Day: November 26, 2019

Romance scammer claims prison guards violated rights with unnecessary and frequent strip searches

A con man found guilty of defrauding a romantic partner of hundreds of thousands of dollars is set to argue the proceedings should be stayed because prison guards violated his rights with unnecessary and frequent strip searches.

In his application to Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice, Shaun Rootenberg argues the breach of his charter rights was significant enough to stop the case against him.

“Absent judicial condemnation, this systemic violation will only continue,” Rootenberg argues in his court filings. “(It) is a wide-scale and ongoing constitutional violation that the courts cannot condone.”

Police charged Rootenberg, of Thornhill, Ont., with fraud on June 6, 2017, saying he had used an internet dating site to lure victims. He was detained at Toronto South Detention Centre for seven months until winning bail.

“The applicant was subjected to hundreds of routine strip searches in humiliating and unlawful conditions,” his application states. “Strip searches were regularly conducted in the presence of other inmates and correctional officers, some of whom were female.”

The searches, Rootenberg asserts, were such an egregious violation of his rights that the extraordinary remedy of a stay is warranted — as other courts have at times concluded. He rejects Crown arguments that a sentence reduction could possibly be warranted, saying it wouldn’t remedy the situation.

In July, Superior Court Justice Beth Allen found Rootenberg guilty of defrauding Victoria Smith out of $595,000. The divorced mother of two had given him the money in 2013 to invest on her behalf. Instead, Allen found, he had used the funds to buy himself a new BMW and pay off gambling debts, among other things.

Last month, Allen refused to declare a mistrial amid his arguments that she was biased. However, she allowed him to mount his constitutional challenge, to be heard starting Wednesday.

Rootenberg, who was sentenced to three and a half years for fraud in 2005, also argues a stay is warranted because the prosecution failed to disclose materials in a timely fashion.

The current case also initially involved another of Rootenberg’s romantic partners, Dr. Kim Barker, the former medical officer of health for the Algoma Public Health Unit in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., who knew him as Shaun Rothberg. The Crown did not proceed on those charges.

Barker has been fighting to keep secret an embarrassing report on her hiring Rootenberg in 2013 to be the health unit’s chief financial officer. The Supreme Court of Canada has yet to say if it will hear her bid to keep the report under wraps.

In his stay application, Rootenberg argues he was routinely strip-searched despite never having been accused of offences involving violence or drugs. The searches, he says, occurred both before and after court appearances, professional visits, and after finishing his shift on the work range.

He says other inmates, correctional staff including women, and even passersby could see prisoners being searched.

“Strip-searching inmates in this manner is degrading and humiliating, and only heightens the already mortifying experience,” he says.

Rootenberg was ordered released on bail in January 2018 but detained again for three months at the Toronto East Detention Centre, where he was again strip-searched.

Courts have repeatedly stated the importance of ensuring such searches be carried out in maximum privacy. In addition, the Supreme Court has made it clear they are highly intrusive and humiliating, and need to be done carefully.

Strip searches in Ontario jails were subject to an independent review in 2017, which called their use “particularly troubling.” The Office of the Independent Police Review Director similarly identified widespread concerns.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2019

@repost Marital Separation

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source https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/romance-scammer-claims-prison-guards-violated-rights-with-unnecessary-and-frequent-strip-searches-1.4703277

By The Wall of Law November 26, 2019 Off

Found guilty, romance scammer wants stay over in-custody strip searches

TORONTO — A con man found guilty of defrauding a romantic partner of hundreds of thousands of dollars is set to argue the proceedings should be stayed because prison guards violated his rights with unnecessary and frequent strip searches.

In his application to Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice, Shaun Rootenberg argues the breach of his charter rights was significant enough to stop the case against him.

“Absent judicial condemnation, this systemic violation will only continue,” Rootenberg argues in his court filings. “(It) is a wide-scale and ongoing constitutional violation that the courts cannot condone.”

Police charged Rootenberg, of Thornhill, Ont., with fraud on June 6, 2017, saying he had used an internet dating site to lure victims. He was detained at Toronto South Detention Centre for seven months until winning bail.

“The applicant was subjected to hundreds of routine strip searches in humiliating and unlawful conditions,” his application states. “Strip searches were regularly conducted in the presence of other inmates and correctional officers, some of whom were female.”

