The photos of my arrest during the Toronto G20 summit show a small blond lady with purple stockings getting thrown around by police as I was tossed head-first into an unmarked van. These photos have appeared on the front page of the Toronto Star, in the New York Times, and in other newspapers. Footage of the arrest has appeared on CNN and other news outlets such as CBC. My name is Lacy MacAuley, and this is the story of my arrest, including my being violently assaulted, strangled, and punched while riding into the police station in the back of the van.
I arrived at the site of the peaceful jail solidarity rally, just outside the Prisoner Processing Center (PCC) at about 11:30 AM, Sunday, June 27, with two friends from Washington DC, organizer Robby Diesu and Geoff Millard of Iraq Veterans Against the War. I smiled as we walked up to the rally: There under a breathtaking blue sky, a young man was strumming an electric bass and leading a musical chant, "So so so, solidarity!" People were smiling and cheering as two people were released from jail (I understand at least two were released before I arrived), and I used my iPhone to send messages to Twitter about the cheerful rally, with photos attached.
I had come to Toronto from Washington DC to protest the G20 by helping to write about and photograph events that question and deconstruct the G20’s authority. The G20 is a government superstructure with even more power than any individual country, which has been pursuing corrupt bailout policies for banks, corporations and the International Monetary Fund, while allowing citizens to starve. Its “open market” or “free trade” policies only help to concentrate wealth in fewer and fewer hands, and allow corporations to destroy the environment, subjugate civil liberties, and strip away a country’s national sovereignty. The G20 is bad for most of us on earth, not to mention our children and grandchildren. I have a BA in International Relations with a minor in World Development Studies, but it doesn’t take special expertise to realize that something is fundamentally wrong with a tiny cartel of wealthy leaders who are taking money from corporations for funding running the way our civilization is designed. It is all of our duty to resist oppression and make the world a better place. That’s why I was in Toronto, and I did not damage anyone or anything while there.
I was standing in the crowd about fifteen feet from the bass player when suddenly, with no warning and no provocation, police charged into the crowd and tackled a young man near the front. Some in the crowd at the rally began screaming and running backwards, while many remained calm and shouted to the police to let the young man go. I began taking photos with my iPhone of the violent arrest.
Then I looked up to see the police charging for me, closing in from only about seven feet away. I knew that to resist arrest would be a serious offense, thanks to years of training in nonviolence, so I did not resist. The police then tackled me and pushed me to the ground. I was able to put my left arm down to buffer my fall onto the pavement. Then one uniformed officer grabbed me around the waist, pulling me back to the dark blue side of the police line and throwing me face-down on the pavement. As he threw me my arms were being twisted behind my back. I was able to angle my right shoulder toward the pavement so that I did not hit the pavement with my face. Apparently my friend Robby was attempting to run forward through the crowd to perform a heroic act that would save me, but was being restrained by my friend Geoff, who feared that Robby would wind up arrested himself if he did anything.
As this was happening, I was shouting in a voice that was firm and loud but not frantic, "You have to let me go. Please, you have to let me go. I've done nothing wrong." I had been focusing on holding onto my iPhone with a death grip because I knew that if I dropped it at this point, behind the police line, I might never see it again. Now, as I was laying face-down behind the line, my phone was aggressively pulled out of my hand. One officer kneeled on my head as hand cuffs were placed on me, leaning hard with all his weight on the left side of my head as my right cheek was driven into the pavement. The pain was immense and overwhelming. I told him to take his knee off my head. A second officer on the other side was also kneeling on my back.
As all of this was occurring, international and national press was taking photos and video, images which were broadcast across the globe.
At that point at least two officers yanked me up, including a thug, who may have been a plain-clothes officer, and was a black male wearing a black T-shirt with curvy print on it, about 6'3, perhaps 250 lbs. Photos of this man show a muscular, powerful frame. For the sake of this write-up, I will call this person "Thug A." I later learned that this thug or one of the other thugs may have been named Officer Antonie. Several other thugs, who may have been plain-clothes police, were present. One of them was a tall black man wearing plaid shorts and a white T-shirt, who also may have been a plain-clothes officer. For the sake of this write-up, I will call this person “Thug B.”
