The Accused is an innocent man
Erin Pizzey recently said Canada was the worse place in the world to be a man. She said the presumption of guilt was so strong men would shy away from women in elevators incase that were falsely accused of “something”. I believe this story is proof that being male in Canada somehow makes you guilty. No need to worry about what you are guilty of, they will come up with something. It is also known people with a mental illness are more likely to be fed through the criminal justice conveyer belt.
So if you are a man with a mental illness, the system will come after you sooner or later. This is one example.
Andy Fiore is a talented award winning documentary film maker. Not only has he won awards for his films, he also won British Colombia’s Courage to Come Back award last year in recognition of his courage in overcoming a heroin addiction on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, before going on to successfully manage his mental illness and become a documentary filmmaker. None of this can have been easy and as people who have turned there life around after adversity know, this will always be fine balancing act.
Andy was shopping for food at the London Drugs store on East Hastings Street at Penticton Street and the clerk accused him of stealing cigarettes a few days earlier. Normally a accusation of theft requires something I like to call proof. You know, being caught outside the shop with the goods in your possession. That was not going to be possible when the supposed theft was committed days ago. Perhaps CCTV footage of the incident and a photograph for ease of identity. In this case there was non of that. Just the Given that Andy was a regular shopper in the store the clerk. Thats a strange form evidence when it is used as a compelling presumption of guilt.
Andy admits he is not proud of what happened next and could have handled it better, however I think he did as well as anyone else in his circumstances and better than most could have hoped to. For someone with a illness that makes them believe people are following them with the intention of making a false accusation Andy’s reaction was the least that could be expected. With the Clerk calling him a thief and the store manager circling him like a shark the experience triggered a a relapse of his mental illness, which had been tightly controlled and medicated. His anger boiled over and he lost control, swore at staff, punched a computer monitor and left. It is a fact that when you are going to accuse someone of a crime it should be done in a controlled manor and there should be a suitable level of investigation before any investigation. This is the reason store dectitves are provided with specialised training. Had any of this happened in a professional manner Andy’s outburst would not have happened.
This is where crazy begins. Andy’s partner phoned both the store and the police. The police visited him at his home and interviewed him. Andy then left his house to demand a apology from London Drugs. On the way there the police intercepted him and when he got out of the car he was handcuffed and arrested him.
Upon the arrest the officer lent into his ear and whispered he was a “piece of shit”.
London Drugs general manager for loss prevention Tony Hunt said he has apologized for the wrongful accusation on the phone and in person on Saturday, when he visited Fiore’s home. However, Fiore declined his offer of three bags of free groceries. He farther stated “Clearly we insulted him and we wrongfully accused him of stealing,” They have taken action including suspending the member of staff and retraining other members of staff. Andy however is still being charged with “making a threat”
This leads to some questions
With the store admitting there wrongdoings, taking action on the staff member, offering free groceries, would they not also be dropping charges ?
If, as I suspect the store are not pressing charges who is pushing this process ? and why.
Could it be the fact Andy is a man with a mental illness, and described as a “peace of shit” by the arresting officer be the reason for this prosecution ?
Lastly, how do we come to a situation where in the same week a Award Winning Film Makers future is on the line due to a outburst in a store where no one was attacked and he was not the instigator of the event and when Solange Knowles can attack her brother in law, land blows and that results in publicity for her and no police involvement ?
At some stage the world has got to applying one standard of law enforcement to everyone. We must begin to treat everyone with respect and a presumption of innocence unless there is clear proof. Even if they are male, even if they have a mental illness. Andy was denied this presumption and the results of that rash decision have been horrendous. Unless we begin to speak out against these injustices they will continue, so I urge you to spread this story through social media. The link below is of the CBC News item, this gives more detail and is a easy and verifiable way to post this onto social media of your choice.
Thanks in advance for sharing.
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