Snap. Ka-pow! Fat lip, but fat chance punch leads to charges

This article was written on August 3, 2011, by David Menzies, a Toronto Sun freelance writer

What constitutes
a physical assault in Toronto these days?

This would appear
to be straightforward. If, for example, one individual punches another, surely
that’s assault. Especially if the punch in question was witnessed. And

But as I learned
firsthand on Sunday, a fist in the face doesn’t necessarily constitute assault
in our increasingly culturally sensitive Toronto.

The details: I
was at Yonge-Dundas Square with my nine-year-old son. We ate pizza. We drank
bubble tea. And I used my new Canon camera to take photos of this neon shrine.

Suddenly, a woman
wearing a hijab ran toward me.

She was part of a
group that included two women wearing full face-covering burkas. She was
screaming: “We are Muslim! You do not take pictures of us!” (Odd.! can’t find
the “no photos” rule in the Qur’an.)

I informed the
lady I was in a public square in a democracy. I can actually take pictures of
whomever I please.

And then: Ka-pow!
Her fist collided with thy face. Worse, she almost knocked my new camera from
my hands.

My son and I were
then surrounded by a mob of about 20 people, many of whom were speaking Arabic.
One kept demanding I surrender my camera to him.

It was surreal.
Was I in Toronto – or Riyadh?

I spotted a group
of bicycle-mounted police officers. I burst through the mob with my son and
made a beeline towards them. I told a Toronto Police officer what had happened
and I wanted to press assault charges.

Better yet, a man
and a woman came forward as eyewitnesses.

The 50-something
couple, originally from Syria, told the police they had observed the entire
affair and my allegations were true. The couple said they understood Arabic and
knew what the mob was saying.

Spidey senses

Alas, my Spidey
senses started to tingle when I overheard the questions being asked of the
witnesses. “Was it a closed-fist punch or an open-hand? Was it the front or the
back of the hand?”

Huh? Physical
contact had been made. Why did severity matter?

After the officer
took my statement, he went over to the offending woman. Another constable was
inexplicably miffed I was (legally) taking photos in the first place. The
irony: Just above our heads a Toronto Police Service sphere was videotaping the

The officer
interrogated the woman. She was still hysterical. Good. The constable would
encounter firsthand what I had been forced to deal with earlier.

The cop walked
back to me. No charges would be laid, he said, because he believed the woman’s
story – namely, she was merely trying to knock the camera out of my hands.

Got that?
Apparently, attempted property damage is OK. If a face gets in the way of a
would-be vandalizing fist… hey, accidents happen.

The Syrian
eyewitnesses were speechless. I continued to plead my case.

Toronto Police
cruisers are emblazoned with the slogan, “To serve and protect” But
increasingly, the unofficial slogan seems closer to, “F.I.D.O.” (“Forget It;
Drive On.”)

The fact we have
Islamists living amongst us who despise western values isn’t news. But surely
you can’t just sock someone in the mouth.

Well, apparently
you can – as long as the intent of the aggressor was merely to inflict property

upside-down. Just thought you should know.

– Menzies Is a
freelance writer

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