Please note that none of my attackers ever identified himself as a police officer. They were wearing plain clothes and were driving an unmarked vehicle that looked like a standard soccer-mom minivan. I have no qualms calling my attackers thugs. They never gave me any indication that they were anything but thugs.
I was yanked in an aggressive fashion toward a blue unmarked van. The door was open and the middle seat of the van was folded down. Thug B climbed into the back of the vehicle just before I was flung toward the open door. As I was tossed toward the open door of the vehicle, my right knee hit something which I believe was the edge of the van (the metal lip of the door step). I was pulled into the vehicle, with Thug A roughly pulling my legs into the vehicle.
As I was pulled into the van, another thug, who may have been a plain-clothes officer, was sitting in the driver’s seat of the van. For the sake of this write-up, I will call the person sitting in the driver’s seat “Thug C.” While I was being pulled into the vehicle, Thug C reached back with his right hand and took hold of my neck. Thug C was white with brown hair and a beard and was wearing a black T-shirt and black baseball cap.
As the van began moving and the door to the van closed, the two thugs in the back seat pulled me around so that I was laying face up with my head almost in between the passenger and driver seat. As they were doing so, Thug A was punching me in the stomach, just hard enough to shock someone who is delicate but not hard enough to harm me. As they punched me and turned me over, they said statements such as “stop struggling,” and “stop punching.” (Again, my hands were cuffed.) I immediately realized that they may be making such completely erroneous statements because we were being recorded, and I loudly stated “I’m not struggling,” and/or “I am not resisting arrest.”
Thug A sat on top of me over my pelvic area. My handcuffs were digging into my wrists. My only goal was to live through the experience without losing my humanity, my spirit, or my presence of mind, to find out where I was being taken, and to find out as much as I could about these thugs, whether they were officers or some sort of private contractors, i.e. paramilitary groups.
Thug B then squeezed my throat with his right hand, digging his thumb deeply into my carotid artery area, on the right side of my throat. He held this for perhaps ten seconds, as Thug A stepped on me, re-adjusting himself overtop of me. I almost passed out at that point as the carotid artery is the chief artery that supplies blood to the brain. At some point during or before this strangulation, I wet myself. Urine seeped into and through my clothing. Darkness almost overtook me, but I held on and I did not lose consciousness.
During this whole time the thugs were calling me names such as: “cunt,” “bitch,” “whore,” and “street trash.” A constant barrage of their statements were phrases such as “Look at this street whore.” In addition, Thug A was making statements such as, “So you think you can smash up Toronto? Think again, you dirty bitch.”
When I did not lose consciousness from choking, Thug B punched the right side of my head with his left fist. This was done at least once, and may have been repeated. I did not lose consciousness, but I began telling them, “I am a good person. I don’t know why you are doing this to me. I did not harm anything or anyone.”
As I was saying this, Thug A, who had been sitting on top of me, began patting around my skirt. “Why is she wet?” he yelled. Thug B replied that I had “pissed” on myself. Thug A then expressed disgust and began calling me horrible names, and deriding me for “pissing on him.” He stopped sitting on my pelvic area and moved further down my legs.
During a large part of this assault, Thug C was reaching back from the driver’s seat and pulling my hair very hard, harder than it has ever been pulled. A man in a turquoise-colored shirt was sitting in the passenger seat of the van. For the sake of this write-up, I will call this person “Thug D.”
I may be small but I am not weak, and I remained present of mind. I was focused on reminding myself that my attackers were human beings who had made perhaps an entire life’s worth of bad choices that led them to this point. All of my attackers were likely abused in some way as children, and had likely made choices born of fear. I, on the other hand, am making choices born of love to protect and serve future generations by giving voice to those who question the G20, its polices, and its dominant malevolent philosophies. It is my good choices which brought me here, protesting the G20 even at the expense of my personal safety, because protesting oppression is the right thing to do. It was poor choices, likely born of the disempowered notion that one has to “just do their job,” even if it is something malevolent and wrong, that led my attackers to that point in time. There are better choices out there, and I never bar the potential that people can and do change. I drew upon the fact that there were so many others just outside and inside the jail who believe that love should guide our actions, not fear, and the strength of my people carried my hope.
