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Pivot Legal Society - Equality Lifts Everyone

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Harbour Centre and Fusion Security face more lawsuits

This morning we held another press conference at Pivot to share the stories of two more low income people who allege that they have experienced brutality at the hands of private security guards contracted to patrol the Harbour Centre Mall, and it’s beginning to feel like the mall owners and Fusion Security just don’t get the message.

Last week started off with a call from someone who works at Harbour Centre Mall reporting that she had once again witnessed someone who appeared to be homeless being first harassed and then arrested by guards at the Mall. By the end of the week the man she saw being harassed by the guards was in our office, telling me that the reason he was approached by guards was because he wanted to stand underneath the awning outside the mall to shelter himself from the rain for a bit.  When he was approached by the guards he asked that they show him their license and identify themselves. In response he received a tackle to the ground, handcuffs, and a 4-hour interrogation in the Fusion Security office while they waited for police officers to arrive.

Sadly this is just the latest in a growing mountain of complaints against the guards, and they all ring an eerily familiar tone. An individual who appears to be homeless or low income is approached by mall security and told to leave.. When the individual questions that demand or gets upset he is arrested for “assault by trespass”.

 At today’s press conference, one of the men Justin Peturson, told his story and we announced that both he and another man, Michael Freimark, have joined our three earlier complainants in filing suits against the mall. I hope their stories add to the growing call for scrutiny of the private security industry, which continues to increase its presence on streets, in malls and in public buildings each year.

It often takes time to break down the barriers that conceal what is really going on when these private security guards get into repeated altercations with marginalized people, but I am confident in the end we’ll be able to show that the mall and its guards don’t have a legal or a moral leg to stand on. As we start to get the replies from Harbour Centre and Fusion Security, the story just seems to get more unbelievable. In reply to one of our earlier cases against the mall we were told our client actually injured himself.

So far we have 6 complainants, all supposedly arrested for “assault by trespass”, but none of them charged by police and all of them showing injury from their encounter. I’d like to believe that Harbour Centre realizes they have a problem with their security company, but after hearing yet another story this week it’s starting to feel like they just don’t get it. Hopefully after today’s press conference they’ll see the pattern we’ve been staring at for months and take responsibility for managing the actions of the guards they have contracted to patrol their building on their behalf.

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