07.03.2010 07:18 AM

G20: needs to be read

Earlier that day, well before the much-publicized destruction on Yonge Street, I’d been threatened with arrest for “obstructing” a search by trying to take a picture (at a respectful distance) of two young men being searched.

An officer there had tried to grab my cellphone. Other officers had crowded around. They boisterously mocked the psychiatric patients coming out of the mental-health hospital behind me.


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    Mark-Alan Whittle says:

    What I find strange is Dalton McGuinty’s answer to this public outcry, like don’t worry, be happy. What’s with that?

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    thor says:

    It is the same story every time. When I lived on campus at UBC in 1997 for the APEC conference this type of behaviour happened regularly leading up to the event. Police were directly told they were violating the constitution by acting inappropriately, but they didn’t seem to care all that much. Political leaders at the time seemed to think it all a big joke. That, I will never forget. RCMP infiltrators and agent provocateurs, it came out later, were ubiquitous and active.

    What is disturbing for me is the speed with which the protocols and safeguards are abandoned by those who are supposed to uphold them. Experience has shown them that it is far easier and far more lucrative to overstep legal boundaries and then let it all disappear down the memory hole. Any footage of police violence and overreaction and illegality will be sealed in court proceedings.

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    Robbie says:

    Disturbing G20 story in my community paper:http://www.mrtimes.com/news/Summit+Ridge+woman+shot+with+rubber+bullets/3227612/story.html

    To those who claim that people should have stayed away to avoid trouble with the authorities ask yourself: how would I respond if this was my sister, daughter, niece, or cousin that was treated this way?

    How would I respond if I was John Booth; and it was my home that was invaded in a botched raid? Who do I call if a state agent has a loaded weapon pointed in my face in the privacy of my own bedroom at 4:00 AM, knowing my wife and child are down the hall unprotected? Do I call 911? the municipal police? the RCMP?

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    Doug says:

    It appears that all three levels of government are tacitly colluding to downplay this story until it is forgotten. I guess we have to hope that the courts side with citizens since our elected representatives have so clearly abandoned our interests. I have to say this whole incident and the response from municipal, provincial and federal politicians has seriously disillusioned me. I hope that continued pressure by citizens will keep the story alive.

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    James Smith says:

    There needs to be a public review of the actions of police last weekend for several reasons.
    1-Boys & their toys
    When one gives groups of men (with some token women thrown into the mix) toys they want to use them.
    We saw it at Queens Park during the Harris / OCAP riot, & it happen whenever the police/army/security guards get dressed to play rugby, they find an excuse to play.
    2- Was the command incompetent
    Punks were allowed to trash stuff then storm trooper tactics were unleashed in downtown Toronto – who allowed that to happen & why?
    3- The Queen & Spadina Round-up-in-the-rain
    When asked about this debacle, Toronto Police said most, if not all the officers who were involved were either OPP or RCMP so it was up to the citizens effected to complain to those authorities. – How is that a thing? The officer in charge of that situation needs to be called – in public – to answer for his/her actions, not folks who were the victims of police stupidity & abuse.
    4-Lack of situational communications.
    The common story of many, including your post was: WTF was going on? Story after story tell no chance given to move along peacefully, – some cases when this was suggested, people were moved into the path of ramped-up riot cops looking to crack heads.
    5- Goals & objectives
    Again and again the Police say their goal of keeping the GD-20 safe was primary & they did their job with not loss of life, & little property damage. Is this EFFing Afghanistan? That this is even stated as a thing is appalling.

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    Namesake says:

    The link in the post didn’t work on a home PC; here ’tis.


    Note, some people seem to think that people simply shouldn’t have been on the streets d/t after 5 pm Sat. until the G20 was over because the Riot Act was in effect, but that was not the case: at least, they didn’t tell anyone that it was! (And it’s not as though they had no means of doing so, like, say, radio & TV bulletins, and public address systems like megaphones; or gee, wouldn’t it have been great if they had somethin’ like, I dunno, a giant megaphone — a SOUND CANNON — to warn people to stay off the streets for their own safety because everyone out would be treated as a suspect in the vandalism.)

