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Mister Rubber rubs police the wrong way

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Mister Rubber rubs police the wrong way

Steve Stewart, the reigning Mister Rubber Ottawa, says he understands police have a job to do but feels his rights were violated. IMAGE 1 OF 1
Steve Stewart is detained for wearing fetish gear
The reigning Mister Rubber Ottawa says his rights were violated when police recently detained him at Remic Rapids because he was wearing rubber gear.
 
Steve Stewart frequently dons his latex gear, including a full gas mask, and ventures around his Tunney’s Pasture neighbourhood. But on Nov 22, Stewart was followed by a plainclothes, off-duty officer who then called police.
 
“I took off my mask, then . . . [a uniformed officer who arrived at the scene] started going off on me, saying Halloween was over,” Stewart says.
 
He says the off-duty officer who made the call said he did so because Stewart was a danger to himself and was scaring women and children. Stewart says that at the time, he was in the Ottawa River up to his ankles, listening to music and enjoying the mild weather, and there were no women or children present.
 
The uniformed officer took down Stewart’s personal information, Stewart says, and told him that his outfit was “not normal and frightens people.”
 
Stewart says the officer told him police frequently deal with perverts and sexual assaults at Remic Rapids.
 
“I told him I understood that I looked out of the ordinary and they were just doing their job,” Stewart says, “but I was, in fact, keeping to myself and that I frequented the area dressed like this on a regular basis and got more positive attention than negative.”
 
Stewart says the officer replied by saying, “No you don’t” and used words like “normal and abnormal.”
 
“I told him he was being condescending and asked to speak with the other officer who had shown up,” Stewart says.

By this time, he says, four police cars and five officers had arrived at the scene.
 
Stewart says the second officer he spoke with was understanding and listened to his explanation that he is part of the local fetish community and is the reigning Mister Rubber. The second officer told Stewart he was not engaging in illegal activity but suggested Stewart not wear his gas mask in public.
 
“I feel like my rights were not looked after,” Stewart says. “There are two sides to every story, and they made a point to get theirs across: that they were looking out for the safety of the people. However, it wasn’t just anyone that called in; it was the off-duty officer that called in and then the four of them were ganging up on me. What about my rights to go out wearing what I want?”
 
In the future, he says, he will refrain from wearing a full mask in public and will stay close to his home.
 
“I’m not going to push it. But I don’t want to feel defeated or be finger-wagged, saying I’m some pervert or criminal when they have, in fact, told me I’m not doing anything illegal,” he says. “If I’m told it’s illegal and I’m not allowed to, then I won’t.”
 
Michael Tattersall, Leather Pride's producer, says Stewart’s case is an example of authorities fearing the unusual.
 
“In our culture, people are made to feel bad about expressing their true selves,” Tattersall says. “In general . . . [police officers] do not like things that are not black and white; shades of grey scare them.”
 
Meanwhile, Denis Schryburt, co-chair of the Ottawa police GLBT liaison committee, says that although he had not heard of the incident, he plans to connect with Stewart, as well as Inspector Joan McKenna, the committee co-chair, to discuss the incident.
 
Constable Henri Lanctot, with the media relations section of the Ottawa police service, says that although wearing a gas mask is not a criminal offence, officers must interview a masked person.
 
“It is peculiar, for sure,” Lanctot says. “Unless the person is involved in some type of training exercise, we have to . . . find out why they are wearing a gas mask. They may have a medical condition and there may be something in the air. We have to look at all the information and interview that person.”
 
Lanctot says police cannot locate any record of a call to Remic Rapids on the date of Stewart’s detainment.
 
Stewart says he feels no animosity toward police for doing their jobs; however, he hopes no one else in the fetish community will have to endure a similar situation.
 
“I’m not trying to make a big stink and get anyone in trouble,” he says. “I don’t think anyone should have to feel ashamed. I just want to see fairness and respect for my freedom to express myself.”
 