They roughly turned me over face down. We were quite obviously taking the short ride around the block to the entrance to the jai. At some point before we reached the building, the thugs stopped the car in an area that appeared to be a parking lot. Both thugs in the back seat got out. I tried to turn my head to the right to see what Thug A was doing, but Thug A took his fist and brandished it about an inch from my face, saying, “Keep your head down. If you move, this goes into your nose.” I kept my face down toward the gray van carpet.
Thug A got back into the vehicle, but Thugs B and D must have left. Thug B was still driving. I remained where I was and asked where they were taking me. Thug A said, “We haven’t driven very far. Where do you think, you dumb bitch?” Thug A continued verbally insulting me as the van pulled into the PCC.
As I the doors opened to the vehicle, many other uniformed officers were visible in the giant prisoner intake room. I began loudly orating that I had just been assaulted. The uniformed officer who had initially grabbed me, whose face was with mine on all the front pages of the Toronto Star on Monday, June 28, came and sat in the front seat. He asked Thug A who the arresting officers were, asking “me and you?” I gave them a moment to agree on who the arresting officers were, and demanded to know their names and badge numbers. Thug A said, “My badge number will be on the paperwork.” I demanded perhaps five more times of both of them, but neither one would tell me.
There were several senior-looking uniformed police officers standing nearby, and I proceeded to orate about how these officers had assaulted me, and that there were some bad, bad police officers working in this department, and that this officer here was one of them. Thug A only complained to the officers that I had “pissed” on him. He asked whether I had “any diseases that he had to worry about.” Regardless of the arrogant tone of his question, I thought it was a fair question, and I answered him that I didn’t have any diseases I was aware of. I asked him whether he had children, and whether he would like it if they were mistreated for simply taking a photo at a demonstration. I told him that he was a very bad person, and repeated that I am a good person, I’ve done nothing wrong, and I have harmed nothing and nobody.
They can choke me and beat me. They can break my bones. But they will never break my will or my spirit. All of us who are put into police custody must remember that theirs is an illegitimate source of power, but that we draw our power from Mother Earth and from the love in our hearts, which is a stronger power that will overcome their guns and their fear.
The human rights abuses did not end when I reached the jail. I joined 900 of my fellow activists in confinement that everyone regarded as unjust. I thought of my friends Robby and Geoff on the outside. Would they know how to find me? What I didn’t know is that a friend of mine from Washington DC who is an AP reporter had already seen the first photos of my arrest, and by 12:20 PM had already notified my colleague Sarah Massey in DC. Sarah contacted friends and family and spread the word of my arrest in Toronto. Within an hour after my arrest, the people I love were ready to come to my aid. How long would it take for them to be able to spring me from jail?
The metal handcuffs had been taken off, and plastic zip-tie handcuffs were placed on me. I was booked in Stage 1 processing at the PCC at about 12:30 PM. The cell was a cold, cement bloc. I had orated so loudly about what had just happened to me that almost everyone in the large intake room could hear me. The court officer attending to my cell came over to provide me with toilet paper so that I could clean up. After a short time, many other women came into the cell with me, almost 15. There was very little water being offered.
I was processed to Stage 2, which involved talking to a processing officer about my charges.
I was completely shocked to hear that my charge was “assault of a police officer.” I made sure everyone knew that it was I who was assaulted, and exactly how I was assaulted. I made sure to note my exact injuries. It was at that time I was able to glance down at my paperwork and notice that one of my two arresting officers was “Officer Antonie.”
After I spoke to the initial intake person who made sure I was aware of my charges, they brought me to a separate room for an illegal strip search. The female officers who were processing me illegally strip-searched me and made me take off all of my clothing and without even allowing me to clean myself up first from having wet myself while being choked. They were however able to give me new pants to wear, which was handy.
I asked them if I could be brought to the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to get my bruises, etc, looked at. They complied and brought me straight from Stage 2 processing to the EMS. EMS personnel documented my injuries, which included: a gash on the right knee which made it painful to bend my knee all the way; a sore neck from being choked, especially where Thug B had driven his thumb into my artery; a tender spot on the side of my head, near my right ear, from being punched; welts on my right shoulder and arm from being tossed onto the pavement; and scratches on my back and right shoulder blade from being dragged along the pavement.
