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Toronto Cops Don't Deserve a Free Ride

Police track record of violence, murder goes unexamined in the run up to the G-20 summit

by Dawn Paley

Police Brutality Mural in Derry, Northen Ireland, where the "less lethal" weapons that Toronto Police have been training with were developed by the British
Police Brutality Mural in Derry, Northen Ireland, where the "less lethal" weapons that Toronto Police have been training with were developed by the British
Junior Manon, killed by Toronto Police on May 5
Junior Manon, killed by Toronto Police on May 5

Toronto cops are getting a free ride in the corporate media in the lead up to the G20 summit, as protesters are presented as the biggest threat to security in the city.

But what the media is ignoring is the track record of the Toronto Police, which indicates they represent a far larger threat to the community than protesters.

"Toronto police have been involved in 500 deaths in the last five years, they've tried themselves 31 times and aquitted themselves 31 times," Syed Hussan from the Toronto Community Mobilization Network told the Toronto Media Co-op this morning.

Most recently, Toronto cops have come under fire for the murder of Junior Alexander Manon, an 18-year-old who was killed after running from police on May 5. Alexander was beaten to death and his neck was broken, says Hussan, and the police have since lied about the incident. "These are huge concerns, and the community is mobilizing," said Hussan.

The corporate media won't take the word of Manon's parents, who saw his body at the morgue, and have confirmed that their son was beaten by police.

"The media is racist, straight up… It doesn’t matter if it is the CBC or a privately owned broadcaster," said Noaman Ali, who works with BASICS Free Community Newspaper, when he spoke in Toronto last month.

The racism Ali refers to is reflected particularly strongly in the media's coverage of police violence. Extreme cases like the killing of Manon usually only make a blip on the corporate media landscape. But the daily realities of police harassment and brutality in Toronto most often go totally unreported.

"Every day I hear about friends and families who are pulled over, people who are harassed and intimidated, I've done workshops in Jane and Finch where the police have just barged in, just walked around, and just walked out, so there's ongoing harassment and intimidation," said Hussan.

In a 2008 letter, members of the Jane and Finch neighbourhood in Toronto expressed their concern about the police presence in their communities.

"The 'serve and protect' credo of the police is not felt in our community," reads the letter. "Citizens have described seeing or hearing abusive language, threatening behaviour, the excessive use of physical force, unfounded allegations, coercion and torture," it reads.

But instead of being admonished for their practices, Toronto Police have taken advantage of the G20 to rally for more weapons and protective gear. Tactical teams have been training with the ARWEN-37, a so called "less lethal" weapon that fires plastic bullets. Cops have stated they won't rule out the use of these weapons during the G20 summit.

"It's realistic to accept that there very possibly could be an injury to a person being struck by this projectile, but it's a less serious injury because it's deemed a non-lethal [weapon]," Ontario Provincial Police officer Mel Tourigny told the CBC.

Touringy's statement came as top politicians targeted people with particular political views as legitimate targets for police repression during the G20 summit.

"I think it shows the unfortunate power that a small group of thugs has," Treasury Board President Stockwell Day told CTV on Sunday. "And when I'm talking about thugs I'm talking about thugs, I'm talking about the anarchists and the violent groups who have already indicated that they're going to be there and they're going to cause trouble," he said.

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dawn (dawn paley)
Member since August 2008


Journalist, co-founder VMC, ex-editor & board member with Media Co-op. Author, Drug War Capitalism.

554 words


Great story Dawn!

Great story Dawn.

I bet there is tons to do there with the ramping up of the bullshit gongshow?

(felt that sentence did not deserve a question mark - haha)

Right on gurl!

See you soon.


Momma was right

when she said, "Fuck the police."

So was my friend, training to be a cop: "I love it. It's license to be a dick."

It won't get any better

CBC should be targeted. And every newspaper box--Globe, Star, Sun, Post...

Instead of facing off with the robofuckers we might be ripping up these targets.

Banks too.

Why put ourselves in direct line of fire, when there are so many targets around the city, far from the mad-cop crowd?


Just a thought.



you will never get far

With attitudes like this. Don't you realize that playin on the 'police brutality' is so 1990 man. Get over it. Try living in Uganda where I lived, then you can talk about police brutality. Y'all Canadians are so high on yourselves, where you consider 'harassment' from police, when they ask what you're doin out on da streets at 1am on J/Finch. Go live in a 3rd world and come back and stop trying to make like y'all lives are so difficult. you are such a joke to the general public.

we are the public

being a keyboard comment warrior is so 2000 man. get your own blog already, so it's easier for me to ignore your rank fucking nonsense.

HILARIOUS.......don't get why

HILARIOUS.......don't get why ppl thinks that any degree of police harassment/brutality is ok....maybe its worse other places....does that mean we should ignore it here when we have a voice to make it heard?

This really needs more attention

Last night I was brutally assaulted by police officers.  

I was in a cab headed to a friends house following the baseball game when an officer forcefully opened the cab door while it was stopped and asked me to step out.  I was questioned regarding activity that may happen on saturday.  I am not a protester, nor do I know any.  

I was soon surrounded by 15-20 RCMP and Toronto Police and placed in very tight handcuffs.  My wrists are extremely swollen today.  I was eventually charged under the Provincial Offences Act for being intoxicated in a public place - I had 4 beers and was in a cab on my way to a friends.  Passers by stopped and asked my if they could do anything, I could only think of the work help, but wish I had asked them to call my parents or a lawyer.  As soon as I started communicated with them I was placed into a police car.  I have never been in any sort of trouble in my life.

