Assault charge has student spitting mad

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By Melissa Godsoe

A man accused of spitting on a police officer is more concerned his name is permanently tarnished than he is with the criminal charges he faces.

Kashif Shaikh a fourth-year ITM student was charged with assaulting a police officer at an Oct. 26 anti-poverty rally.

Shaikh said he got into a disagreement with a police officer at the protest after he was asked to move and was allegedly pushed. Shaikh said he asked the officer for his badge number and in response was pushed again. Shaikh said it wasn’t until he told the officer he was “acting like a bitch” that he was pushed to the ground. As he was getting up, Shaikh said he spat in the general direction of the police officer when he alleges another police officer threw him to the ground.

Shaikh was one of six people arrested at the rally and one of two who were criminally charged.

He is due in court Jan. 17 to set a trial date.

While Shaikh is confident the charges against him will be dropped, he worries of the impact of having his name permanently attached to the incident.

According to Sgt. Robb Knapper of the Toronto police, a person’s name remains on police files, even if the criminal charges are eventually dropped.

“It’s something to finger me,” Shaikh said. “It’s a profile. I am on file as having been charged with assaulting a police officer. Even if those charges are dropped, how does that make me look? Very badly.”

Shaikh worries that his Muslim beliefs, his last name and his involvement in protests, coupled with a police file, will leave him pegged by police and the government as a trouble maker and as a result fears is actions will be closely monitored.

“I want to be involved in so many other causes globally, but this will probably inhibit my actions,” he said. “I don’t like feeling so curtailed and because of my last name I am – more than the average Canadian Joe.”

Shaikh is receiving free legal advice from RyeSAC’s lawyer Bill Reid.

“He is a student leader in the community,” said RyeSAC President Darren Cooney. “Because we’re here for the students, we wanted to help him with this.”

While RyeSAC offered financial assistance to students for legal fees in the past, Cooney couldn’t guarantee such assistance would be offered to Shaikh. He said each situation is assessed and handled individually.

“We shy away from that,” he said. “There are a lot of students in court for a lot of different reasons. We can’t help everyone.”

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