Thursday, July 01, 2010


Many civil liberties groups in Canada, including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Amnesty International , have called for an independent public inquiry into the actions of Toronto Police over the three days of the G8/G20 Summits in the Canadian city last weekend, 25/26/27th June 2010. They have been joined by Greenpeace and the Ontario leadership of the New Democratic Party, part of the Opposition in Canada’s parliament.
In three days of mayhem in the downtown areas of Yonge Street, the main shopping area, Queen’s Park, in front of the Ontario Legislature building, Queen Street and adjoining streets, protesters and local residents were subjected to violent baton charges, snatch squads, firing of tear gas and rubber bullets. People detained for hours in pouring rain in the street, prevented from departing by lines of heavily armed police. Sleeping people were pulled from their homes at gunpoint in the middle of the night. Many were beaten by Police after being arrested. The brutality and aggression shown by the Toronto Police has shocked people throughout Canada.
Journalists, including Jesse Rosenfeld, reporting for the British “Guardian” newspaper, were punched, arrested and had their equipment broken. Constitutional rights were disregarded, free speech and assembly brutally suppressed by Robocop gangs of Police some mounted on horses and over 900 people arrested. Detainees were held in steel cage cells with up to 30 people per cell, sleeping on concrete floors with open bathrooms, denial of food and water, illegal confiscation of medications, sexual harassment, severe verbal threats and intimidation, being refused access to legal counsel or phones, denying access to bail hearings in a timely manner; personal property stolen or sometimes smashed by Police, constant exposure to bright lights, and extreme exposure to cold, multiple searches including strip searches and more. On the Sunday morning, June 27th, the University of Toronto campus was raided twice and 75 arrests were made.
As public anger mounts across Canada, the Chairperson of the Toronto Civilian Police Board tried to mollify public criticism by admitting “mistakes in communication” in dealing with the security situation arising from the G8/G20 summits held in the city last weekend, stating that “the force may have made a mistake by not telling the public they’d mischaracterized the powers police had during the G20 summit”.“That may be one of the communication issues to be looked at,” Police Board chair, Alok Mukherjee, said in an interview on Wednesday, “whether the correction was properly notified to the public.”
According to Mr Mukherjee,it was the Ontario provincial Ministry of Community Safety that notified police Friday afternoon, June 25th,that the police force and its Chief were misinterpreting a controversial amendment the Ontario provincincial cabinet passed in secret on June 6th, supposedly to help police secure the area around the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Police had acted as if the temporary amendment to the Public Works Protection Act meant they could demand identification from, and search or arrest without warrant, anyone within five metres of the fence encircling the security perimeter. The Provincial Government of Ontario is now claiming that they agreed to the amendment only to be applied within the security fence and not outside it, stunned by the brutality of the Toronto Police actions against peaceful protest and the political backlash now sweeping the Province and throughout Canada.Toronto Police Chief ,Bill Blair, had given a press conference Friday morning, June 25th, defending the five-metre policy in the face of public consternation. Many civil-liberties advocates argued the amendment had been made in secret and without giving people proper notice that their rights had changed.
With widespread and mounting allegations of misconduct, arbitrary mass arrests and confusion over what powers police had – and why they didn’t clarify them to the public – “the whole thing is turning into quite a fiasco and absurdity,” said New Democratic Party leader, Andrea Horwath. An internal police review, she argued, “is not enough: It doesn’t give you that outside perspective. … These questions will only be answered by an independent review.”
Toronto Mayor, David Miller’s, spokesman Stuart Green said on Wednesday this week : ”the Mayor stands by remarks he made in support of the police previously, and sees no need for a third-party investigation”
Canadian Civil Liberties Association lawyer, Nathalie Des Rosiers and several constitutional lawyers, have argued that regardless of the way the amended Act was represented or acted upon, the fact that no one in the Province or the Police Force bothered to publicise it until just before the G20 weekend itself is problematic.“The CCLA is planning to help people who are seeking compensation to initiate a lawsuit in the Superior Court of Ontario,” said Des Rosiers, “We have a couple of plaintiffs”.Des Rosiers said the CCLA has been overwhelmed with phone calls and has already collected 75 complaints from people claiming they were wrongfully imprisoned, detained, harassed or assaulted by the police.
As the political fallout continues, solidarity rallies with those arrested and still detained have been organised in Toronto and other main cities for this week, including at Hamilton, Windsor and London, Ontario, and at Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver. The Toronto rally takes place today 01 July at Queens Park, outside the Ontario Legislature, where some of the worst police violence occurred last weekend. One of the worst scenes, which has aroused public anger all over the country, was the police baton charge of a group of peaceful protesters whose “crime” was singing their country’s national anthem “O Canada” in the street close to the legislature building. A crowd of more 1,000 gathered outside Toronto's police headquarters Monday evening this week to protest the massive police operation and allegations that people were arrested who had nothing to do with the violence."We don't want a police state," chanted the crowd, watched over by a large contingent of police officers. It later marched through the downtown area of the city.
In a front-page editorial on Monday, the “Toronto Star”, Canada's biggest circulation daily newspaper, called the summit security plan, and the reaction to it, "a brutal spectacle that failed a city and its people."They took our city to hold a meeting and bullied us out of the core, damaging the commerce of thousands of merchants and inconveniencing the entire population. Then, they failed to protect our property," the Star said.
Wily Ontario Provincial Premier, Dalton McGuinty, has failed to answer fierce legal criticism of his secret cabinet decision to alter the Ontario Protection of Public Works Act on 06 June last apparently giving Toronto Police wider powers of arrest and detention of citizens which contributed massively to the public unrest in the city last weekend during the G8/G20 summits, a decision which his own Ministry of Public Safety now says was "misinterpreted" by Police Chief Blair. The strong condemnation of the Toronto Police both within Canada and internationally no doubt having something to do with Mr McGuinty's Pontius Pilate stance.

FearFeasaMacLeinn Ath Cliath/Dublin, 01,Iuil,July 2010