7.02.2010

we will not go quietly: canadians call for independent g20 inquiry

There were rallies in at least six Canadian cities yesterday, calling for an independent inquiry into the events surrounding the G20 summit in Toronto. People in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton, Windsor and Winnipeg - the ones I know of - came out to make their voices heard. (Update: Make that seven. Add London to the list.)

So far, the only "inquiry" will be internal, without civilian input or oversight, and the findings of that review may never be made public. It hardly needs to be said that this is ridiculously insufficient. You don't ask the fox what happened in the chicken coop (with apologies to foxes everywhere).
A Toronto Police report that will examine how officers acted during the G20 summit will have no civilian oversight until it is delivered to the police board.

The Summit Management After Action Review Team (SMAART) is made up of Toronto Police officers who will look at what police did, how they did it and areas they "should examine further," police spokesman Mark Pugash said Tuesday.

It will then be up to the Toronto Police Services Board to decide whether the report’s findings will be made public.

Several questions were asked of police in the hours and days that followed their response to G20 protests — including why they didn’t interfere with the vandals and looters wreaking havoc on downtown Saturday and why they held hundreds of people in the rain, some shivering in tank tops, for hours before releasing them Sunday night.

“Those are legitimate questions that the people of this city have asked and they deserve an answer to and we’ll get that answer for them,” Blair told reporters at police headquarters, where hundreds had gathered a day earlier to protest police actions during the summit. “I want to give (SMAART) an opportunity to do their work, to look at all of the decisions that were made, the resources that were available to them and the tactics that were deployed.”

Toronto Police Services Board chair Alok Mukherjee said he was “saddened by the rush to judgement that has happened.”

He's saddened by the rush to judgement? We are outraged at the rush to suspend our rights, jail and abuse peaceful protesters. We are disgusted at the great non-rush to contain the small gang of vandals that ran amok, conveniently providing police with an excuse to trample on ordinary citizens exercising their Charter rights.

I hear the protest yesterday in Toronto was great. The Globe and Mail estimates that 1,000 people came out, and given what we know about mainstream media's crowd estimates, that means a significant number of people chose to spend part of their Canada Day making their voices heard. This G&M story is really very good.
More than 1,000 loud but peaceful Torontonians – furious at police tactics, the G20 and seeing their city hijacked – converged on Toronto Police headquarters on College Street late Monday afternoon. Parents, businessmen, protesters and grandparents chanted and drummed in front of dozens of police officers before marching through downtown and converging on Queen’s Park for a dance party.

“Whose city?” they yelled, walking down streets that days ago had become scenes of tense and often violent confrontations with the police now flanking them on bikes.

“Our city!”

It was Richard Keshen’s first protest. He had been observing a march late Sunday afternoon, he says, when he saw protesters, reporters and passersby being hemmed in by police, then held in the rain for hours before mass arrests.

“I was disgusted,” he said.

. . . .

The march was consistently peaceful; the dozens of police on bicycles flanking the crowd made little attempt to interfere with anyone marching, nor did protesters try to breach the lines police set up at intersections along what appeared to be a largely improvised route.

There have been multiple allegations of police misconduct and brutality in connection with the way police arrested and detained more than 900 people in connection with protests surrounding the G20 summit. Several people are planning legal action in connection with arrests and with the public works act put in place prior to the summit that allowed police to arrest people who refused to provide identification or allow their bags to be searched near the fence surrounding the summit security area.

. . . .

“I'm not a rally speaker,” Naomi Klein told the cheering crowd. “But I'm pissed off.”

She and Ms. Rebick argued peaceful protesters had been unlawfully detained – and “We'll continue this fight,” Ms. Rebick said, “in the streets and in the courts.”

Protesters continued to pursue Chief Blair Tuesday evening, as a group of about 60 showed up at a Pride event to demand that the chief resign.

The crowd was kept out of the event itself, a reception hosted by Mr. Blair at Pride headquarters on Church Street, but some managed to get into the main floor of the building. Chanting “hey hey, ho ho Bill Blair has got to go,” the protesters alleged that queer arrestees were segregated in the temporary detention centre and subjected to homophobic remarks.

Mr. Blair walked past the shouting crowd on his way out as officers held them back. Asked by reporters about the reason for the protesters' anger, Mr. Blair brushed it off.

“Frankly, I wouldn't know and I'm not sure that I care,” he said.

Yes. Exactly.

As the truth dribbles out - there was no five-metre rule, the so-called weapons were seized in unrelated incidents, not from G20 protesters, questions about what really happened to those blazing police cars - it's important we keep informing each other, and keep expressing our demands, and not just to each other.

3 comments:

L-girl said...

TTC worker held for 36 hours, despite ID

Mike said...

I'm sure we'll get answers from SMAART, just as soon as they've been appriately spun er I mean examined.
I just read through the Globe and Mail's article on weapons seized over the weekend.Tennis balls as weapons? So is their going to be a Canadian hockey stick registry now?

L-girl said...

Reminder: comments being copied and pasted into dozens of blogs are considered SPAM. I reject them regardless of politics or relevance.