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An account of my arrest and detainment at the G20 summit

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.
Riot cops descend on peaceful protestors.
Riot cops descend on peaceful protestors.

I am a twenty-one year old student at McGill University. I came to toronto to protest the g20 as an assistant to a radio journalist for CKUT's Native Solidarity News, and as an environmental and social justice activist. I write this account with the hopes that my experience will reveal the unjust conditions of containment occurring and that those responsible will be held accountable for the unlawful treatment of those arrested during the g20 summit.
I was arrested while sitting peacefully in the designated 'freedom of speech' area at Queen's park on Saturday at around 5pm. I sat with around 6 friends, one of whom was clearly wearing a press pass. At no point was the assembly announced as unlawful.

Officers in riot gear march towards us banging their batons on their shields. When we refused to move they kicked at us, hit us with their batons, and pulled us behind the front line to arrest.

I was taken by 4 officers, my hands zip tied tightly behind my back, and my bag was cut off of my shoulders. I was then put in a small section of a paddy wagon with a friend.  It was incredibly hot. We were left in this small cramped space for approximately an hour before being moved into a larger section of the paddy wagon with 4 other women. Some of these women had been beaten, another trampled by police horses.

After several hours, and repeatedly crying out for water, an officer brought over 2 500ml bottles to share between the 6 of us. He was immediately reprimanded by a higher-ranking officer who called out, "What the fuck do you think you're doing? Prisoners don't get water! Prisoners don't get air!", and then proceeded to slam shut the window to our small cell leaving us in incredible heat and discomfort.

From the paddy wagon we were transferred to a cell on a greyhound bus. From the window we witnessed the transfer of a man of limited mobility. He had only one leg and the officers had removed his prosthetic leg and placed it in the area between the paddy wagon and the bus. Visibly struggling to keep his balance, the man was forced to hop unassisted past his prosthetic leg onto the bus.

From the bus I was taken to the detention center at Eastern and Pape. I was put in a cell with approximately 20 other young women. My friend and I waited for over 6 hours. No one had taken our name, photo, or any information.

This was not unusual. During my stay many women had had their documentation lost and were in a veritably bureaucratic limbo: unable to be transferred or released, with no record of their arrest existing.

After repeatedly vocalizing our worry, I was finally processed. After approximately 6 hours in this first cage I was then searched and taken through to a second area. My glasses were removed and I was left with limited vision. I was transferred from one cell to the next, staying in a total of 5 cells during my stay (sometimes being repeatedly shuffled back and forth between those same cells).

There was a clear lack of organization. Many officers were unable to answer questions, responding "I don't know what's going on either, I wish I could tell you something, anything, but I don't know what's going on". Groups of 10-20 officers stood around doing nothing, 'following orders', while people went without food, water, or medical treatment.

It was over 12 hours before I was given any food. The bathroom-less cage where I spent roughly 9-10 hours of my stay was very cold and I was wearing only a tank top and shorts. We were 8 women in a cell 6 feet by 9 feet. We huddled together for warmth, lying cuddled in an attempt to warm ourselves with body heat. Under bright lights, on cold concrete floors, with nothing given to us for warmth but a few pairs of sweat pants, it was incredibly difficult to sleep at all. The lack of natural light and removal of our watches was highly disorienting.

Not only were officers incredibly disorganized, some were also incredibly oppressive and ignorant. I was repeatedly chastised for being "unemployed" and called an "uneducated, unemployed bitch" by another. Officers cat called women, and made snide sexist remarks. Otherwise targeted women of colour, speaking to them in phony accents, ridiculing them. 

I was held for just over 24 hours. At no point in this time was I given access to a phone, or given legal counsel. Of the over 70 people I spoke with no one had been given access to a phone.

Many were also denied access to medical treatment. A man in a cell across from me with a reported concussion was denied access to a doctor. It was four hours before he was given a simple glass of water. 

When I had finally seen the staff sergeant and was told I would be released two officers escorted me down the make shift hallway. I spoke with them about the troubling things I had seen, about the injustice of the mass arrests. They were sympathetic, stating "it would be too cruel to put you back in another cell". When we arrived at the end of the hallway, an officer stated "there are too many protesters outside, it's unsafe for you to leave at this time".

I challenged his statement, knowing that those 'protesters' were community members there in solidarity, to welcome and comfort me upon release. I was also fully aware of the brutal arrests made at the jail solidarity gatherings earlier that morning.

