(Contains some swearing)
In my time homeless I’ve had a lot of dealings with security guards. Some of them are bastards. Some of them are fucking bastards. Some of them are sadistic fucking bastards. Some of them are decent, and some are simply passing through the job, not much invested in it as part of their identity.
Security guards, I’ve noticed, act within the boundaries of the culture of their particular company. Those cultures can vary quite widely. Consider the City of Toronto uniformed security guards. They’re the best and friendliest guards that I’ve ever encountered. In my experience, they go out of their way to accommodate people, applying their own discretion to situations rather than simply consulting a rule book.
Some corporate cultures take a mostly hands-off attitude, keeping out of the way unless action is necessary.
Other cultures, though, make the decision to actively enforce policy by aggressively pursuing outcomes. You can imagine which will be staffed by real people and which will be staffed by cowboys.
I’ve lived and slept a long time on Toronto’s Hospital Row. I’ve seen and experienced some of the ways different hospitals engage as publicly funded institutions.
At one hospital in Toronto, for instance, I have witnessed the security guards who work there take homeless and elderly men violently off the premises. At a hospital! I mention this not because it is an exception, but because it is the rule at that hospital. In at least three instances (over the course of one Winter) I witnessed this sort of behaviour, including a lot of laughter as the group of guards watched an elderly or otherwise infirm homeless person stagger and limp away from the hospital after being ejected.
My own experiences at that hospital have been centred around having an urgent need to use the toilet at early hours. Even in that circumstance I was aggressively approached and told to leave. The rationale on one occassion, according to the three security guards who pounded on the bathroom door, was that I wasn’t registered at Emergency. That doesn’t merit a response, to my thinking.
I’ve got a lot more on this subject and I look forward to casting some light on it.
I just wanted to bring some attention to how near to normal the actions of the security guards who killed that man in Brazil Thursday night are.
And of course open the question of exactly how much authority we are comfortable handing over to people whose only legitimacy stems from a lease agreement and business license.