Ottawa police are accused of intimidating a student who knocked the bird over on them

It’s the last type of youth work the Ottawa Police Department wants.

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On May 9, an elementary school boy apparently threw the bird out the window of his school bus in a squad car at Ottawa police officers.

The officers stopped the school bus and one of the officers got on the bus and scorned the boy for giving him the middle finger. This emerges from a public complaint filed by Anne Levesque, a human rights lawyer and law professor at the University of Ottawa, a lecturer who was standing with her daughters at the bus stop on the corner of Daly Avenue and Charlotte Street.

“One of[the officers]came in and started arguing with the kid in the back because the kid tipped him off,” Levesque said.

“He then threatened to take him away in the police car,” Levesque’s complaint reads

The lawyer described the incidents as police intimidation, abuse of power and a violation of the charter.

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When a neighbor asked police why they stopped the bus, one of the officers “falsely” claimed it was because the children were standing on the bus, the complaint says.

Police then followed the bus to the school and reported the boy to the principal, the Levesque complaint said.

The boy’s family has also filed a complaint against the officer who boarded the bus. This complaint was reviewed by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director and referred to the Ottawa Police Service’s Professional Standards Division for investigation.

The Police Examination Board asked the professional unit to try to complete its investigation within 120 days.

“My daughters were very concerned about all of this (and I imagine the child in question was too)… Besides, there was no reason to stop the bus or threaten the child. Just because someone is a child doesn’t mean they don’t have a constitutional right,” Levesque said.

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The lawyer asks the police to apologize to the child in front of the whole school.

Swapping the bird is not a crime in Canada.

A Quebec judge ruled earlier this year that giving someone the middle finger is indeed a charter-protected right.

Judge Dennis Galiatsatos ruled, “Moving the proverbial bird is a God-given charter right afforded to every purebred Canadian.” It may not be polite, it may not be polite, it may not be a gentleman. Nevertheless, it does not trigger any criminal liability.”

Michael Spratt, an Ottawa criminal justice specialist, says police need to educate themselves about the law rather than complain about hurt feelings.

“Giving the police the middle finger they often deserve is a right protected by the Charter. Freedom of expression doesn’t stop at a police officer’s hurt feelings. And the fact that the police are so thin-skinned is another step in the troubling trend toward police entitlement and authoritarianism,” Spratt said.

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