I was taken to 52 division and asked to answer a number of questions in front of a video camera.  I declined stating that I had not been read any rights or explained what I was being charged with.  I requested to speak with Duty Counsel.  At this point - 2 of the arresting officers from 11th division, along with one who I believe works at 52 division took me into a room away from the camera.  The two arresting officers held my while the one from 52 division beat the shit out of me, for not answering their questions and failing "the attitude test".  I have defences bruising all over my arms and welts and bruises on my body.  I was stripped naked and further beaten.  The officer from 52 division stated that he was going to rip my nipple ring out and pulled it, when one of the officers holding me said not to.  It was torture.  

I was placed in cell naked for about 4 hours.  I don't know why I had to be naked, I had nothing on me and a cellphone and cash in my pocket.  Eventually, one of the arresting officers came in and advised me some "people" where coming to speak to me - and I was allowed to put my underwear and shirt on.  The 2 people that came to speak to me would not identify themselves as officers nor provide me with their names.  I was asked to put on my clothes and follow them to a room similar to the one I was beat in.  Again, I had no information as to "Saturday's activities", was told that I smelt like booze and placed back in the cell.  I was allowed to keep my clothes this time.

I was not allowed to have a drink of water during the 10 hours that I was held, nor was advised of any of my rights, nor offered duty counsel when I requested.  My basic rights and freedoms, taken - stripped naked, assaulted and humiliated.

Situation is grave out there people... I am just a normal person, out at a baseball game having beers with friends.  These mounties and cops from other provinces are all out there scarred as shit and feeding on each other.  Be careful, stay safe..




To the Person Beaten by Toronto Cops

First, please take care of yourself! You have suffered a terrible, traumatizing assault by thugs and bullies with badges and weapons and the full force of the law to back them up. While this incident is still fresh in your mind, see a Doctor for a complete examination; get the Doc to make a complete report on your physical, emotional and mental state. Also, write down EVERYTHING you remember about this incident while it is fresh in your mind. Get a friend to take photos of any visible injuries. It is important to thoroughly document everything that has happened to you. Then find a lawyer that will agree to represent you in any action you take against the cops. Perhaps the folks above who have kindly offered to assist you might be able to help with this? There are already, no doubt, many progressive lawyers doing legal support for the G8/G20 protests; when the circus leaves town, maybe one of them will agree to represent you. Ironically, if you had been an activist (not that there is anything wrong with NOT being one), the outcome may very well have been different. While cops have been beating and murdering indigenous people, people of colour, marginalized people (homeless, drug addicts, skid row alcoholics, etc.) and poor people for many years, it is still relatively uncommon for white activists (especially those from the middle class) to be brutalized by the police. This is because such people have the connections and resources to fight back effectively. They often know supportive lawyers through their activism and have support networks which can be mobilized for actions (like demos outside the police station) on short notice. [This is not to say that taking on the police is easy for such people - taking on the cops is never easy, nor without risks - but it does give them a comparative advantage.] In Vancouver, a number of years ago, an anti-poverty activist was arrested for "obstruction" after coming to observe the cops harassing another man. Within a few hours, there were about 50-100 people blocking the road outside the cop shop, an eclectic group of anti-poverty activists, anarchists and locals from the Downtown Eastside (Canada's "poorest postal code"). We refused to leave until our friend and comrade was released. We were noisy and disruptive (at one point using a megaphone to emit screeching white noise in the cop's direction!). We finally left sometime after midnight after our friend was released while throwing aside traffic barriers saying "Don't fuck with the poor, pigs!" Later, our friend's lawyer told me that cops inside were "freaked out" by our presence! While this tactic may not work in all circumstances and localities, it is just one example of how people can fight back against the cops. If Toronto cops know that they can get away with beating to death an 18 year old youth of colour, that their fellow cops, superiors, the courts, media, politicians wanting to look "tough on crime" and a large segment of the general public will support them or look the other way, then they won't think twice about beating somebody in custody for "failing the attitude test". Cops operate from a "compliance-force" mindset, meaning that they fully expect their "orders" to be obeyed (whether such "orders" are legal is another matter entirely) and in most cases they are, either out of fear or deference to the cop's authority. Cops expect you to do as you're told (or to be "compliant" in their lingo). When people are "non-compliant" force is often used to make them "comply" or simply to teach them a lesson (a brilliant illustration of this was a Vancouver news report of a few year's ago: while cops were doing crowd control outside a building fire late one night, a cyclist was told that she could not pass through their lines. "But I just live over there", she protested while pointing out her apartment building. The cop pepper sprayed her point blank in the face saying "When a peace officer gives you an order, you obey it!"). Your report does not mention if you were charged with anything. Cops will often charge a person with "assaulting a peace officer" after giving them a beat down in order to cover their asses. Often, the Crown (Prosecution) will agree to drop the charges if the victim drops any civil action against the police. Most people, simply wanting the ordeal to end, will agree to this and the charges are dismissed (which were phony and trumped-up to begin with). One more thing: expect the cops to use the fact that you had been drinking against you (even though you were not actually "drunk"). They may claim that you were "drunk and belligerent" and that they had to "restrain" you. This is, again, very common. I wish you all the best in healing and recovering from this terrible ordeal.

Please contact us

Hi Toronto Brutality,

That is a horrible story. If you'd be interested in speaking to us some more, we'd like to speak with you at the Alternative Media Centre. You can reach us at



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