In October, Stewart was stopped by police for wearing rubber gear and says he sent Constable Walter Duhme, of the diversity and race relations section of the Ottawa police, an email detailing both incidents but did not receive a response.  
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Comments

A disturbing percentage of Police...
Lex's comments painting the majority of police does have some validity. Some. Not in all cases, but in a disturbing percentage.... There is a certain out-dated mentality that gravitates toward such employment options for bullying people. The allure of power, the allure of force... it comes out in schools as Football, it comes out in schools as Hockey. At least now in Hockey the culture is shifting, but in Football we see a preponderance of the attitude of "might makes right" and forcing people to do things through intimidation and bullying. When I see some of the officers I know, who played Football in University, "on the job," I go the other way. Quickly. I didn't value their judgement off the field then, and I don't value their abilities to judge situations now. Being a member of a Team is all well and good, but the team should not be solely relying upon the skills of blind obedience to hegemony. Fire Departments, Police Departments, Military used to be the only places their behaviours made them successful in--successful meaning they did not have to change their behaviours. In the rest of civil society, bullies only rise up when the good people walk away out of frustration and disgust, to positions of better employment where their imaginations and unorthodox thought patterns are more valued. This is why we see so many incidents of anti-social behaviour in the closed Brotherhood employment options. Only when the culture changes (a higher value for imagination and unorthodox methodologies to solve problems) will we see a disappearance of police brutality complaints. People perceived as "weak" get bullied. People on the fringes are marginalised, and placed in non-consensual power-exchange relationships. Marginalising only reinforces the bully's impression of self-potency. Only the bully consents to this. "I am strong and you are weak and I have the Team to back me up but you--you have only your freakishness, and th
Go Steve!
I'm glad you stood up for your rights and didn't just walk away with your tail between your legs.

Keep doin what you do Steve!
Brave Steve!
Steve, you are such a sweetheart and such a special member of our local GLBTTQ community. I hope you don't for a SECOND stop being your wonderful self. I appreciate the police checking up on people wearing hazmat-type gear, but the exchange went far beyond that. Any officer who talked to you for thirty seconds should have quickly seen what we all know: you're harmless, kind, friendly, polite, and not a threat. Steve, you are a unique and valuable addition to our community and I look forward to seeing you happily wading in the waters again soon.
LOL!
It would be one thing if he was wearing a gas mask, and a suspicious bag, and was wearing army gear. Yeah that would be dangerously suspicious.

But no, he was wearing all rubber. Anyone with half a brain would realize the dudes just dressed in some rubber and having a good time. Either A. Police officers need to learn about the world they live in or B. Stop being bullies to those that dont fir their black/white perceptions of society.

And really now, four police cars and five officers for a (very friendly) dude wearing rubber? Knowing rubber outfits its not like he had room to have a gun on him.. what a waste of resources. 5 officers are not needed to talk to someone. Two at most, the other 3 could have been doing something productive.

I know some good officers exist. But the majority imo are the jackasses that pushed around kids in high-school, graduated and realized they did not have anyone to push around anymore so they become security guards or police officers.

I myself have a very unique style, you may have seen Ottawa wearing very wide cuffed pants known as Phat Pants (an old rave style). I am questioned by cops all the time for being expressive with my clothing. Bullies and taunted by cops just cause I wear out there clothes has become the norm and that shouldn't be.

Police are here to serve and protect, not bully and harass.
What about muslims???
Women wearing burkas make me VERY uncomfortable. I demand the police detain and question them as well.
shoulda
cop:"hey buddy, what's with the odd get-up?"
Steve: "it makes me feel good"
cop: "Ok, think about leaving the mask at home next time, have a good night."
Freedom of Expression
The Ottawa Police Services has come far with respect to relations in the GLBTQ community. In fact, this city has set an example for other cities such as Toronto.

The Ottawa Knights, a leather, fetish and kink group who have been a a part of this community for 37 years, has a representative who atttends the Monthy Police Liaison Committee meetings to represent the leather kink and fetish lifestyle.

This type of action can only result in damaging that reputation. Our freedom of expression has been denied because we are not a part of the norm. Please explain norm in the GLBTQ community?

I am positive this will be discussed at the next liasion meeting.
WTF?
I'd love to see the section of the criminal code that states "officers must interview a masked person".

I think the Ottawa Police may need to be reminded that they serve the public - including those of us whom they deem abnormal.
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