The searches, Rootenberg asserts, were such an egregious violation of his rights that the extraordinary remedy of a stay is warranted — as other courts have at times concluded. He rejects Crown arguments that a sentence reduction could possibly be warranted, saying it wouldn’t remedy the situation.

In July, Superior Court Justice Beth Allen found Rootenberg guilty of defrauding Victoria Smith out of $595,000. The divorced mother of two had given him the money in 2013 to invest on her behalf. Instead, Allen found, he had used the funds to buy himself a new BMW and pay off gambling debts, among other things.

Last month, Allen refused to declare a mistrial amid his arguments that she was biased. However, she allowed him to mount his constitutional challenge, to be heard starting Wednesday.

Rootenberg, who was sentenced to three and a half years for fraud in 2005, also argues a stay is warranted because the prosecution failed to disclose materials in a timely fashion.

The current case also initially involved another of Rootenberg’s romantic partners, Dr. Kim Barker, the former medical officer of health for the Algoma Public Health Unit in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., who knew him as Shaun Rothberg. The Crown did not proceed on those charges.

Barker has been fighting to keep secret an embarrassing report on her hiring Rootenberg in 2013 to be the health unit’s chief financial officer. The Supreme Court of Canada has yet to say if it will hear her bid to keep the report under wraps.

In his stay application, Rootenberg argues he was routinely strip-searched despite never having been accused of offences involving violence or drugs. The searches, he says, occurred both before and after court appearances, professional visits, and after finishing his shift on the work range.

He says other inmates, correctional staff including women, and even passersby could see prisoners being searched.

“Strip-searching inmates in this manner is degrading and humiliating, and only heightens the already mortifying experience,” he says. 

Rootenberg was ordered released on bail in January 2018 but detained again for three months at the Toronto East Detention Centre, where he was again strip-searched.

Courts have repeatedly stated the importance of ensuring such searches be carried out in maximum privacy. In addition, the Supreme Court has made it clear they are highly intrusive and humiliating, and need to be done carefully.

Strip searches in Ontario jails were subject to an independent review in 2017, which called their use “particularly troubling.” The Office of the Independent Police Review Director similarly identified widespread concerns.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2019

Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press

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source https://toronto.citynews.ca/2019/11/26/found-guilty-romance-scammer-wants-stay-over-in-custody-strip-searches/

By The Wall of Law November 26, 2019 Off

No thanks: Native Americans to hold 50th gathering of grief

PLYMOUTH, Mass. — Happy Thanksgiving to you in the land your forefathers stole.

That’s the in-your-feast message Native Americans are preparing to send as they convene their 50th annual National Day of Mourning in the seaside town where the Pilgrims settled.

United American Indians of New England has held the solemn remembrance on every Thanksgiving Day since 1970 to recall what organizers describe as “the genocide of millions of native people, the theft of native lands and the relentless assault on native culture.”

But Thursday’s gathering will have particular resonance — and, indigenous people say, a fresh sense of urgency.

Plymouth is putting the final touches on next year’s 400th anniversary commemorations of the Pilgrims’ landing in 1620. And as the 2020 events approach, descendants of the Wampanoag tribe that helped the newcomers survive are determined to ensure the world doesn’t forget the disease, racism and oppression the European settlers brought.

“We talk about the history because we must,” said Mahtowin Munro, a co-leader of the group.

“The focus is always on the Pilgrims. We’re just going to keep telling the truth,” she said. “More and more nonnative people have been listening to us. They’re trying to adjust their prism.”

As they have on every Thanksgiving for the past half-century, participants will assemble at noon on Cole’s Hill, a windswept mound overlooking Plymouth Rock, a memorial to the colonists’ arrival.

Beneath a giant bronze statue of Massasoit, the Wampanoag leader in 1620, Native Americans from tribes around New England will beat drums, offer prayers and read speeches before marching through Plymouth’s historic district, joined by dozens of sympathetic supporters.

Organizers say they’ll also call attention to the plight of missing and murdered indigenous women, as well as government crackdowns on migrants from Latin America and the detentions of children. Promotional posters proclaim: “We didn’t cross the border — the border crossed us!”

Past gatherings have mourned lives lost to the nationwide opioid addiction crisis, shown solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and condemned environmental degradation.

The tradition was born of Plymouth’s last big birthday bash in 1970 — a 350th anniversary commemoration that triggered angry demonstrations by native people excluded from a decidedly Pilgrim-focused observance.

