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Reader's stories #1: Police Harrasment

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by Toronto Media Co-op

Reader's stories #1: Police Harrasment

The Toronto Media Co-op is looking for reader accounts & tips. If you have something information or stories you would like to tell us please click on this link.

The following account was submitted to us by Drew Johnston. We reprint it here with her permission:

On Saturday night I was with my partner attempting to find an open subway station to get home. We were walking down Bloor St headed east, we saw two activists standing next to a van with several police officers standing next to them. 
As we walked by we noticed a police officer had a young male pinned to the back of the van by an officer. We stood back and watched as the cops dumped the bags onto the ground. We waited until the four activists were released, and offered our cell phone to allow them to call legal services. 
We walked not ten feet, as they called legal services, another van of cops stopped and separated each one of us. 
The officer asked to search me. I said I did not consent to a search. I was not carrying any type of bag. He told me to unzip my sweater. He began standing in front of me patting from my stomach up to my breasts. He patted and squeezed my breasts. Went behind me, patted my back and then reached around to touch my breasts from behind me. The officers allowed us to leave. 
We did not get another block  without being stopped by police and illegally searched again. The officer demanded my partner hand over his back pack. When he said that he did not consent to a search, the officer replied " I didn't fucking ASK to search you," and tore the backpack off his back. 
The officer set the bag on the ground, began tearing through it. Inside we had a plastic Ziploc bag containing four bandanna's soaked in apple cider  vinegar in case of tear gas. The officer began screaming, asking who's bag it was. When my partner identified himself as the bags owner, the cop screamed ""BLACK BLOC?"". 
My partner and myself said "NO". The officer  grabbed my partner, punching him in the head. Throwing him to the ground, smashing his face off the pavement. The officer put handcuffs on him, and pulled him off to the side so we could not see. 
An officer looked through my wallet that was in the backpack. Handed it to me and  
told me and the others to leave. I said I would not leave. The cop told me that I had to leave or I would be arrested. I walked away to find someone with a cell phone. 
I called the legal line, and my partner was released 15 minutes later.
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485 words


Corralled at Queen and Spadina

 A friend and I decided to go down to Queen and Spadina and see if the protests were still going on.  It was around 6pm on Sunday when we arrived at the intersection to find a similar scene as had come to be expected over the past two days: dozens if not hundreds of riot police forming lines across the street and a group of protesters standing around not really doing much.  I would later discover that a large number of the people at the intersection at that time had no intention of taking part in any protest and were simply caught in the middle of a mob.  

What happened next also wasn't such a terrible surprise.  The police had the southern, eastern and western ends of the intersection blocked off, leaving only the north for the protesters to move.  A fourth line of police coming down Spadina from the north began to form.  It quickly became clear to the 200-300 people in the crowd, including myself and my friend, that there was no possible way to leave at this point.  A row of maybe 5 streetcars, which had gone out of service, then began to back up (away from the intersection) to make way for a solid line of riot police, which continued to beat their shields as they marched forward.  Within about 5-10 minutes we only had about 20 meters of space between the two police lines.  That number would soon be cut in half as the northern line slowly pushed us farther in.  

The scene inside the crowd was at first hectic and rather tense.  People were red-faced shouting "where are we supposed to go?  you've blocked us in?"  Others, like myself, were becoming increasingly nervous that we would become the riot police's proverbial fish in the bucket.  In short, it came to a point where we were all expecting either rubber bullets, tear gas, beatings or some combination.  We were all shouting "peaceful protest!  we are peaceful!" one man suggested that we all put our hands in the air to indicate we had no weapons and were will to cooperate.  This only seemed to make the situation more tense as that same man who had been trying to calm people down in order to prevent any violence from occurring, was (about 15 minutes later) one of the first of several dozen to get arrested.  Every 5 minutes or so the police would enter the crowd and arrest people at random.  

Then the torrential downpour hit and we spent the next 2-3 hours standing in the rain.  Some had umbrellas, others huddled under their protest banners.  Unfortunately I was in short sleeves (others were actually shirtless) without an umbrella.  The police did and said nothing.  Some officers did talk to individuals about what was going on, but this only added to the confusion.  Some told us we were all criminals and that we had breached the peace and were all going to be arrest, others said that we'd all get processed and only some of us would be arrested.  Several chartered TTC buses as well as a few coach buses showed up after sunset and sat there idle.  

We stood in the rain for some time with absolutely no indication as to what would be down with us, why this was happening, what they were doing or anything.  The lack of communication from the police to the protesters was shocking and was a major contributor to the absurdity of the whole situation.  Finally, toward the end of the ordeal, one officer (without a megaphone) attempted to shout out to us that we would all be put on the aforementioned buses and dealt with individually, and that we'd all get out of the rain and be dry.  This never happened.  We stood for about 15 or 30 more minutes before they finally said something to us (which I couldn't hear do to their lack of amplified audio equipment) which translated into the northern line of riot police breaking formation and allowing us to leave like herded cattle.  

Most of us could barely walk due to the cold and stiffness of our muscles and joints.  Standing in the rain and wind huddled up with strangers for 3 and a half hours will do that apparently.  In the end, we were never offered much explanation as to why we had been unlawfully held on a public street for so long in adverse weather conditions.  Police Chief Bill Blair would later argue that we were given three warnings to leave the area before they closed us in.  This is likely the most brazen lie I have ever witnessed the construction of.  We were NEVER warned, asked or told to leave.  We were never instructed or given any indication of what was required of us other than "move back."  Again, the lack of communication or care for the rights of citizens of Canada was both ridiculous and disgusting.  Shame.

and you are a moron

to the inbred retard that mentioned a whaaaambulance, accusing the poster of being a terrorist... get a clue , wanker.


Being prepared for potential threats is not punishable. That's like saying wearing kevlar in a warzone makes you a combatant. Wrong. It just means you had the foresight to protect yourself if attacked. There is no crime in that.


Get a clue.

re: police harassment

Awww.. did you have to call a whhhhaaaaa-mbulance to attend to all of your whining?

If you weren't a terrorist you wouldnt have been prepared for a tear-gas fight and conversely the police wouldnt have had to disarm you.

"A friend and I decided to go

"A friend and I decided to go down to Queen and Spadina and see if the protests were still going on."

The only nugget of truth during your entire story, and yet knowing what was "going on" you and your friend placed yourselves in the middle of a volatile situation and the police are supposed to be responsible for you while you're gawking.....wake up and grow up!!!!

You state, "We were NEVER warned, asked or told to leave" and yet in the next sentence you admit you were told to "move back".

It appears that either you do not have a basic grasp of the english language, or your "story" is nothing more than B.S.
I'm inclined to believe the latter

response to Bruce

 "move back" doesn't translate into "please leave" if the "back" that you are being told to move to is blocked off by another line of riot police.  

Thank you for the brief English lesson, I am a better person because of it and you've certainly helped me mature.  A tip on legal advice: there is no law restricting access to public city streets.  My decision to go there and the reasons behind it are not what is at issue.  The issue is the lack of clear communication between police and protesters as well as the simple fact that detaining a mass of people on a public street with no explanation for extended periods of time in adverse weather conditions is unlawful.  Period.  I don't need a reason to be at Queen and Spadina on a Sunday evening, G20 or not.

Note the journalists who were also caught up in the group who have reported in The Globe and Mail the exact same scenario i have outlined.  Since you weren't there, it's nice to see that your opinion is so passionate and well-founded.  Congratulations.  

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