Inappropriate Behaviour By Garda Security

I’m not a confrontational person, I try to avoid conflict, I even gave myself two days to cool off, but it hasn’t helped, so now I’m going to share my story. This weekend two girlfriends and I had planned to go to the Beaches Jazz Festival, but because of the rain we ended up at the Eaton Centre and Yonge and Dundas Square. We walked along the stalls and stopped at an unattended stall at the very end of the lane. We browsed the hand-made, plastic jewelry on the table when a security guard from the Garda company decided to watch over us. He stood directly behind each of us (and by directly, I mean his body was no father then 3 inches behind me), it was annoying and awkward, but for the most part I just rolled my eyes and ignored him. Once the stall attendant came back he rushed over to her and cupped his hand over her ear and whispered something to her. I watched and just thought, how juvenile! When he left, I had a short conversation with the attendant.

Me: What did he say to you? ‘Cause if he told you we were trying to steal from you I can assure you we were not.

Her: No, he just said that we might be closing early because of the rain.

Me: *I’m not an idiot expression on my face*

Her: Well, he was just doing his job.

Me: That’s not my issue, my problem is that we’re three small Asian women and he could have watched over us without placing his body in our personal space, that was just inappropriate! (in my head I just thought, if we were boys, he wouldn’t have placed his body that close)

I was mad, she was uncomfortable and the three of us walked away.

I was annoyed at the situation, but it wasn’t until one of my girl friends turned and told me she felt him against her and that she felt violated that I was mad, really mad! His conduct was inappropriate, unprofessional and unacceptable. My girl friend is shy and embarrassed about the situation, so I’m being her voice because she should not go unheard! I’ve sent a letter to the Garda as well as Yonge and Dundas Square, a copy can be seen below.

To whom it may concern,

I was at Yonge and Dundas Square in Toronto on Saturday, July 24, 2010 at approximately 6pm when my friends and I were approached by one of your employees. We were looking at jewelry at an unattended stand when the security guard approached and made his presence known by standing 3 inches behind me. It was awkward and uncomfortable, but since I had no interest in stealing the $5.00 plastic beads off the table, I just ignored him. My problem is when he decided to stand directly behind my girlfriend and had his body brush up against hers.

My friends and I are in our mid-twenties, but we can pass for high school students, and if this is how he acts toward actual 18 year old girls, I think you have a serious issue. He should not be touching anyone! My friend is too shy and too embarrassed to say something, but I’m not letting this slide. This was grossly inappropriate behaviour from one of your employees and should NEVER happen again. Despite having my Masters in Professional and Corporate Communications I can’t find another way to say this, his penis should not have been 3 inches from my ass!

I understand his desire to watch over the stand to ensure that we didn’t steal anything, however his behaviour was inappropriate and violated our, but especially her, personal space. Unwanted touching is grounds for sexual harassment and I hope you will take appropriate action towards this individual. If he wanted to keep us from stealing, he only needed to stand over to the side and watch our hands, however, from where he was standing, I’m sure he couldn’t see them.

I want an apology, I  want an explanation, and I want to know that this issue will be dealt with. Until then, this email, as well as a detailed account of the incident will be posted to my blog.

I refuse to be silent on this issue, no one should have to feel violated in a public space by someone who is hired to make it feel safer! Please pass this along and leave a comment.

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