Since then, the National Day of Mourning has become a louder, prouder and increasingly multiethnic affair in the community nicknamed “America’s Hometown.”

Although mostly peaceable, there has been tension. In 1997, 25 protesters were arrested after their march through town erupted into a melee with police.

There have also been colorful moments. Over the decades, activists have ceremonially buried Plymouth Rock in sand, boarded the Mayflower II — a replica of the ship that carried the English settlers to the New World — and draped Ku Klux Klan garb on a statue of William Bradford, a Pilgrim father who eventually became governor of the Plymouth Bay Colony.

In a likeminded tradition dating to 1975, tribes in the San Francisco area hold a similar ceremony called Unthanksgiving Day, gathering at sunrise on Alcatraz Island to recall how Native Americans occupied the island in protest for 19 months starting in November 1969.

Francis Bremer, a Pilgrim scholar and professor emeritus of history at Pennsylvania’s Millersville University, thinks the nation is becoming more receptive “to a side of the story that’s too often been ignored.”

“Fifty years ago, for nonnative people, these were uncomfortable truths they didn’t want to hear. Now they’re necessary truths,” he said.

To help right old wrongs, Munro’s coalition is pushing what it calls the Massachusetts Indigenous Legislative Agenda. Among other things, the campaign includes a proposal to redesign the state flag, which critics say is repressive. It depicts a muscular arm wielding a broadsword over a Native American holding a bow.

Paula Peters, a Wampanoag writer and activist who isn’t a member of the group that organizes the public mourning, sees progress in getting Americans to look past the Thanksgiving myth of Pilgrims and natives coexisting peacefully.

“We have come a long way,” she said. “We continue to honour our ancestors by taking our history out of the margins and into the forefront.”

___

Follow Bill Kole on Twitter at https://twitter.com/billkole .

William J. Kole, The Associated Press




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source https://toronto.citynews.ca/2019/11/26/no-thanks-native-americans-to-hold-50th-gathering-of-grief/

By The Wall of Law November 26, 2019 Off

How Poetry Helped Jordon Veira ‘Empty’ His Heart And Become The Man He Wanted To Be

Listen: David Lewis-Peart introduces this second instalment in our series on the lives of Black men. Music: Driftnote. Audio editing: Omar Rivero. Audiograms: Al Donato.

Jamaican-Canadian multi-disciplinary artist Jordon Veira was founder of The Heard, a social enterprise that platformed the arts, working primarily with marginalized students in the greater Toronto area. Under Jordon’s leadership, The Heard delivered workshops, training and arts-based empowerment programs for youth.

While moving through chronic illness and childhood trauma, Jordon was able to champion his own story in the name of personal and collective healing. Just before his death, he completed the near final-touches on his autobiographical book and hip-hop/spoken word visual album entitled, “A Black Boy’s Brain.” The remaining work is being completed by Jordon’s loved ones. Jordon Veira died in June 2019, following an asthma attack. This interview was conducted in 2018.  

What is Black masculinity?

Black masculinity is a spectrum, and as far I’ve experienced it, that spectrum is wide and deep, much wider and deeper than, as individuals and sometimes as cultures, we allow ourselves to perceive.

One of my favourite quotes, I think it is Toni Morrison (Editor’s note: the quote is from bell hooks), talks about some of the earliest processes of patriarchy being emotional self-mutilation in young men – that has been a process that to this day I actively am healing from. It is not an easy concept to unlearn, because it informs how you show up in the world in small ways and in large ways.As Black men, we are not given as much license to express the spectrum of our emotional realities and have to shrink ourselves into what is socially acceptable.

What did you first learn about Black manhood?

The things that informed my ideas of Black masculinity [when I was young] were Christianityand [absorbing] a lot of patriarchal ideas of masculinity and the role of men in families from the church. As well,my father is Jamaican Canadian, so, absorbing the Jamaican culture in music and in media, and in dialogue with other community members.

Those ideas of masculinity all sort of informed this perspective that I had, that as a Black man I had to be hard, I had to be strong, I had to be cold. I had to be a hunter for everything that I wanted, be it sex or power or money, I had to go out and use whatever was at my disposal to get and take and build and own and have.

Listen: Jordon Veira on how his parents divorce shaped his childhood ideas of manhood. Story continues below. 

 

What are you presently learning or unlearning about Black masculinity?

Throughout my entire life, my poetry has always been a tool for my healing, it has always been a tool for self-discovery.