I denied pain medication because I wanted to be sure that I remained present of mind throughout the remainder of my processing. I did take an ice pack for my knee and extra water, because I feared that I would not get any more from any of the police.
I was put into a holding cell with women who had been arrested the previous night at the Novatel Hotel, none of whom had yet been permitted to see a lawyer or make a phone call. The cell was in the Stage 3 processing area, and was the exact same as the other cells, with cold concrete floors, one metal bench.
A few hours went by and we were given cheese sandwiches. The calorie provision of such a sandwich is very low, perhaps 400 calories at the most. It leaves a person quite hungry.
Needless to say, rounding up peaceful protestors, denying them basic fundamentals of humanity such as food and water, and denying them any contact with the outside world, is usually something that you hear of oppressive regimes doing, not a friendly, rich country like Canada.
I was the first one who was brought anywhere beyond that cell. Officers were wandering around looking for prisoners who they had “lost” in the system. They were wandering, wandering, and asking for the same person over and over.
I was called to speak with a detective, Detective F. Skubic. I was told again that my charges were “assault of a police officer.” I told the detective that this was 200 percent incorrect, that I had been assaulted. The detective responded with indifference, and referred me to the complaints process for complaining about an officer.
I told him that I believe that the details of my assault are a material part of my defense in proving that I did not assault a police officer. I told him that I wanted to make a video statement about what happened to me. He said, sure, I could make a video statement, but first, I should talk to a lawyer. Also, he said, because I am a US citizen, I should call my consulate. The detective gave me the phone number for the US consulate, a paper about applying for legal aid as an Ontarian (which doesn’t apply to me), and a “Notice to Accused Persons Appearing in Toronto Courts” (which was also given to me upon my release).
I was brought straight out to call my consulate. The consulate was not very helpful. I told her about my assault. The only thing that the consulate representative, Jennifer, did was take down my name, home address, and phone number. She was astounded that I did not have a phone number that I could currently be reached at. At that point I had not seen a lawyer and I was not aware that I would need to go through a long process of posting bail, or I would have asked that she call my parents in Washington DC about posting bail, and look up a few phone numbers for me in order to make arrangements. But I was still hopeful that I would be simply released without any charges. Why? Because it’s simply preposterous that I had assaulted the four burly thugs/officers in the van, and I knew that I had not assaulted anyone. It is against my personal ethics to harm another human being.
I was brought into the cell for just a moment and brought out again to talk to the duty counsel, or court-appointed lawyer. When I walked in, the lawyer instantly recognized me and said, “You’ve been all over the news.” She said that she had seen me on CBC getting thrown into the van. She told me of the proper procedure, and called the G8/G20 Toronto Community Mobilization number for me. The TCM simply logged my name and case, and had a brief discussion with the duty counsel about whether I could pay bail, but we did not begin to work out details regarding my bail.
It is worth noting that, as I went in and out of my cell, I saw a girl who was 17 years old. She was in a cell alone, unable to see anyone but police and prisoners walking back and forth. As I walked by her again and again, I smiled at her to offer her a little comfort, because she looked very distraught. The last time that I walked by her she was crying. Not long after that, another cellmate was walked back to the cell after visiting the EMS to get her prescription medication. She said the girl was still crying. We talked to the court officer, who was walking back and forth, to ask that the girl be put in the cell with us so that we could offer her a friendly voice to talk to and people to support her. However, the court officer insisted that we remain separate for the underage girl’s “safety.”
I was never, never allowed to make my one phone call in the time that I was detained. I was able to exercise my right to call the US Consulate, but if I had been allowed to make my one phone call I would have been able to arrange for bail. That did not happen.
Finally, at some point later in the evening, I was brought back to the detective’s office. I had told Detective Skubic earlier that day that I wished to make a statement on camera about my assault that would be entered into my case file. I was met by Detective S. Pryer, Badge #3065, an older man with graying hair and a small paunch on the midriff. Detective Pryer sat me down and said that I had wished to make a statement. I told him that Detective Skubic had said he would take my statement, yes. At that point Detective Pryer took out his phone and called Detective Skubic. The voice on the other end was loud enough for me to hear: “I don’t really know if it’s necessary. It’s obvious she’s an activist.”
