October 22, 2010

G20 update

G20 update courtesy Toronto Police Accountability Bulletin No. 56, October 20, 2010.
Located at http://www.tpac.ca/

a) Class action law suit.
A class action lawsuit has been launched on behalf of Miranda McQuade and Mike Barber, representing 1150 persons whose rights were violated by the police during the G20 Summit in Toronto. The Statement of Claim was filed on September 2, 2010.

Those represented are the following:
All persons arrested or detained on June 26 or 27, 2010, in relation to the G20 by the police in downtown Toronto, including those charged with a criminal offence; and
All persons held at the detention centre on Eastern Avenue, in the City of Toronto, between June 25 and June 30, 2010, in relation to the G20.

The law suit will not be representing the business owners whose property was vandalized during the G20.

More information is available at www.g20defence.ca . Class members and witnesses can submit a form on that website or contact David Midanik, the lawyer for the plaintiffs, at dmm@g20defence.ca.

b) Police activity continues
The police continue to be active in G20 follow-up, and as videos are reviewed, more individuals are being arrested. It is unclear how many officers are assigned to these tasks from the Toronto force.

As more charges are being laid, more are being abandoned. One will remember the students from Quebec who came to Toronto to be part of the ant-G20 demonstrations. While sleeping on the floor of a University of Toronto building, they were woken by a police raid. About 110 students were arrested and taken to the Eastern Street detention centre where they were strip-searched, charge with conspiracy, and then kept for 36 - 48 hours before being given bail and released. They were required to return to Toronto three times for procedural matters before the court, On October 13 - three and one half months after being charged - the students were told that all charges would be dropped.

This seems similar to strategies used in other parts of the world against students - threaten them with the humiliation of strip-searches and jail, then leave them dangling for a while before announcing that there were no grounds for arresting them in the first place. The might be contrary to the Charter or Rights and Freedom, but once the police have used these tactics in Canada and emerged without consequence, other police might decide this is the way to behave.

Calgary police were part of the operation, and according to a story in the Calgary Herald, on June 28, officers there thought they learned a lot. `About 160 Calgary police officers say working the front lines of the G20 summit in Toronto gave them invaluable experience in crowd control,' reads the news story.

`"We were in Queen's Park (the Ontario legislature), and there's thousands and
thousands of demonstrators," said Calgary police Sgt. Peter Pecksen as he
arrived at the Calgary airport on Monday afternoon. "There's no comparison. We
just don't get crowds like that here."

`The officers, who are from the Calgary police public safety unit, said the
Toronto event was a chance for them to practice their crowd-control training.
"We just never have had to use those tactics to that degree in Calgary. It was a
fantastic opportunity for us to test them out and show that, yeah, they really do
work," said Pecksen.

`Calgary police Const. Stephan Van Tassell said everyone he worked with stayed
calm and focused on security. " We have good leaders, good management," he said. '

One worries whether the police procedures in Toronto - kettling, mass arrests, incarceration, strip search and then release after a day or two without laying charges - will be taken up be other police forces as the Calgary officers seem to suggest is occurring.

c) Reviewing police actions

The Toronto Police Service Board has appointed Justice John Morden, a former member of the Ontario Court of Appeal, and author of a book on civil rights in Canada, to review the role of Toronto police in the G20. The terms of reference are fairly board, including specific reference to the kettling (police surrounding several hundred people) at Queen and Spadina on Sunday evening for several hours in a torrential downpour, as well as events outside of the Eastern Avenue detention centre. The terms of reference and the intentions of this review can be found at www.g20review.ca .

But this is a limited review, and it is not an inquiry with the power to call evidence under oath. As the Canadian Civil Liberties Association notes on its web site (www.ccla.org).
"While this Review will make an important contribution to post-G20 police accountability, because of the Toronto Police Services Board's narrow jurisdiction, it will be limited to examining the actions of Toronto police and will not be well-positioned to consider the role of other police and security personnel, including the RCMP and CSIS, and federal and provincial decision makers."

Meanwhile, Ontario's police complaints mechanism, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) is currently finalizing the Terms of Reference for a review of police actions, and the Office stated on October 18 that these Terms will be publicly available when they are completed. The Office has received 320 complaints regarding police behaviour during the G20 - obviously a large number - and appointed OIPRD investigators have begun conducting the investigations for the review. The Office states the "review will investigate common issues in relation to complaints against police during the G20 summit."

Some question whether the OIPRD has a large enough legislative jurisdiction to probe many aspects of G20 security.

A broad federal inquiry - the one inquiry that could determine how things unfolded as they did - seems increasingly unlikely to be called.

d) Police records from the G20.

From the Canadian Civil Liberties Association web site:

"The CCLA is also increasingly concerned that police records generated about the many G20 arrestees who were never charged or whose charges have since been dropped may expose these people to long-lasting negative repercussions. To address this concern, the CCLA recently wrote to Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair asking him to expunge the police records of all G20 arrestees who were never charged or have since had their charges withdrawn or dismissed.

"The CCLA is particularly concerned that information about G20-related police contact may surface during police background checks that are regularly requested by some employers and volunteer agencies and unduly prejudice people who have done nothing wrong. In the context of the G20 Summit, more than 1100 people were arrested - including five of the CCLA's independent monitors - and over 800 of them were never charged with an offence. Of the close to 300 people that were charged, at least 58 have since had their charges withdrawn." [Since then, charges have been withdrawn against the 110 Quebec students.]

e) Speaking out politically

Alex Hundert was arrested pre-emptively, in the middle of the night, as a member of the Southern Ontario Anarchist Resistance on June 26, before any demonstrations began, and charged with conspiracy and counseling.

He was released on bail, one term of which was that he could not participate in any public demonstration. Then, on September 17, he was part of a panel discussion at Ryerson University - a boring and unlively event, according to one participant - but the police deemed that it was a `public demonstration', and he was jailed for breaching the terms of bail. Justice of the Peace Inderpaul Chandhoke has now clarified the terms of bail: Hundert cannot attend any public event that expresses views on a political issue, or expresses his views to the media.

The new terms have been called `astonishing,' `staggering in their breadth,' and `aimed at silencing speech.' An appeal is underway.

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