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Report From the Pigpen

This Is What Democracy Looks Like

by anonymous


Two people were arrested yesterday while dispersing from a protest. One was held for seven hours at the temporary holding centre which has been set up in a film studio specifically for protesters of the G20.

For folks who are part of the resistance movements converging in Toronto this week, and in the spirit of fighting fear of the unknown, and because part of counter intelligence is knowing as much about them as they think they know about us, here's what that experience looked like from the inside.

Fuck the pigs. Fight for freedom.

The pigpen is a temporary holding centre which has been set up inside a large film studio in a low income/industrial area of east end Toronto, just east of the Don Valley Parkway. From the outside, it looks like several fenced in blocks. There is one entrance and one exit.

If you're taking the subway, the closest stations are on the east side of the Yonge line, then you would take a bus or streetcar east to Pape or Carlaw, then walk down to Eastern Avenue.  

The closest intersection to the holding centre is Eastern Avenue and Carlaw. One block north of the pigpen is Queen Street, and there are a number of small cafes, bars, etc. where people doing jail support could hang out while waiting or use a washroom.

You will be taken inside the fence and through a big door into a receiving bay by the pigs who arrested you. At that point, you will be handed off to court pigs. There are at least a few hundred staffing the holding centre and at any point in time, you will be flanked by at least four. They will try and intimidate you with their large numbers, since there are a lot of them, they are bored as fuck and they have nothing else to do.

There are three holding areas. The first one is a trailer where they will tag you, take your picture, and search all your property and put it into a bag. They will assign you a number that corresponds with your belongings, and a specific court cop will be assigned to you. The staff sargeant is there and  will talk to you. Everything in this trailer is on camera. You will be designated as either a Level 2 or Level 3. Level 2 is catch and release. Level 3 means you will be held for a bail or show cause hearing the next morning.  

From there, you will be brought to the second holding area, which is a small, plywood 8X8 foot cell and they may strip search you.

Then, you will be moved to the third holding area, which is in a large room with many cells. In the front area are 16X8 foot cells and in the back are smaller cells. There are rows of five or six cells. Three sides are made from sheet metal, and one side is made from badly welded wire fencing. There is a two inch gap between the floor and the sheet metal walls. From inside the cell, you will be able to see through the front fence. The walls are approximately eight feet high.  

All this will have taken a minimum of two hours. At this point, they will take you to an area with Bell phone booths and they will let you use the phone but will dial the number themselves. It is not private, they can hear what you say.

After you have made your phone call, they will take you back to the third holding area. You will probably sit there for a while. A lot of people will be thinking about you and wishing you well, and having contacted someone from the outside, they will be relieved to know where you are and how you’re doing. Keep your spirits up.

Across from the area with the phones are a number of interrogation rooms where they will attempt to gather intelligence about our movements, our lives and our loved ones. They will lie to you. Don’t believe them. They will ask you all kinds of questions. Do not give them any information. The interrogation rooms are small, and there will be a table and chairs. The questioning in this case lasted for forty five minutes.

After questioning, they will either release you if you are a Level 2 or you may go back to the third holding area, if you are a Level 3. If you are released at this point, the pigs will take you out of the building and out to the exit, where you will be released.


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dru (Dru Oja Jay)
Member since January 2008


Writer, organizer, Media Co-op co-founder. Co-author of Paved with Good Intentions and Offsetting Resistance.

769 words



Interesting.  Thanks for that account.  I think it will help people to know what to expect, especially if they have never been arrested at a demonstration.

I wonder how many people will be put in each 16x8 cell? 

Those under 18 will probably get seperated from the rest into smaller that`s standard but not always the case if they don`t have the facilities for it.

Do they have toilets in the cells?

Seems like it could be a very loud space if they fill it up...

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