Jordon Viera

I remember when I was around maybe 13 or 14, I discovered Def Poetry Jam on YouTube, and I would go home from school every day, and I would watch maybe four to six hours of spoken word every day. Often watching the same poems over and over again, at the time I didn’t identify myself as a spoken-word artist. Definitely looking back, I was writing poetry back then, but it was more just out of practice of trying to empty my heart. 

Masculinity was probably the earliest concept that I wrote about; I had a poem called “Violent Moments,” where I talked about when my cousin got shot, and what leads young Black men to violence. And I remember when he got shot, I felt so afraid, to the point where I was in an emotional place and I wrote this poem. 

 Listen: Jordon performs “Violent Moments.” Story continues below. 

I remember getting to a point in my young adult life where I felt completely inundated by these ideas of masculinity. I was about 16 and I wrote this poem called,“What Is A Man?” And I put it up on my Facebook and it got like 26 likes. I thought I was famous. I think since then I’ve always had that sort of question in my art, it’s always been a sort of search or a challenge and a query: What is acceptable? What is unacceptable? Why are these lines created? Why are these ideas so pervasive within our community?

I’ve always tried to stretch and create more room for, the spectrum of Black masculinity in my relationships as well as in my art.

My organization, The Heard, has a project called the Black Boy Brave Project. We’ve been running it for a couple of years in middle schools throughout the GTA, and we do a lot of advocacy work with young Black youth. It has been phenomenal to create this platform that allows young Black men to express themselves, to express things that they didn’t necessarily have the space or the license to do so.

 Listen: Jordon talks about the important role art plays in shaping masculinity. Story continues below.

I recognize that whether you are a man or a woman or you are trans or you don’t identify with a gender, no matter what your race is, no matter where you come from, in just surviving this human life we incur a lot of damage. We experience a lot of pain.

So a few years ago,I developed asthma. I got really sick,I stopped sleeping, I wasn’t eating properly. I was really depressed.I would get these episodes where I couldn’t breathe in the night up to six, seven hours at night. And then throughout the day, it got really bad.

During this time, I continued running my organization, producing events, collecting different artists, getting us together, doing a lot of arts education and advocacy work. And whenever I’m on stage, it’s like I have no symptoms, I have no anxiety, no fear, it’s just like I am pure. The same thing when I am working with youth — it is like medicine, almost, for me.

So, doing that over the years I burnt out several times, I developed a fungus infection in my sinuses and my brain area and so I had to get brain surgery. And that brought me to a point where I guess I hit a wall, I couldn’t work at all, I couldn’t create, I couldn’t think, I couldn’t move, and all of a sudden had to prioritize my self-care.

At the beginning of 2017 I started this project. I did a show called the Self Care Project and it sort of bled into my 2017 and I started this personal journey of self-care. I had to prioritize my mental health, my physical health, my spiritual health over the community, over my business, over my dream, over all of these other things — my family, my friends. 

Everything I learned about Black masculinity got flipped upside down when I got sick and I realized I was vulnerable. I realized that I was mortal

I gave myself permission for the first time to need myself and to say no to everybody else and everything else. That’s been a hard process, but you know, on the other side of it, I feel so blessed. I feel like when I go out and have conversations about healing, people look at me strange. Like, you are a Black man and you are talking about healing? That’s so weird.

Healing is a fundamental part of everybody’s experience.

Healing is a fundamental part of everybody’s experience. So that is sort of what my mission is as an artist, is to get people to realize that it is not just about succeeding, it is not just about gaining things in life or trying to be popular or trying to be rich. The richness of your life is in your health, it is in your mental health, it is in the health of your relationships.

Listen: Jordon performs a poem on the stereotypes and systems he has to face and interrogate as a young Black man.

I’ve been planting truth in my verses, the truth that was sent to me by the greatest of orators. I hope history mentions me, but when I get to heaven I’ll ask Biggie to mentor me, tell 2Pac to his face everything that he meant to me. And if you get there first, tell Uncle Bob he can send for me, I see you on the other side because this is far from the end for me.

In this series on Black masculinity, we speak to a number of Black men on what masculinity means to them, what they have learned or are in the process of unlearning, and how Black manhood reimagined has presented itself in their lives and work.

Also on HuffPost: 

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source https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/black-masculinity-jordon-veira_ca_5dcd8443e4b03a7e0296a1c1

By The Wall of Law November 26, 2019 Off