Last week, Atlanta’s finest gave a Canadian tourist visiting our fine city a sense of true American justice. Randy Kanuick was visiting Atlanta from his native province of Saskatchewan. He was heading to the Atlanta Braves Toronto Blue Jays baseball gave Wednesday with his nephew, when he got into a fender bender on the way to the ballpark. The Atlanta Police Department quickly arrives on the scene. The officer charged Randy with failure to maintain a lane (Randy said that he was trying to get around a stopped delivery truck). Shortly after, Randy was cuffed and taken to the Fulton County jail, where he was forced to go in front of a magistrate and had to place bond after spending 6 hours in a cell. Randy’s 22 year old nephew was left off the side of the highway and ended up missing the baseball game.
Randy’s overall fine was $75 and his bond was $158 (that’s American not Canadian dollars). In the squad car on the way to the jail, Randy questioned the arresting officer, only to be told that he was being arrested because he is a foreigner from Canada and therefore might leave the state without paying the fine. When questioned by local news outlets, an Atlanta Police Department spokesperson offered a canned explanation about the department’s ability to arrest anyone that committed a traffic violation.
Shortly after the incident, Canadian news outlets picked up the story and accused the Atlanta police department of targeting and discriminating against foreign visitors. Their reaction is startlingly naïve to residents of this city that have had to live under the tyrannical rule of Atlanta PD for too long.
To any objective observer, the Atlanta Police Department is a lawless, unaccountable institution, engaged in systemic violence and brutalization of its citizens. The department refuses to police its own and the often corrupt, racist officers are beholden to a code of silence where even the worst kind of misconduct goes unpunished. For example in 2013, a cell phone video captured officers striking an African American man multiple times as he lay on the ground. The video shows a clear case of police brutality. However, Chief of Police George Turner responded that “the individual was continuing to resist the arrest,” a conclusion that could have only been reached if Turner completely ignored the contents of the video. Earlier, off duty police officer Jose Vidal slugged a woman at a Buckhead IHOP restaurant in an attempt to arrest her. After the brutal video made its way to YouTube, the police department moved Vidal to desk duty, but refused to fire him. Eventually, they cleared Jose Vidal of any wrongdoing, but not before the victim filed several lawsuits against the city seeking damages.
The Atlanta Police Department is an organization in need of reform. If brutal beatings and unprovoked shootings will not cause politicians and department leadership to demand change, perhaps a minor fender bender involving a Canadian will. Randy Kanuick, for his part, vows to never return to Atlanta and to spend his hard earned dollars elsewhere.