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      allegra fortissima says:

      I do know a bit about SOUND CANNONS – described in the German media as ” Long Range Acoustic Devices” that were utilized in Irak. They cause sounds up to 150 dezibel, along with possibly strong pains and hearing damage! Apparently some critics reminded the Canadian authorities that “this is Toronto and not the Tiananmen Square in Peking”. (Der Spiegel, Nr.24/14.6.10)

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    Namesake says:

    BTW, some folks have been crowing about a new Angus Reid poll purportedly showing that most Canadians approve of the police response.


    I made this critique of taking too much solace in that poll in another, more hawkish blog’s comments:

    First, the top-level summary that 2/3’s of Cndns approve of what the police did is largely a function of combining the gung ho “completely justified” (41%) with the far less of an endorsement, “Moderately justified” (25%).

    Second, like the innocent bystanders who got boxed in by the cops contradictory instructions about how & whether they had to clear the streets, the sweeping nature of the Q itself made it near impossible to give honest dissent; viz:

    Q, Overall, how would you describe the reaction of the police in Toronto to the demonstrations that took place on Saturday and Sunday?

    Even people like me who think there were many travesties have to concede that they were justified in making _some_ arrests, sure, so I’d have to say they were moderately justified. But does that mean I don’t think there should be an inquiry? Hell, no. But the poll didn’t ask that, or even whether there were some important aspects of the police response — and deployment, & non-response, that one fateful hour* — that one may strongly disapprove of.

    Third, like the Cons & cops, most people are conflating “the demonstrations” with the anarchist BlackBlockheads: they’re not at all the same thing, but it’s just the latter — the torched cop cars & busted windows — they saw over & over on the news. And the question trades on that.

    Given the next q’s — was it a mistake to hold it in TO., & should the feds reimburse the city more — I suspect this was all deliberate, & that it was commissioned by the city both to whitewash the police response & to put the squeeze on the feds.

    Fourth, the respondents simply weren’t that well informed about what’s bothering those of us who are.

    It asked, “How closely did you follow …the demonstrations in Toronto,” and only 1 in 5 Cndns. said “very closely.” So, yeah, if most people only saw the burning cars & busted windows shots, sure, they’d think it was a full on riot out there, & so everyone got what was coming to them. People have to really dig through the alternative media to get to the bottom of what really went down, which few if any of those respondents did.

    This other blog gets into that:


    * For an account of how they were told to stand down instead of nip the vandalism in the bud to restore order that was informed by the cops themselves, see:


    That may be the last column by Warmington, tho’, seeing how Kory has just purged the other Sun reporters who’ve dared to embarass the HarperCons, tho:


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    Tim says:

    I’m with Mark-Alan. While I never thought we’d hear anything more than the usual from the other levels of government and the police, I was actually hoping to hear something more thoughtful and constructive from Queen’s Park. There are too many stories similar to Ms. Southey’s to warrant this total lack of concern and reaction from those in charge. It erodes faith and respect for the police and the government, particularly among young people who joined the protests expecting their rights to be respected.

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    Northern PoV says:

    It seems that those “average” citizens caught up in the ugly police riot (ie those not peacefully protesting or vandalizing) all got “politicized”. Even the G&M and SUN reporters.

    If a conservative is a liberal whose been mugged, then perhaps…
    a newly minted civil rights advocate is an average citizen that got mugged by the police!

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    David de Weerdt says:

    Warren, the police response to G20 protests outrages the Canadian in me. The Canadian as in: “Mine is a country that respects human rights, fair play, decency.” I think the problem is that our law enforcement officials have a mind frame about ‘protest’ set back a few decades. They’re not capable of dialog with protesters, of making common-sense decisions based on what is right in front of them – the sent police out physically and psychologically armed for a battle, behind mental barricades so high could not but act like brutes when dealing with anyone inside a crowd.

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    Ronald O'Dowd says:

    Dalton needs to seriously meet with a renowned blogger…something about the law of diminishing political returns.

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    palmerston says:

    The only thoughtful and constructive comments that I’ve seen from a politician are from councillor and Toronto mayoralty candidate Joe Pantalone. I don’t work for Joe, etc., but believe the good stuff has to be carried forward.


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    J. Coates says:

    Why am I not surprised at the behavior of our so-called peace officers. These fools and and idiots are being paid at our expense.

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    Michael says:

    In my post above, I meant to add #6 (subheading – “What we haven’t had”) to the part above….yay continuity! Sorry for any confusion.