Due to the supposed danger these people posed, I was placed back in a cage once again. My spirits fully crushed, I could do nothing but sit crumpled on the floor crying in anger and frustration.

Of the horrible things I witnessed, I was heartened by one thing: the strength of the women and men who were also imprisoned. Women literally stood in solidarity, blocking door-less bathroom stalls from the view of male officers. People educated each other about the reasons why they were fighting against the illegitimate g20, sang songs, comforted one another. Many who were arrested were simple bystanders, completely unaware of the g20. They were quickly converted, and many vowed to become activists themselves, fighting against the police brutality we had witnessed.

The arrests made were unlawful and completely arbitrary. The conditions of the detention center were deplorable. Those in charge should be reprimanded, as should those officers who stood by and did nothing for those crying out in need.

I am happy to have finally been released and thank my family, friends and all who have supported me during this trying time. My thoughts go out to all those still being unjustly held.

I encourage all those who have been detained to share their stories. Contact the media co-op by filling out this form.


People who need support/counselling/resources relating to trauma/sexual abuse/police violence etc. from this pastweek can contact: or contact:

To file an incident report with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) you can find the online complaint form here.


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About the poster

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View Dana Holtby's profile »

Recent Posts:

Dana Holtby (Dana Holtby )
Montreal, Qc
Member since June 2010


1198 words



I find this complete and utter bullshit.  You know, call me crazy, but if you stayed away from Toronto, fully knowing there were tons of police everywhere and violent protesters that would inevitably would come, you wouldn't find yourself in this predicament.


So quit bitching.  Nelson Mandela didn't bitch when he spent 27 years in Robben Island and he ushered ACTUAL CHANGE in his country.

 How about the fact that

 How about the fact that peaceful protesting is allowed and completely legal? If you have been keeping up with stories of that day, you would know that even people who listened to the police, or people who were simply trying to make their way home after doing nothing illegal, were all taken as well. It had nothing to do with people being dumb or doing things they knew were illegal or stupid. It was a peaceful protest. 

And I would say with the way these stories are spreading, actual change is being made. By the way, this is not bitching, this is spreading the stories of things that happened that night. How much do you know about Nelson Mandela? A lot? Yeah, that's because he shared his stories as well. ;)

Good day to you, stranger.

Next time

Move when the police ask you to and you would be fine!

Next time

Move when the police ask you to and you would be fine!

Move next time

The guy with the prosthesis was sitting on the ground when he was asked to move. Both he and his daughter told the cops it would take him a minute to get up- instead he was kicked, his prosthesis taken from him and he was dragged by his tied hands....

And this was his fault how?

Would you quit bitching if that had been you?

Doesn't sound like fun

Makes me not want to run afoul of the law next time I'm in Canada. And I thought the cops here in Portland were tough SOBs.


I will double and then redouble my efforts to oppose this garbage.  The actions taken by police in the streets have really opened my eyes.  I have already set up a meeting with my local MPP, I recommend the rest of you do the same.

next time

dramatic - perhaps over dramatic - you'll like it better in Cambodia

next time

here's an idea for you - start your own political party. When you have a platform that 51% of the people can support you can be the boss - when you host summits with world leaders, you can hold hands and talk about your feelings and eat free range granola bars.

 yes yes just keep conforming

 yes yes just keep conforming until we live in a system governed like a concentration camp. You are a strong woman and have Solidarity from Vancouver. Dont listen to these cowards, they will keep falling in line until there very last human right has been stripped from them. 


While to read about the horrific treatment you and others endured was alarming, even more so are some of comments on this article; justifying the disgusting actions of the police by blaming you.

