Friday, April 18, 2008
The Killing of Paul Croutch
His name was Paul Croutch. He was 59 years old. Once he was a newspaper editor in B.C. But mental illness slowly stripped him of everything...his money...his health...his dignity. Until he became just one of the thousands of homeless people surviving on the mean streets of Toronto.
On the night of August 31, 2005, he was sleeping on a bench in a downtown park. It was raining, so he was wrapped from head to toe in green garbage bags to try to keep warm and dry.
When three soldiers came out of a nearby armoury and savagely beat him to death.
Three Canadian soldiers kicked Paul Croutch, a sleeping homeless man, "like a football," then assaulted a woman who tried to intervene, warning her that "bums" aren't welcome in Toronto's Moss Park
Deganis thrust his military dog tags into her face, "saying that they gave them the right to do whatever they wanted to her and all derelict homeless bums...."
"`Tell all your friends the park is ours. We own it.'
Croutch was taken to hospital unconscious and died later. The attack broke several of his ribs, tore his spleen and caused a fatal injury to his brain
And one more little ugly detail. When the homeless woman tried to stop the beating. one of the soldiers told her she was a "dyke....a useless waste of skin" ..... so she "didn't count."
I hate bullies of any kind so much this story makes me sick to my stomach. How could healthy young men beat a helpless sick old man to death just because he was poor and homeless?
And the fact that they were soldiers makes it even worse. What kind of human trash are our Canadian forces recruiting?
And how dare those fascist goons think that a public park belonged to them? When if anyone has a right to claim ownership of that miserable piece of real estate, it's the poor desperate Canadians who call it home.
And where did they get off judging a human being for the "crime" of sleeping on a park bench? When there's not enough cheap housing, or proper shelters for the homeless to sleep in. And homelessness can happen to anyone.
“What that means is that 64% of the people who stayed here were men who were experiencing short-term homelessness,” says Dion. “The housing and job markets are so fragile that most people experiencing homelessness in Toronto today are those who simply cannot find the means to pay the rent,”
If there was any justice the armoury would be closed, and turned into a community centre to treat and shelter people like Paul Croutch. So they wouldn't have to suffer like he did.
But then if there was any justice those cowardly criminals wouldn't have been able to cop a plea. As they did today.
When all the evidence showed that the assault was clearly planned.
Immediately before the attacks, a senior officer testified, Deganis was overheard saying he hated bums and homeless people and wanted to take them on.
What a travesty of justice.
Poor Paul Croutch. Everyone who knew him said he was a kind and funny man.
But he couldn't shake his illness...or the voices in his head...that told him bad people were coming to get him.
How sad and ironic that when he least expected it, as he lay there helpless on a park bench in the rain covered with green garbage bags, the bad people really did come for him. And he never knew what hit him or why.
One moment he was sleeping...maybe dreaming of happier times...the next moment he was screaming in pain....the next moment he was dead.
In a way of course, we're all responsible for his death and the deaths of so many others...for not demanding that our governments do more to help the poorest and most vulnerable Canadians.
As for those cowards who ended that poor old man's life so savagely, I hope they get the sentences they deserve. Because this wasn't just murder....it was a hate crime against the homeless.
And it would send out a message that all human life is precious. Whether you're rich or poor. Sleep in a mansion or on a park bench.
More Canadians need to hear that message. If the bad men finally came for Paul Croutch.
Let's hope something good will come of it ...
P.S. Are we really sending soldiers like that to Afghanistan? How deep is the rot?
If they are as sick as that before they go....what awful crimes might they commit there?
And what will they be like when they come back?
Our Canadian forces. Keeping Canada safer. And bums out of our parks.
One body at a time...
P.P.S. Ok I take back those last two lines. As Sébastien points..... out it's not fair to blame everyone for what happened. So I'm sorry.
Although it does make you wonder about recruiting standards. And maybe the soldiers in the armoury could reach out to the poor people who live all round them. Tell them they're sorry about what happened.
And that it will NEVER happen again.
When you're poor and homeless those kind of small gestures can really mean a lot...