Former Occupier alleges police interference cost him his job
London Community News
By Paul Everest/London Community News/ Twitter: @PaulEverest1
A London man with ties to the Occupy London movement has filed a complaint to police after he learned police officers allegedly pressured his employer to fire him last month.
Rob Bazinet, 35, had barely worked three weeks as a security guard at Jack’s bar on Richmond Street when he was fired before a Saturday evening shift.
When he asked why he was being fired, Bazinet claimed the general manager, Adam Campbell, would not give him a reason.
“He said, ‘It doesn’t work with you working here’.”
Understandably worried about what the firing would mean for his family, Bazinet decided to confront Matt Morton, the bar’s security supervisor who hired him, about the reasons for his termination.
He said Morton alleged police were behind the decision to fire him.
When Bazinet expressed concern his girlfriend would jump to the conclusion he was fired for not performing his duties properly, Morton agreed to explain the reasons for the firing in her presence.
At that point, Bazinet approached London Community News with his allegations and a reporter posing as his girlfriend accompanied him to a meeting with Morton on May 3.
During that meeting, which Bazinet recorded without Morton’s knowledge, Morton reiterated the firing was due to alleged police pressure.
“Robert doesn’t have a very good relationship with the London police and we do,” Morton claimed in the recording. “They were not keen on having him working here.”
He added the police officers allegedly told management the good relationship between the bar and police could be jeopardized if he was kept on as an employee.
“I’m not supposed to be telling you all this,” Morton claimed. “It was just purely based on a request from the London police for us to re-evaluate whether we had made the right choice.”
“But they didn’t really give you a choice?” Bazinet asked.
“No,” Morton replied.
He claimed the bar’s management decided to fire Bazinet so as not to endanger the good relationship with police.
“My boss is worried about blowback.”
Refuting Morton’s claims, Campbell wrote in an email to London Community News that police pressure had nothing to do with the firing and Bazinet “was let go due to internal issues here at Jack’s, nothing more.”
“I'm not sure where you're getting your information, but the London Police had absolutely nothing to do with Rob's dismissal,” Campbell wrote. “I should know... I was the one who let him go. Obviously, any recording Rob has provided you is not of myself or of anyone who was involved in coming to the decision to end his employment here at Jacks.
“We do have an excellent working relationship with London Police. We respect them for the hard work and dedication they put into keeping our streets safe. Just as they appreciate the hard work my staff puts into creating a safe environment at our establishment.”
Campbell did not respond to an invitation to listen to the recording Bazinet made of his conversation with Jack’s security supervisor.
Nor did he respond to a request to set up a meeting between Morton and London Community News to discuss the allegations made in the recording.
London Community News made multiple attempts in person, by phone and through email and Facebook to reach Morton for comment about why his explanation to Bazinet differs from Campbell’s account, but he did not respond.
Bazinet said he believes the police officers pressured the bar to have him fired due to his interaction with several officers during Occupy London demonstrations in Victoria Park last year.
He considered himself a “liaison” to police during the demonstrations and said there were times when he was antagonistic with police members when he felt they were doing something inappropriate.
For example, if he saw an officer not displaying his or her nametag or badge number properly, Bazinet said he would point it out to the officer or take his or her picture.
Bazinet took the job at Jack’s to gain more shifts after his hours were cut back at Cobra Nightclub on Talbot Street, where he had also worked as a security guard.
He claimed a police officer also made inquiries about him when he worked at that club.
Cameron Hodgins, Cobra’s general manager, confirmed a police officer had come into the club earlier this year.
He alleges the officer asked if Bazinet was employed there and if he had a licence to work as a security guard for the bar.
He said, however, the officer did not ask him to fire Bazinet, who does hold a valid provincial licence to work as a security guard and was never arrested or charged during any of the Occupy events in the city.
Const. Dennis Rivest, a London Police Service spokesman, said he could not specifically comment on Bazinet’s complaint, but added if a member of the service has done something inappropriate, that act needs to be investigated.
He also said it is not common practice for London police to approach the employer of someone they have interacted with.
“It’s not the police’s position to go tell someone else that we dealt with you.”
Sgt. Brent Anderson, who is in charge of the police headquarters reception unit, is often one of the first officers to receive a complaint against police.
He said if a member did try to influence an employer to fire an employee, such an act would be a breach of confidentiality, adding police have “strict rules and guidelines about what can be released.”
He said investigators will be looking into Bazinet’s concerns.
“We take complaints seriously.”
Bazinet said his complaint is not with the entire police service, but any officers who infringed on his rights.
And in the end, he said he just wants to have an opportunity to work in the city without having to worry about outside interference.
“The police have no authority to go in there and tell them what to do,” Bazinet said. “I just want to be a dad and I want to work.”
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