I'll ignore the blatant plot holes

Like how you determined the length of time you spent in each cell, or how long the man was denied water, without the use of your glasses or watch. I will skip right to the point. What were you even doing there? Native solidarity? Environmental and social justice activist? The G20 meeting had nothing to do with any of that. They were discussing debt reduction for governments and raising capital requirements for banks to avoid another Lehman Brothers-type catastrophe. These are important issues. Who is gonna pay for natives to go to university for free if Canada's economy is dragged down by Europe's debt crisis? It won't be you, that's for sure. You people are complaining about the tar sands at a time when oil exports are keeping the Canadian economy afloat, as if money to protect the environment or relieve poverty in the third world will somehow be produced if everyone just forms a giant drum circle and sings Kumbaya. Strengthening the global economy comes first, everything else follows from that. Period. But let's pretend your's was an issue that should have been addressed this weekend. Let's, just for fun, pretend that this was the time and place to discuss what is important to you. It still doesn't matter. Why? Because every rock that was thrown, every window smashed, every bottle of urine hurled at cops, every police vehicle (paid for by hardworking taxpayers) burned served to undermine your cause. When the riots broke out, what little reason you had for being there evaporated. "But we were protesting peacefully," you'll say. It makes no difference. Every time peaceful activists stood by while public and private property alike was destroyed, and made no attempt to stop these actions, or at the very least take pictures or get descriptions for police, you all became part of the problem. You tacitly condoned domestic terrorism. And that's why I don't give a damn what happened to anyone who stayed in Toronto after it all went so terribly wrong.

So are any G20 protesters still @ MapleHurst Jail in Milton ?

There's no TTC out there &
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the local John Howard office was advised but they've never had to deal with this volume ...


I posted a message two days ago on this wall entitled 'Bullshit 2'. Your moderators took it down within a few hours of it being posted on the wall. Where is my right to the freedom of expression? There was nothing malicious, threatening or violent expressed so why are my civil liberties being impinged upon. This is hypocrisy to the nth degree. You make me sick to my stomach. There's a reason nobody will ever hear your pathetic whiney voice!

The 51% political party farce

I am sickened by the number of "brave souls" who post their visceral under "anonymous handles" and then claim to be for "free speech". When this idiocy then breaks down into their "argument" that "the vote" has given Mr. Harper the right to do what he wants for the propaganda of $1 billion spent on "security" for a week, then the idiocy of such "commentators" is merely confirmed.

Ignatieff and Layton will play this game in Ottawa simply because they hope that they can sway less than 30% of the Canadian population to "vote" for them because they are so angered by what "those Conservatives" do.

No. "Anonymous" handles hide and spit "51%" idiocy like the propagandists protecting their favourite dictators did.

Not so funny thing.

Toronto and Ontario police give back tax dollars, paid to them to protect the constitution, back to the Conservatives and Liberals in Ontario. They are enabled to do this because our courts are full of lawyers which gave to the same political parties, appointed as judges. Even our RCMP, once led by police promoted through their ranks, are overseen by an old friend (old Conservative affiliated lawyer named Wm. Elliott) of Conservative lawyer named Brian Mulroney. Now the path to the "figurehead monarch", via our GG, is also filled with an "esteemed lawyer" named David Johnston. This Liberal registered lawyer served Mr. Harper well in designing "the Oliphant inquiry". This became a farce of a hearing about a former Prime Minister who is not made "equal before the law", as our constitution compels, for cash swinging activities which would have seen any other citizen thrown into jail.

Indeed, as an individual who went through the exercise of trying to enter the last two federal elections as an independent candidate with a freed voice, all Canadians need to wake up to what impact the illegal encroachment of partisan discriminations into our institutions of governance and justice has to the credibility of our farcical "democracy". Dana Holtby may be right to protest at G20. But, she and many others need to read my pending book, Just Business, to understand how this can be achieved through peaceful political advancement which enforces and upholds the legal rights of all citizens of this nation on all days.

Then we will understand why it is that dictators like Harper think that less than 30% of our votes gives them any right to re-align 1 billion dollars to the promotion of our police. Holtby et al need to realize that there are real signals of democratic demise when our police become enrichened by money rapidly aligned for one week of propaganda enhancing meetings while the event is then used to crow that the same amount of money will be added to the plight of pregnant women and vulnerable babies over five years.

This is an invitation to Ms. Holtby to receive one "free" copy of this book so that she can educate herself, and use her "journalistic position" to educate the rest of society responsibly. Go to , Ms. Holtby. Use the links there and I will gladly provide you a book that will tell you why all of this should have ended in 1948. The example came from Nazi Germany where the courts and the police registered their allegiance to the politicians in power, to the denial of the rights of the citizen.

And when the protesting citizen dared to stand up, it was anonymous cowards who declared that the citizens who dared to protest got the beatings which they deserved.

Don MacAlpine, Nipigon, Ontario Canada (a town closer to Canada's Winnipeg than snobbish Toronto)

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