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Jewish aboriginal inmate, 12 years in solitary, claims abuse of rights at BC prison

TORONTO A Jewish aboriginal prisoner who was assaulted by other inmates alleges the authorities set up the white supremacist attack in retaliation for his complaints about treatment he says has violated his constitutional rights. Timothy Nome, 42, who is serving an indeterminate sentence for punching a guard years ago, also claims correctional officers at the prison in British Columbia deliberately poured pig lard onto his kosher food and that authorities are denying him access to the courts. The contested allegations are the latest in a protracted battle between the maximum-security inmate, who has spent a total of more than 12 years in segregation during stints at numerous institutions around the country, and prison authorities, who appear to be at a loss about how to deal with him.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association wrote Bobbi Sandhu, the warden of Kent Institution in Agassiz, to express its concerns about Nome s most recent prolonged stretch in segregation 130 days and his abhorrent treatment by prison staff. In the December letter, obtained by The Canadian Press, the association calls on Sandhu to investigate Nome s claim that he has been unable to take several grievances to court because authorities wouldn t allow him paper, a printer, or access to the prison law library.

These are matters of utmost importance, the CCLA letter states. The association said it had not had any response to its letter. Despite repeated requests from The Canadian Press, Correctional Service Canada did not respond to Nome s assertion that it was violating his constitutional rights by denying him access to the courts.

Nome was on a rare stint out of segregation at Kent Institution hoping to be reclassified as medium security when he was attacked last month. He blames white supremacists sporting visible Nazi tattoos and says authorities were aware the newcomers to his range would be incompatibles.

They knew this and they flooded the range with these guys, Nome said in a recent interview. It s foreseeable that me, being an Orthodox Jew, is going to get into trouble with that. Prison authorities deny the allegations. Instead, they blame Nome for failing to report his concerns something he says he did in writing months ago. Jean-Paul Lorieau, a regional spokesman for Correctional Service Canada, said Nome had no listed incompatibles on the unit at the time of the assault, which left him with a scald wound on his neck.

Inmates are free to identify any incompatibles they may feel are present at any time during their sentence, Lorieau said. Staff were unaware of any safety concerns in regards to Mr. Nome prior to the assault.

Nome maintained that one manager had taken photographs of a large swastika on the wall of a cell he was moved into, but authorities denied knowing the inmate was the target of racist or anti-Semitic behaviour in his living unit. Lorieau said Nome was treated for his injuries and, for his own safety, put back in solitary confinement. Vibert Jack, an advocate with Prisoners Legal Services based in Burnaby, B.C., said Nome has spent an unreasonable time in isolation.

It s obviously a rare case but it is something that we see: The institutions don t really have any solution for (such inmates) other than segregation, and Mr. Nome is an extreme example of that.

Jack, who visited Nome at Kent after the assault, said it appears guards knowingly put him in harm s way. Jack said another Jewish inmate reported correctional officers blocked a request to be housed with Nome, citing the threat from white supremacists in the range. Nome maintains that guards have been retaliating against him for raising legitimate concerns such as freezing conditions on the range and have covered up evidence that supports his complaints something correctional authorities deny. Born to an Orthodox Jewish mother and Cree father, Nome is originally from Williams Lake, B.C. He has, however, been mostly in custody since he was 13 years old.

Authorities took him from his young alcohol and drug-abusing mother when he was just four. Placed in various foster homes, where he says he was emotionally and sexually abused, he and his three younger siblings were finally adopted as a family by the Nomes described in court documents as dysfunctional. His adoptive mother beat him badly, he said. Court records show the family broke apart when Nome was 11, and he ended up in various group homes. He became a drug abuser, was often suicidal, and got into constant trouble. As an adult, Nome has been outside prison for a mere nine months, during which time he threatened and sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl by groping her, according to the conviction. In all, he has racked up an impressive number of convictions ranging from threatening death and sexual assault, to assault with a weapon, breaching probation and vandalism. However, the vast majority more than 100 of them stem from incidents that occurred behind bars.

