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Gangs of Saskatoon:
the police and prison guards

Editorial, March 2003

Since I came to Saskatoon in 1971, I have witnessed the actions of the police — both the local police and the mounties. Drug busts were incredibly brutal in those days. The cops would bust down doors, dump the contents of kitchen cupbooards all over the floor and haul whoever they chose from the group off to jail. Those who paid lawyers got deals. Those who didn't did time and many became refugees in other provinces.

They did the same with politicos, stopping our cars and ransacking our leaflets and books, scaring the bejeezus out of us. As a politico I stayed away from drugs because if drugs were found in one of these shakedowns, you were doubly punished. I was a member of a Trotskyist group at that time and they would not defend anyone who was associated with drugs. Truth is they did a piss poor job of defending me for anything, but that is another story.

I personally experienced an incredible shakedown at the border in North Portal in 1971 which I'll describe in more detail in my blog/autobiog.

The rumour in Saskatoon was that the Police ran the drugs. In those days it was pot and acid. Heroin and cocaine would come much later. I have first person accounts from several people who gave me names and details about the cops who were controlling the drugs. I have tried to persuade these people to tell what they know on the record but they are scared. Eventually it may come to pass as many things do.

As for the Mounties, they are right in on all of it. Rapes of Native women by mounties and others in positions of white power in the North were going on long before Jack Ramsay was nailed for it. It is still going on.

For now I am stuck in slum housing in a neighbourhood which is the most crime ridden in Canada. Eight blocks away a "home invasion" by alleged members of the Indian Posse gang stormed a house and shot four people. Yes, I know the Indian Posse exists just as I know Hells Angels exist in Saskatoon.

The Indian Posse are involved with penny-ante drugs and prostitution. They have emerged as a force in Saskatchewan lock-ups, jails and prisons because a huge proportion of the people we lock up in Saskatchewan are Native. They have appropriated red as their colour. They do not have the social consciousness we see represented in movies like Blood in, Blood Out about L.A. Latino gangs or the many stories which have emerged since Attica was shown to be a place where black/white relations were turned upside down. They are race based and have many legitimate grievances to back up their hate talk.

Just as the LAPD was eventually exposed for having been responsible for a lot of crime and covering up of crime, not to mention taking brags and kick-backs, this all 20 years after Serpico, so Saskatoon's day will also come. We have had Detroit TV news blasting into our living rooms ever since we got cable TV, around 1974. It used to be shocking. Now we have our own local version of it.

Brian Dueck

Our Police chief is on paid leave as they investigate an allegation he made smooshy remarks to a co-worker. Acting Inspector Atkinson is on TV warning Saskatoon residents to expect more gang-related activity, while in the same breath saying "Gangs are not a problem". The ranking Superintendent is Brian Dueck, who some might remember as having threatened postal worker Kim Cooper with a visit to his home by Hells Angels.

There is more connecting of the dots to do here. Some fairly strong inferences can be made, though, about who are the really dangerous gangs in Saskatoon.

-- Sheila Steele, March 27, 2003


Update

Since I wrote this editorial, Chief Sabo came off leave and has done some heavy lifting. He didn't fire Dueck but at least Brian Dueck had to walk away before the new year when he would have been able to add another 10 per cent to his pension.

Brian Dueck

Deputy Chief Wiks is under investigation for discreditable conduct for lying to the media about police involvement in Neil Stonechild's death. In doing this, Wiks lied not only to the media and the public but to Chief Sabo, as well.

The chief was new and had to accept what he was told from persons pledged to tell the truth. Hatchen and Munson are gone and Senger and Hartwig have also been fired, although there is still a movement afoot, headed by retired constable Larry Lockwood and union chief Stan Goertzen to reverse this.

Larry Lockwood

The most dangerous gang in Saskatoon is the one led by these forces. Meanwhile Saskatchewan has been shown to have been incarcerating our youth at a rate three or four times that of other provinces. There are no opportunities for these young people who run afoul of the law, usually starting out as petty thieves, getting into a bit of drug dealing and then, depending on their temperaments getting into dangerous drugs and acting out more or less dangerously.

We are told that crystal meth, which can apparently be made fairly cheaply, is a major problem in Saskatchewan with young people from cities to farm communities to the northern reserves getting in on the bucks to be made from their addicted friends.

This problem has been getting worse and worse as the police devote themselves to more self-interested activities like undermining a chief who wants to clean things up. They yearn for the days of Mayor Dayday and Chief Dave Scott. They keep their statistics up by picking up the most vulnerable people on our impoverished streets and criminalizing them.

There is no serious treatment for indigent addicts in Saskatoon. There are people with cushy union protected jobs working as drug counsellors for the government. If they had the gumption to treat addiction as a health issue rather than spewing out psychobabble and setting those referred to them on mind-bending paper-chases, some of them might actually be decent counsellors. If there were decent facilities to treat addicts, these counsellors might use their training and do their jobs.

As it is, they are part of yet another gang to contend with: government employees who want to cover their sorry asses and wait it out so they can collect healthy pensions. This group also includes the employees of social services (now called human resources) many of whom earn more in a day than is paid out for the monthly allowance for a single person.

Yes, the kids in jail are organizing into gangs. They are a pathetic lot — which is not to say they aren't dangerous. They would be even more dangerous if they were organized by a charismatic leader and given uniforms and weapons. We are most of us too young to remember the Hitler Youth but history tells us that was more or less how it came to be.

-- Sheila Steele, March 18, 2005