One hundred Idle No More protesters came to my office at the Toronto Sun on Saturday.
It was the usual rent-a-mob of professional protesters. Most were non-aboriginals, and I recognized several from the Occupy Toronto camp in 2011. And then there was the woman who shouted down our veterans last Remembrance Day.
I went down to talk with them with a couple of cameramen from the Sun News Network. Fifteen minutes in, a protester was telling me the sad story of his father passing away in Edmonton, when suddenly the police closed ranks around me, and whisked me down the sidewalk.
For a moment I thought maybe something dangerous happened outside of my field of vision that only the police saw. But I quickly realized that wasn't the case. They had just decided I was done.
What follows is a transcript of my conversation with the police, as recorded by our TV cameras, which continued rolling:
Me: "I don't want to leave the area."
Cop 1: "What we're trying to do here is create a little more safer environment."
Me: "But why would you take me away? My hands are in my pockets. I'm not shouting at anyone. How come I'm being taken away?"
Cop 1: "You're agitating a lot of people. There are a lot of people upset with you."
Me: "So if I got more upset would you take them away?"
Cop 1: "Well, you are one and that makes ..."
Me: "That makes it easier for you?"
Cop 1: "Well, it's easier for society."
Me: "It's not easier for my freedom of speech."
Cop 1: "No it isn't, but when you're going to aggravate a group of people like that, we're going to ask you politely to just move on, have your ways of speaking, but not aggravate 100 people."
Me: "Will you arrest me if I don't?"
Cop 1: "Is that what you're choosing? You're choosing to stay here and aggravate these people? The test is, when you aggravate a lot of people and then if it does become unlawful ... "
Me: "Is aggravating against the law? What section of the Criminal Code? Arrest me."
Cop 2: "We're not here to arrest anybody today."
Me: "Even if someone breaks the law?"
Cop 2: "We're not here to arrest anyone here today because we have spoken with the group of protesters, they have assured us they are here to be lawful and they have been working with us ..."
Me: "So you've been working with them?"
Cop 2: "We are here to facilitate everyone's peaceful protest."
Me: "Then how come you're asking me to leave and not them?"
Cop 2: "There are some situations where because what people may say or do agitates other people ... all we're asking you to do is exercise some good judgment."
And on it went.
But why should I be special? Last fall a Jew was detained by police for walking his dog by an anti-Semitic Iranian-backed rally at Queen's Park. Last month, at an illegal blockade, a Sarnia policeman, in uniform, actually joined the blockaders in a drumming circle. And for years, police have bullied people in Caledonia who dared to complain about trespassing Mohawk Warriors, while leaving the trespassers alone.
Maybe cops think this is the way to make friends of their enemies. But in doing so, they're making enemies out of their friends.