I m not a perfect guy and I ve retaliated on a few occasions, Nome says. But it s a very very large part in retaliation or reaction to what the guards are doing to me.

His current incarceration stems from an assault in August 2005: He punched a guard who was trying to force him into different clothes. It cost the inmate two teeth and a black eye. At sentencing in 2009, forensic reports branded Nome a psychopath with anti-social personality disorder. One assessment, however, said Nome s risk of reoffending was highest in a maximum security environment, and that any risk he posed could be managed with treatment in the community. Saskatchewan Court of Queen s Bench Justice Ellen Gunn observed the irony of Nome s situation.

When Mr. Nome is triggered by feeling disrespected or unfairly treated, he engages in a power struggle, becoming inflexible, and this results in self-sabotaging threats and intimidation, Gunn wrote in her sentencing decision. The consequence for Mr. Nome is he has further loss of control than what he had started with.

Nevertheless, Gunn decided there was no reasonable possibility of controlling him outside prison, declared him a dangerous offender, and gave him the indeterminate sentence he is now serving. Nome s supporters, however, say his behaviour is much improved in recent years and that he poses no threat to others when treated properly. Steve Fineberg, a lawyer in Montreal who jokingly describes Nome as more of an industry than a client given the many people who have taken up his cause, said the inmate has been at war with prison authorities from the get-go, but had been trying to do his time peacefully when the latest series of incidents erupted.

Nome is resourceful, persistent and unwilling to back down, Fineberg said, and some guards hate him for it and have taken that out on him.

He insists on his rights and he does it energetically and joyfully and it drives Correctional Service crazy, Fineberg said. Segregation is one of their responses. He s really driving them mad. He won t stand down.

This past week, Nome said he had been transferred to a nearby prison. He said he had been told he would soon be moved to Stony Mountain Institution in Manitoba, where he said he fears he ll end up yet again in solitary.

Jewish aboriginal inmate cites guards for attack

TORONTO A Jewish aboriginal prisoner who was assaulted by other inmates alleges the authorities set up the white supremacist attack in retaliation for his complaints about treatment he says has violated his constitutional rights. Timothy Nome, 42, who is serving an indeterminate sentence for punching a guard years ago, also claims correctional officers at the prison in British Columbia deliberately poured pig lard onto his kosher food and that authorities are denying him access to the courts. The contested allegations are the latest in a protracted battle between the maximum-security inmate, who has spent a total of more than 12 years in segregation during stints at numerous institutions around the country, and prison authorities, who appear to be at a loss about how to deal with him.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association wrote Bobbi Sandhu, the warden of Kent Institution in Agassiz, B.C., to express its concerns about Nome’s most recent prolonged stretch in segregation 130 days and his “abhorrent treatment” by prison staff. In the December letter, obtained by The Canadian Press, the association calls on Sandhu to investigate Nome’s claim that he has been unable to take several grievances to court because authorities wouldn’t allow him paper, a printer, or access to the prison law library.

“These are matters of utmost importance,” the CCLA letter states. The association said it had not had any response to its letter. Despite repeated requests from The Canadian Press, Correctional Service Canada did not respond to Nome’s assertion that it was violating his constitutional rights by denying him access to the courts.

Nome was on a rare stint out of segregation at Kent Institution hoping to be reclassified as medium security when he was attacked last month. He blames white supremacists sporting visible Nazi tattoos and says authorities were aware the newcomers to his range would be “incompatibles.”

“They knew this and they flooded the range with these guys,” Nome said in a recent interview. “It’s foreseeable that me, being an Orthodox Jew, is going to get into trouble with that.”

Prison authorities deny the allegations. Instead, they blame Nome for failing to report his concerns something he says he did in writing months ago. Jean-Paul Lorieau, a regional spokesman for Correctional Service Canada, said Nome had no listed incompatibles on the unit at the time of the assault, which left him with a scald wound on his neck.

“Inmates are free to identify any incompatibles they may feel are present at any time during their sentence,” Lorieau said. “Staff were unaware of any safety concerns in regards to Mr. Nome prior to the assault.”

