Geller launches complaint against York police chief and officer
August 6, 2013 | Joanne Hill - Correspondent
NEW YORK-TORONTO - York Regional Police (YRP) Chief Eric Jolliffe and Inspector Ricky Veerappan are under investigation by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) following a complaint by Pamela Geller.
Geller is a well-known American blogger and activist whose views are considered controversial by some people.
She was scheduled to speak at the Chabad@Flamingo Synagogue last May but Rabbi Mendel Kaplan rescinded permission for the use of his shul almost at the last minute.
Rabbi Kaplan also serves as a volunteer police chaplain with the YRP. Veerappan, who heads the YRP’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Bureau, told the Jewish Tribune in May that, if the rabbi had not cancelled Geller’s appearance at his shul, “we would certainly revisit his relationship with York Region Police.” The Toronto Zionist Centre stepped in to provide the venue and Geller spoke before an overflow, standing-room-only audience; however, she wasn’t willing to let the matter of the cancellation drop, so after she returned to the US she filed an official complaint with the OIPRD.
“This behaviour is intolerable from a police officer, whose job is to protect the citizenry, not to censor points of view he dislikes,” said Geller. “This case is important for the freedom of speech.”
Geller said her complaint “addresses the effects of the joint decision of Chief Jolliffe and Inspector Veerappan to coerce a rabbi to cancel my event scheduled to be held in his synagogue because they do not share my opinions on freedom of speech and equality for women. This breach of police policy and conduct ultimately undermines public confidence in the fairness and impartiality of the York Regional Police.”
According to Geller, the OIPRD informed her that they had referred her complaint against Jolliffe to the York Police Services Board.
Grant Wilkinson, senior investigator, OIPRD, and Mafalda Avellino, executive director, York Police Services Board, both said they could neither confirm nor deny the existence of any complaints or investigations.
However, a spokesperson for the YRP did provide confirmation of the investigation following the Jewish Tribune’s request for comment from Jolliffe.
“This issue has become part of an investigative process under the OIPRD and the chief is not in a position to comment,” said YRP Constable Laura Nicolle.
Veerappan did not respond to the Jewish Tribune’s request for an interview.
Geller said she is scheduled to give testimony to the OIPRD by Skype on Aug. 7.