Can't stop, won't stop.
My Alberta Views debut, "Policing the Police," is about the province's police watchdog Alberta Serious Incident Response Team. ASIRT is considered the gold standard, not just in Canada but North America. But while it's been heralded by police forces across the continent, closer to home the organization has been accused of protecting its own above all others.
Policing the Police: How well does Alberta's police watchdog protect citizens and officers?
Everything we know about what really happened to Sammy Sobieh exists in a few minutes of silent video from two stationary security cameras, in which the only thing in focus is the date and time: 08-21-2011 18:56:00.
The first angle, in the back alley of the Edmontonian’s meat shop, shows Sobieh confronting a younger man on a phone. The business owner has a metal tool in his hand but doesn’t raise it. The young man retreats but doesn’t leave.
At 19:00:42 a camera inside the butcher shop’s storage room captures three male officers entering the back door, weapons drawn. Sobieh arrives from the opposite entrance, and upon seeing the police, throws an object to the ground. He stops, arms akimbo. An officer shows him one raised palm. The 60-year-old raises both hands, then drops them, turns around and takes two steps. An officer kicks the back of Sobieh’s leg and grabs his shoulders. A second officer kicks the butcher’s knee and Sobieh falls on his hands. The same officer knees Sobieh’s head, causing him to collapse on his right arm. A third officer helps restrain him and the second kicks Sobieh’s side. The third hammers four blows to the butcher’s back, the second kicks him, presses a knee on his back and then pulls Sobieh’s right arm from beneath him. Sobieh is cuffed, the officers stand—and so begins Edmonton’s most contested allegation of police brutality in recent memory. [continue reading]
Every once in a while I get an assignment that I was born to write. This is one of them.
It's the bizarre tale of a burger chain that is less a franchise than a meme — Burger Baron — and the men who went from rags to riches selling mushroom burgers, including my father. Read the Swerve cover story.
As a bonus, here are some old clippings from when our family opened High Prairie's very first Baron Baron.
(Above) My father, Ahmed Mouallem, cutting the ribbon with Larry Shaben, Alberta's future Minister of Economic Development and Trade. (Below) The South Peace News reports on the grand opening and runs a supplied photo of our family (I'm the one in the onesie).