Obvious that I’m an activist? I thought. This is the kind of treatment that Nazi Germany gave activists. Just because I am politically active and publicly critical of various economic policies, to include the G20’s policies, corporate culture, and polluters, does not mean that I should be discriminated against in a criminal investigation by the very detectives who are collecting evidence in that investigation. I was astounded.
Detective Pryer got off the phone and told me that he could take my statement right now. I asked him why I was not being allowed to make a statement about my assault on video tape. He said that they weren’t taking video at that time, and that I could submit a complaint about the officers who assaulted me. The complaint, as I had learned, is an internal police department process which allows the police department to simply give the officers a slap on the wrist, if they do anything at all. I want to be sure that I am submitting something in a court of law. Of course, a detective who works for the police department is going to try to bar me from letting me bring information about my assault into a court of law, so I was being denied my statement.
I gave my statement verbally to Detective Pryer, with all of the details about my assault. He took notes and said that his notes could be subpoenaed by my attorney to be used in court. I made sure that he wrote down the more potent elements of my assault, such as the choking and being hit in the head. It was clear to me that Detective Pryer has lost his way ethically, and I do hope that he does not destroy his notes or something else.
Not long after that, I was brought out to Stage 4 processing. I was “live scanned,” meaning my fingerprints were taken using a special machine that was on loan from another agency, according to the officer taking my fingerprints. I answered another round of questions including my name, age, height, weight, etc. Then they put me into solitary confinement. All I could see were the police officers who walked back and forth.
While in solitary confinement, I took the opportunity to meditate. I sat down and went deep within myself, feeling the depths of my spirit like the warm center of the earth. I sang some of my favorite meditative songs: “Let the beauty you love be what you do, there are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground,” a Rumi quote, and the love-imparting song that I like to sing to the people (and plants and animals) that I love: “You are a thing of beauty. You are a child of earth. You’re made of sacred starlight. Don’t forget how much you’re worth.” At this point, I broke into tears of appreciation. Getting your freedom taken away from you makes you appreciate just how bountiful and abundant the universe is! It is truly a blessed world that we are all living in, if we just open up our hearts and minds enough to feel it. Oppressive institutions like the G20 and the police don’t want you to know your own strength, but we all draw from a deep, flowing well of power and beauty, if we will only have the strength to drink the potency of the beauty all around us.
After meditating I was feeling wonderful, but I was also developing a headache. This prompted me to wonder if perhaps I was actually experiencing a concussion due to being hit in the side of the head. (One of the symptoms of a concussion is hallucinations. Another is an actual headache.) I told the court officer that I was worried that I was in danger of having a concussion. I also was having increased pain in my neck on the right side, and it was swelling larger and larger. At length, I flagged down the court officer and went back to EMS to talk to them about these symptoms. The wonderful EMS personnel took note of my symptoms, and said that I did not contain one of the more important signs of a concussion: An elevated heart rate. Thank the gods! They took note of my other symptoms, and gave me some Tylenol for the headache, and a lot more water. Then it was back to my cell.
I spent a long, sleepless night in the cell. I was unable to sleep at all on the freezing cold of the cement floor, and was forced to sleep on the floor on the corner of the porto-john (after inspecting it and wiping it down thoroughly with most of the toilet paper available to me), which was made of plastic and slightly more insulating.
It is a ludicrously dehumanizing act to force human beings to sleep in a porto-john just to keep warm. If they were going to arrest so many people, how could they not have had sweatshirts and T-shirts for people? I think their excuse will be negligence. However, ensuring that people are warm is a basic function of caring for prisoners. I don’t buy the notion that it was accidental. I believe that they purposely did not give us enough warmth, to try to quell our enthusiasm and our spirits.
In the morning, I was in the very first wagon of people transported to the courthouse at 2201 Finch Street in Toronto, in a vehicle with one other woman who was arrested at the jail solidarity rally like I was. I arrived at the courthouse at 9:30 AM and was given yet another cheese sandwich for breakfast. I then was taken to see my duty counsel, Susan. I gave Susan a lot of information about my case, including my parents’ phone number to ask them about coming up with bail money. I gave Susan the address of John Valleau, with whom I was staying in Toronto, so that they could work out the details.