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    Aurelia says:

    Everyone commenting is ignoring the fact that the police were harassing and ridiculing the mental patients coming out of CAMH, a place they live, and what does that say about our police force? About our society?

    Do you know that the first thing the police did upon arresting people was to take away medication? And refuse to administer it to anyone? Diabetics, heart patients, mental patients? They arrested people who were simply walking down the street, going grocery shopping, and they needed their medication to survive in custody for hours and days.

    Do you know that this is normal in Ontario, and that medication is regularly withheld from mental patients in custody? Then everyone gets shocked when they become psychotic, lose impulse control, and act out against guards…..and are then charged and put into solitary and still refused medication.

    What Tabitha Southey saw was sadly, the norm.

    Which makes us? Horrific.

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      Michael Watkins says:

      Conveniently, Mayor Miller is in the gun sights of many, and many of the police involved report to him and his council. Had this been in B.C., there’d be no provincial police so the only other entity under fire would be the federal government, namely Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and his boss Steve Harper, but the event wasn’t in B.C. it was in Ontario so there is some responsibility linkage at the provincial level. That all said, ultimately the RCMP were in charge. No doubt there is a Designated Fall Guy in place already.

      Assuming anyone remembers to ask the questions come fall, I can already hear Toews repeating the mantra “the experts managed security – who are we to challenge experts?” which was basically the line spewed pre-summit when costs were being called out of proportion.

      I doubt we’ll see anyone at the provincial level tackling this one head on. Its up to people and the media.

      PS: Maybe Harper missed an opportunity here to refine his image. Just imagine the beef-cake status points he could have earned had he attempted to channel Trudeau. If only he’d muttered “Just watch me” in response to a “how far will you go” question…

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        Michael Watkins says:

        Letter from the mother of a daughter of a policeman (who was on duty at the G20) who was beaten and arrested:

        I did not celebrate Canada Day. That morning at dawn, I removed all my Canada Day flags and decorations from my property.

        To think I would see the “trampling” of our collective rights and the right to “free speech” being discarded is devastating to me as a once proud Canadian. The actions of police in arresting and charging those who were peacefully exercising their rights is something I would expect to witness anywhere else but Canada.

        The words “the true north strong and free” of our national anthem are now a mockery.More>

        But apparently store windows being smashed by a small few is enough for many, perhaps most, Canadians to decide that the whole lot are bad. Clearly more stories like the above need to be told to change that perception or this will be yet another issue that skates by under the radar and forgotten.

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    Ronald O'Dowd says:


    More proof that ignorance is bliss — especially for the woefully ignorant.

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    Ariella says:

    As I read this in Roncesvalles, I can hear my neighbour the business executive and his kids discussing the events of last weekend on their back deck. Everywhere I walk, I hear snippets of conversation, and it’s not happy. Warren, I think we may have lost our chance of winning Parkdale-High Park.

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    Philip says:

    I’m not sure business will ever be back in the same manner as before Scot. Certainly not in the U.S. Check out the book “This One is Different”, written by two economists, who have crunched the numbers of 80 countries over a period of 800 years. This is a much larger sample and much longer time window than almost every economist uses to formulate their predictions. Upshot that this depression is just getting started and will be deeper and longer than the Great Depression of the 1930s. Not pretty reading.

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    Robert McMaster says:

    The verdict is in. The cops over did it. Most people have figured out that the direct action crowd is not representative of the main crowd. The moral high ground has been positioned. Round One. The copiscenti tried to make this stick but they fell short. Round Two.

    The cops have shot their wad and they looked stupid at the Monday ‘weapons’ roll out. Round Three. This is a pr tipping point. As more stories come out about horrific cop treatment the more the scales are tipped. Round Four. We give you 20.000 uber-cops and you can’t stop an expected bunch of anarchists? Round Five

    The ‘bogey men’ busted some windows and torched some police vehicles. How’d that happen with 20K cops? Anyone taking blame here? Round Six. Most people have figured out that arresting every one in sight was not right. Did the cops hire this crew as agents? Round Seven. This cost too much money. Round Eight. This hurt Toronto business activity. Round Nine. Toronto’s reputation is therapeutically tarnished. Round Ten.

    I’ll take that. Everything is just where it should be. The dynamic is favourable. May there there be many more such ‘victories’.

    McGuinty has played this pretty smart so far. A concession would do well about now. Timing is everything.

    Tunney beats Dempsey.

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