The Roxboro lemonade stand takedown
- By Dan Laxer The Suburban
It all came down to “she-said-they-said,” they being the police, and she being Ayana Massa, the mother of two boys who operate a lemonade stand in Roxboro to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis research. Massa has MS, and her boys were raising money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada to help their mom. But things turned sour.
“Lemonadegate”, as some have called it, began when police had responded to complaints from a neighbour who may simply have been disgruntled, or who may have had a legitimate complaint stemming from the kids’ use of a megaphone. Either way, police are required to respond to complaints, and at the very least to investigate, which they did.
The complainant had allegedly publicly berated the two kids, aged 8 and 11, swearing at them, harassing them and their mom, following through on his threat to call police. For their part, the police said their issue was with the megaphone, and they simply wanted the kids to stop using it.
Massa alleged that the police response was aggressive and heavy-handed, given the situation. Police countered that it was Massa who was aggressive, and they would not apologize for their handling of the matter. According to Massa, she was threatened with arrest. However, police said that is not what they wanted. Nor, they said, did they want to shut the kids down.
Lemonade stands are not illegal, per sé. But there is a bylaw against selling in a residential area. Permits are required for garage sales, for example. But kids’ lemonade stands are generally left alone, unless there are safety concerns. The only issue in the Massa boys’ case was the megaphone.
Pierrefonds-Roxboro Mayor Jim Beis lives just down the street from the Massa family, and had even gone over to buy a glass of lemonade. At that point, he said, the kids were not using the megaphone, leading him to believe that the police got their message across. But the issue of how the situation apparently escalated still needed to be addressed. As a community-minded Mayor, Beis was hoping to smooth things over. He had planned to address the issue in council with the commander of Station 3, with the hope that police and Massa might come to some kind of peaceful resolution.
In the meantime, the Red Coalition, an organization that usually investigates cases of racial profiling, will be filing a complaint with the Police ethics commission on behalf of Massa and her boys.
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