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Police Stand Behind G20 Actions

Police Stand Behind G20 Actions

Canadian Police stand guard during the G8/G20 as protesters approach June 26, 2010 in Toronto. [AP]

The Montreal Gazette

July 02, 2010

TORONTO – The Toronto Police Service says it has yet to hear any “specific allegations” of officer misconduct during the G20 protests despite lawsuit threats from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and increasing calls from other rights groups for a public inquiry.

“Quite frankly, I haven’t seen any specific formal allegation,” Toronto Police Staff Superintendent Jeff McGuire told the National Post yesterday.

“We’ll stand by the things that we did that we felt were appropriate and if there is misconduct identified, it will be dealt with.”

Toronto police have launched an internal review of their own actions during the summit protests, a process Chief Bill Blair has said will ensure “accountability … for every single officer who is deployed on our streets.”

But such assurances have only served to incite further demands for a public inquiry into police conduct by civil rights groups, including thousands of people who gathered yesterday for a peaceful protest at Queen’s Park that later moved down University Avenue to Dundas Street.

Many on hand were those held at the Eastern Avenue detention centre and alleged police brutality, including denying detainees water, food and phone calls, and packing upwards of 40 people into a single 10-by-20-foot cell.

Tommy Taylor told the crowd he was on a date with his girlfriend on Saturday when they were both arrested while walking along the Esplanade.

He said all of the portable toilets in the cells had no doors and people were forced to use them in front of each other and could not wipe themselves because they were handcuffed.

“Taking a piss with your hands cuffed gets a little messy,” he said. “It was like some kind of a deranged social experiment.”

Police arrested more than 1,000 people during the week of the summit, including accredited members of the media and protesters who were reportedly demonstrating peacefully.

About 700 of those arrested were charged with breach of peace and subsequently released, while another 263 were charged criminally and held for bail.

Nathalie Des Rosiers, general counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, says her organization has received close to 100 complaints alleging police misconduct — including harassment, assault and wrongful imprisonment — and is considering a joint lawsuit against many of the police forces involved.

“Ideally, we would hope the federal government would offer a compensation package to not only people wrongfully detained, but also business owners who had their property damaged, so that there would be no need for lawsuits,” Ms. Des Rosiers said.

“But in the situation where there is no response, we have to force their hand by instituting proceedings.”

Toronto police have been on a public relations kick in attempt to buck criticism, with Chief Blair holding a press conference on Tuesda y at police headquarters showcasing an array of items, such as sledge hammers, crowbars and bear spray, obtained from people arrested during the G20.

Yesterday, an emergency meeting of the force’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgendered Community Consultative Committee was convened to address concerns over the treatment of people from the LGBT community during the summit and the police chief’s appearance at a Pride event in downtown Toronto on Tuesday night, where angry protesters shouting “Shame! Shame!” tried to prevent his entrance to the venue.

Pride celebrates its 30th anniversary in the city this weekend and police are keen to ensure the celebration is a success.

“We met to encourage the community to focus on enjoying Pride,” said committee member Christopher Hudspeth.

“There very well may be allegations that come forward and if there are, they should be taken to the Ontario Independent Police Review Director. I think it’s important things go through the proper channels.”

In Ottawa, Liberal MP Mark Holland is asking Public Safety Minister Vic Toews to address concerns about “violent incidents surrounding the G8 and G20 summits,” and hints that the National Security Committee may be addressing these issues soon, meaning some MPs could be called back to Parliament Hill during the summer.

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