern, a trip that Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton, his probable Democratic Party rival, made yesterday.

Despite the administration's professions of concern, Mr. Fitzwater's attack on "failed liberal programs" is a throwback to the traditional Republican attack on welfare spending.

Democrats immediately charged that the White House was indulging in race-baiting.

"It's the same old code words for black folks," one congressional aide said yesterday. "And it's that sort of divisive approach that leads to events like those we saw last week."

But there is no question that Republicans have profited politically from those tactics.

Richard Nixon wrested the White House from the Democrats in 1968 in an era when "law and order" was the phrase that implicitly promised a tough line on black rioters. In the 1988 presidential campaign, Mr. Bush's use of Willie Horton, a convicted murderer who raped a woman while on furlough from prison, was a version of the same thing.

Mr. Clinton may be particularly vulnerable to this attack. One of the Arkansan's greatest strengths has been his ability to appeal to both blacks and the blue-collar whites who have traditionally been most fearful of civil rights.

"You'd have to say that this doesn't look great for Clinton, but there are still six months until the election," said the congressional aide. "And, who knows, maybe this country is ready to face up to its problems."

Demonstrators trash city centre

Protest for black justice turns to looting

Regional Police Reporter

TORONTO-Demonstrators protesting against the treatment of blacks in the justice system went on a rampage in downtown Toronto last night. By the time they were dispersed by police, Yonge Street looked as if it had been hit by a tornado.

Windows were smashed, vendors' wagons were overturned, their food spilling on to sidewalks, newspaper boxes and garbage cans were toppled.

Avtar Singh looked on helplessly as protesters smashed the window of his stereo store and looted its entire contents, including 300 watches. The police had warned him about the approaching mob and he had locked the door.

At some stores, the protesters merely broke windows. At others they threw merchandise out on the street.

At Nick's Sport Shop on Yonge Street near Wellesley Street, police said guns were taken but not returned.

Several hundred demonstrators, nearly equally divided between black and white, broke several windows at Toronto City Hall before smashing windows at The Eaton Centre. The shopping mall was closed off by security officers.

The demonstration began peacefully about 4 p.m. About 500 people met in front of the U.S. consulate at 360 University Ave. to protest against the shooting of Raymond Constantine Lawrence, 22, by a Metro Toronto Police officer on Saturday as well as last week's acquittal of four white Los Angeles police officers in the beating of Rodney King, a black carpenter.

Earlier yesterday, Ontario's Special Investigations Unit identified Mr. Lawrence as having been born in the Parish of St. Mary, Jamaica, a small town near Kingston.

The unit, appointed by the province to investigate shootings involving police, said police fired a warning shot in a last-ditch attempt to subdue Mr. Lawrence.

Protest quickly got out of hand

Mr. Lawrence, the unit said, was a suspected drug dealer who was brandishing a knife as he closed in on Constable Rice.

Constable Rice fired two shots at close range into Mr. Lawrence's chest. Paramedics found some crack cocaine on Mr. Lawrence, the investigations unit said.

The protest began to get out of hand when the crowd rushed rushed(sic) four white men carrying signs reading "L.A. burns; TO next" and "We denounce racist murder of whites."

The crowd smashed the signs and police arrested three of the men. One escaped.

A police officer said, "We're just trying to get them in here for safety reasons. The crowd certainly didn't want to shake their hands."

The crowd moved several blocks east to City Hall. Protesters threw rocks, eggs and cans at the windows of offices above the front entrance to the building, shattering two office windows. City councillors were taking a dinner break during their regular meeting.

The protesters were barred from entering City Hall by a phalanx of police officers on horseback.

The crowd surged north, nearly doubling in size. About 1,000 people disrupted rush-hour traffic in the heart of the city by sitting in the intersection of Yonge and Bloor streets.

Dudley Laws, one of the founders of the Black Action Defence Committee, told the group that in the United States, police officers had only beaten Mr. King. But in Canada, he said, the police have killed several people.

He said that the black community is frustrated and angry at the killing of Mr. Lawrence. "We have to denounce racism," he said. "We're ready to take action and we will take action to make sure racism, which has plagued this country, will be stopped."

Mr. Laws said that Metro Toronto Police are trying to justify Saturday's shooting by saying the victim was involved in a drug act. "Every time a black is killed, police always say he's a criminal," Mr. Laws said.

"We won't sleep, and we won't stop until racism is eliminated from our society."

His comments and those of other speakers were greeted by cheers, applause and chants.

The speakers called for the immediate resignation of Police Chief William McCormack, police association president Arthur Lymer and John Osler, head of the Special Investigations Unit.

"We cannot condone the actions of the police," Mr. Laws said.

Throughout the afternoon, the crowd kept chanting "No justice, no peace."

(article was accompanied on front page with [PETER TYM/The Globe and Mail] photograph of onlookers inspecting smashed window, captioned:

Passer-by talks to salesman in Yonge Street shoe store after protesters became unruly and began smashing windows along Toronto's main street.)

(article was continued on page 5, accompanied by (TIBOR KELLY/service) photograph of police-demonstrator confrontation, captioned:

As blacks demonstrate in front of the U.S. consulate in Toronto yesterday, whites show up with a sign reading "We denounce racist murder of whites." The crowd attacked verbally and physically.)

(text of excerpt from May 5, 1992 Globe and Mail front-page)