Nome maintained that one manager had taken photographs of a large swastika on the wall of a cell he was moved into, but authorities denied knowing the inmate was the target of racist or anti-Semitic behaviour in his living unit. Lorieau said Nome was treated for his injuries and, for his own safety, put back in solitary confinement.

Vibert Jack, an advocate with Prisoners Legal Services based in Burnaby, B.C., said Nome has spent an “unreasonable time” in isolation.

“It’s obviously a rare case but it is something that we see: The institutions don’t really have any solution for (such inmates) other than segregation, and Mr. Nome is an extreme example of that.”

Jack, who visited Nome at Kent after the assault, said it appears guards knowingly put him in harm’s way. Jack said another Jewish inmate reported correctional officers blocked a request to be housed with Nome, citing the threat from white supremacists in the range. Nome maintains that guards have been retaliating against him for raising legitimate concerns such as freezing conditions on the range and have covered up evidence that supports his complaints something correctional authorities deny. Born to an Orthodox Jewish mother and Cree father, Nome is originally from Williams Lake, B.C. He has, however, been mostly in custody since he was 13 years old.

Authorities took him from his young alcohol and drug-abusing mother when he was just four. Placed in various foster homes, where he says he was emotionally and sexually abused, he and his three younger siblings were finally adopted as a family by the Nomes described in court documents as dysfunctional. His adoptive mother beat him badly, he said. Court records show the family broke apart when Nome was 11, and he ended up in various group homes. He became a drug abuser, was often suicidal, and got into constant trouble. As an adult, Nome has been outside prison for a mere nine months, during which time he threatened and sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl by groping her, according to the conviction. In all, he has racked up an impressive number of convictions ranging from threatening death and sexual assault, to assault with a weapon, breaching probation and vandalism. However, the vast majority more than 100 of them stem from incidents that occurred behind bars.

“I’m not a perfect guy and I’ve retaliated on a few occasions,” Nome says. “But it’s a very very large part in retaliation or reaction to what the guards are doing to me.”

His current incarceration stems from an assault in August 2005: He punched a guard who was trying to force him into different clothes. It cost the inmate two teeth and a black eye. At sentencing in 2009, forensic reports branded Nome a psychopath with anti-social personality disorder. One assessment, however, said Nome’s risk of reoffending was highest in a maximum security environment, and that any risk he posed could be managed with treatment in the community. Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Ellen Gunn observed the irony of Nome’s situation.

“When Mr. Nome is triggered by feeling disrespected or unfairly treated, he engages in a power struggle, becoming inflexible, and this results in self-sabotaging threats and intimidation,” Gunn wrote in her sentencing decision. “The consequence for Mr. Nome is he has further loss of control than what he had started with.”

Nevertheless, Gunn decided there was no reasonable possibility of controlling him outside prison, declared him a dangerous offender, and gave him the indeterminate sentence he is now serving. Nome’s supporters, however, say his behaviour is much improved in recent years and that he poses no threat to others when treated properly. Steve Fineberg, a lawyer in Montreal who jokingly describes Nome as “more of an industry than a client” given the many people who have taken up his cause, said the inmate has been at war with prison authorities from the get-go, but had been trying to do his time peacefully when the latest series of incidents erupted.

Nome is resourceful, persistent and unwilling to back down, Fineberg said, and some guards hate him for it and have taken that out on him.

“He insists on his rights and he does it energetically and joyfully and it drives Correctional Service crazy,” Fineberg said. “Segregation is one of their responses. He’s really driving them mad. He won’t stand down.”

This past week, Nome said he had been transferred to a nearby prison. He said he had been told he would soon be moved to Stony Mountain Institution in Manitoba, where he said he fears he’ll end up yet again in solitary.

By Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press

Newly-opened Trump tower a beacon of controversy in Vancouver

VANCOUVER — When developer Joo Kim Tiah announced in 2013 that his spiralling skyscraper project in Vancouver would bear Donald Trump’s name, the main controversy was whether the glitzy luxury hotel was at odds with the city’s reputation as a home of casual yoga-pants-wearing types. A lot has changed since then. Vancouver’s Trump International Hotel and Tower has transformed into a potent symbol of Trump’s candidacy and presidency, observers say. Protests over U.S. policy inevitably end up on its doorstep and provincial and city politicians have said the Trump name doesn’t represent Vancouver.

“It’s more than a beacon of racism,” said Coun. Kerry Jang, who has urged the developer to drop the Trump brand. “It’s a beacon of intolerance. It’s a beacon of sexism and bullying. That’s just not Vancouver.”

The $360-million hotel and condominium development, with a unique twisting design by late architect Arthur Erickson, had a soft launch last month. Protests are being planned on social media to greet Trump’s sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, at the grand opening Feb. 28. Tiah, the president and CEO of Holborn Group, is the son of one of Malaysia’s wealthiest businessmen. The Trump Organization does not own the tower, but licensed its name for branding and marketing, while the Trump Hotel Collection operates the 147-room hotel. The building’s more than 200 condominium units sold out last year, the National Post reported. Tiah told the newspaper in November that the media had a “vendetta” against the U.S. president and rejected suggestions that the Trump brand had taken a hit.

But in Vancouver, known for its multiculturalism and progressive politics, Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric has given the tower an uneasy place in the city’s skyline. After Trump’s call in 2015 for a “complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the U.S., a petition urging Holborn Group to dump the Trump name attracted 56,000 signatures. Mayor Gregor Robertson joined the chorus of residents in a passionate letter to Tiah in December 2015.

“Trump’s name and brand have no more place on Vancouver’s skyline than his ignorant ideas have in the modern world,” Robertson wrote. Also in December 2015, British Columbia Premier Christy Clark said it was up to the city and the developer to decide whether to drop the brand, but she agreed the name doesn’t represent Vancouver, adding she didn’t think Trump would be “good business” in Canada for much longer.

Tiah was unavailable for an interview, but told the Post that removing the Trump name would have led to “enormous financial and legal ramifications.” Talk Shop Media, which handles media relations for the opening of the tower, did not return requests for comment. Lindsay Meredith, a marketing professor at Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business, said the hotel is aimed at high-income business people, who tend to be well-educated and more likely to be offended by Trump’s comments and policies.

“It doesn’t take much to kick that kind of clientele into the arms of yet another high-end luxury establishment,” he said. Hundreds marched past the tower in a raucous protest after Trump’s election in November as well as during last month’s Women’s March. Someone briefly changed its name to Dump Tower on Google Maps.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Canada was also recently involved in a flap when it rented space inside the tower for an event, prompting questions about whether the business group was trying to curry favour with the new U.S. president. Chamber member Laura Ballance said the group is non-partisan and had to scramble to find space after its planned location fell through just two days before the event. It usually tries to hold meetings inside American-owned or branded spaces, she said.

“The Trump tower fell within that list and it was the first one to respond,” she said. But the incident that may have attracted the most international attention was in April 2016 when Diego Reyna, a Mexico-born Canadian citizen, flew the Mexican flag from the tower.

Reyna, a structural steel framer, said he didn’t work on the building but he knew more than a dozen Mexicans and other immigrants who did. He wore his construction gear and casually passed through security. A guard even apologized for not opening a gate quickly enough, Reyna recalled.

“That’s the beauty of Canada,” he said with an appreciative laugh.

The 31-year-old grew up in Chiapas, the southernmost Mexican state, where his father worked in a mine 16 hours a day and his mother worked three jobs just to afford one meal a day for her children. When he heard Trump criticize Mexican immigrants, he knew he had to speak out.

“He said when Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. That’s where I disagree,” Reyna said. “The most brilliant minds of my generation, the most creative and intelligent brains, have all been Mexican and they’ve all been struggling with poverty.

“The only message is be kind when you judge those who were not born with the privilege that you have,” he added. “You want to build a wall? Great. You don’t want immigrants in your country? Perfect. But don’t tell the world that we are criminals and rapists.”

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