The woman I had been transported with had a very attentive duty counsel, and contacted the woman’s family members right away. At some point at about 5:00 PM, she was released!
I waited all day in that jail, meeting the other amazing women who were also imprisoned for no good reason. As the day wore on, I wondered why, why, why I was being left to rot in a jail cell while the court was open. It became obvious to all of us that the court was not seeing many cases. The officers were doing way too much standing around and chit-chatting, and not actually working. At one point they were all sharing popsicles, and then poutine. One of the groups of officers, who had also been working at the PCC, actually chatted with the women in our cell for about half an hour. Why weren’t they working?
Two cheese sandwiches later, at about 6 PM, I was finally brought to the courtroom. I met with a duty counsel, whose name I do not remember. He was unaware of the fact that I had met with the duty counsel Susan earlier in the day. I gave him the phone number of my parents and the address of John Valleau again. I learned from the judge that the bail was $1500. I know that it is steep, but I thought my parents would be willing to pay it. It had to be high, according to the counsel, because I am a US person and pose a flight risk. They had to find a way to get this money to the courtroom. I was confident that if my parents only got in touch with folks on the ground in Toronto, they could work out the details. Again, I had not gotten my phone call so I couldn’t work out these details myself.
I did not know it at the time, but Susan had, in fact, contacted my parents. They hadn’t known the bail amount but had indicated a willingness to pay it. In the meantime my friends Robby and Geoff had gotten in touch with my parents through Facebook, and had been camped outside the jail, and then the courtroom. The actual bail amount had not been set until 6 PM. Starting as soon as they received word from my parents, Robby and Geoff had been driving their rental van around Toronto searching for an open Western Union center so that my parents could transfer the $1,500 in funds. Due to the lateness of the bail being set, they were having extreme difficulty making the transfer happen.
At about 8:30 PM, I was brought back to the court. I had a new duty counsel, who said that he was aware that my parents and parties in Toronto were trying to make arrangements for getting bail paid. He said that he would try to call the parties again to see what arrangements could be made. The judge indicated that they would wait and hold my case and give my parents and parties involved more time tonight to work out the situation, and genuinely seemed that she wanted me to get out tonight. I was very hopeful that I might be out that night!
I went back to my cell and waited on egg shells. Prisoners were being rushed in and out of their cells. After a day of lounging police at the jail, the police were actually working, and so were the courts. Finally, at about 11:00 PM, I was called back into the courtroom. The judge was looking very weary, as was the courtroom staff.
The judge indicated that she and other courtrooms had been waiting fairly idle for the early part of the day, while police had not rounded up prisoners and gotten organized enough to actually allow the courtrooms to hear cases. She indicated that they would get rolling at 9 AM sharp, and gave me an appointment to appear at 9 AM sharp, as well as another woman, Rachel, who was on a similar track as I was in that moment. She closed the cases for the evening.
We went back to our cells. It was now almost midnight, but we got word from the court police that we would be transferred to another facility, either back to the PCC or to a new facility, the Vanier womens prison. After a chat with my cellmates, I fell asleep on the freezing cold concrete bench.
When I awoke many of my cellmates were being transferred out of our cell. I wasn’t sure whether they were going, and neither were they. Three of us were left in this cell in the almost-empty jail. It had turned so cold that we huddled for warmth, and then went back to sleep on the cold concrete.
It was about 2:30 AM or 3:00 AM in the morning when the remaining prisoners from the courtroom were rounded up and put on a wagon. After a very chilly 30-minute drive, we arrived at Vanier, in Milton, Ontario. We were thrown into exactly the same type of cell that we had had before. Over the course of the next hour or hour and a half, we were processed.
Processing at Vanier involved odd questions nestled in with simple ones such as “What is your eye color?” I was grilled about whether I had ever attempted suicide and whether I would attempt it here at the facility. (I have not and would never do such a thing. A moment long enough just to hear a sparrow’s song is worth living for!) I was then subjected to an illegal strip search again, and given new spiffy green sweats, which were quite a bit warmer than anything anyone had been wearing, and a pair of sneakers.
By the time this was all said and done, it was about 4:30 AM. We had a few brief moments to get a little bit of sleep, again on cold concrete. I did so. We were awoken at about 7:00 AM, shuffled into the next room, and given breakfast. This was much better food: Cereal, milk, juice, and two pieces of bread or a bagel with jam. We also had instant coffee packets. I had been so caffeine deprived that I quickly made a shoddy caffeine mixture with the coffee packet and the milk packet.
Then 20 women were taken for the transport, not including me or Rachel. This was frustrating as our court appearance time was 9:00 AM sharp. I asked the driver of the transport when the next one would return. He said that they would return with exactly the same wagon, which could take up to an hour and half. By this time it was just after 7:30 AM. I told the driver that my court appearance was at 9:00 AM, and he said that it would be fine to go a bit later. Again, I was very frustrated, but I thanked him for the information. Couldn’t they find a second police wagon to accommodate us and the court’s schedule?
At about 10:00 AM, the transport got back. The remaining prisoners, including me, were brought to the prison and put in a cell.
At about 12:00 PM, Rachel and I were brought into the courtroom. Each of us had new counsel. Someone in the audience who looked like an activist darted out of the courtroom. I was the first case up. The counsel told me that the money had been secured and that, again, people in Toronto were attempting to get that money to the courthouse. This was the same story as last night, but I was still optimistic. While my case was being heard, Amy Miller, the close friend of Rachel, had quickly entered the courtroom. Activists were going from room to room, silently notifying each other of which courtroom their friends and family members were in.
The judge moved onto Rachel’s case. As her case was heard, I saw two people enter the courtroom out of the corner of my eye. I looked over to see none other than my friends Robby and Geoff. My heart leapt out of my chest, and tears came to my eyes as we waved hello. I was reminded by the police escorts sitting next to me that if we spoke with members of the audience, we would be thrown out of court.
Rachel’s case was heard. She also is being held on a ridiculous charge that she is resolutely not guilty of. She was able to voice that neither she nor I had received a phone call. She was given the opportunity to be released on cash bail of $500.
The court turned back to me. My counsel had not noticed Robby or Geoff, and did not know that they were attached to me. Neither Robby nor Geoff had had a way to find my counsel prior to this moment, either, and they were not permitted to speak to her in court. My counsel began to state the familiar refrain, “Well, it would seem that we’re still waiting on Ms. MacAuley’s bail money to find its way to the court…”
The judge began to point out to the counsel that there may be a few people in the courtroom who may know me.
I was not allowed to speak out in court to anyone but my counsel, so how could I facilitate the communication that needed to happen? I called my counsel over to the little slit in the window to speak. In a voice that was loud enough for everyone in the room to hear, I said:
“I just wanted to point you to two people in the audience who I believe may be willing to assist me in getting bail money to the courthouse –“
As I said this, Robby smiled and held up an envelope. Robby and Geoff the superheroes!
“In fact,” I told my counsel, smiling, “I believe they have my bail money right now!”
My case was heard. Apparently I am charged with “assault of a police officer” that allegedly occurred on Sunday, June 27, just prior to my assault and arrest. The evidence will show that this is not the case. Strangely, the case against me mentions my Twitter page, which contains updates from Saturday’s march, including broken windows and burning police cars. Again, I have not harmed anything or anyone. The charge could not be more false.
I was released on bail. So was Rachel. We were brought back to our cell.
The clerks still had to type up our release papers. It was several hours and one cheese sandwich before that was done. Finally officers came to get us, and walked us outside.
When I was released, the sunlight was absolutely incredible and soul-cleansing. Hugging Robby and Geoff was like hugging angels.
We still had to drive all the way to Milton, Ontario, back to the Vanier prison to get my possessions, which was difficult in rush-hour traffic. They were all there, except for my iPhone. My iPhone may have been held as evidence against me. I have not been able to reach the Toronto Police Department to determine if they have it in their possession.
This experience has taught me this: Our wills are stronger than their guns, their bars, or their handcuffs. The inhumane jailing of 900 persons only helps build the movement that will overtake them and dismantle their systems of oppression, so that the people can build a better world.