28 June 2010

Queen & Spadina

So in my post yesterday, I linked to a CTV article that talked about a "tense and bizarre standoff" between protesters and police at the intersection of Queen & Spadina streets in downtown Toronto.

This morning, there's a Canada National Post article on that same standoff, and I figured I'd link to it and c&p some chunks of it for y'all.

The detained group included protesters, several journalists, many pedestrians who just happened to be passing by and at least a couple of puppies.

The group was made to stand in the rain for well over three hours without food, water, access to bathrooms, rainwear or shelter.

Police did not issue a warning before corralling the group in a thin strip just north of the intersection and afterward refused to explain why they were being detained.

“Mass arrests are illegal,” Natalie DesRosiers, president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, said last night. “They are contrary to the presumption of innocence. They are arbitrary arrest. They should not be doing that. They know they should not be doing that.”

Police selected particular members of the crowd for arrest. At around 8 p.m., people began volunteering to be arrested. Later they actually began lining up to be cuffed so they could get out of the rain.

Eventually there were two large groups of people, one in cuffs, each person with an officer next to them; and a second in a large group hemmed in by dozens of officers in full riot gear. Most of the people were in shorts or pants and T-shirts and tank tops. Some could be seen on the television shivering as they were made to wait in the street.

“I’m freezing cold. We have no food, no water, no shelter and I’ve had to pee for the last five hours,” Sammy Katz, a man detained in the intersection, told CP24 by phone from inside the corral.


At a press conference on Sunday, Toronto Police Staff Sergeant Jeff McGuire refused to apologize for the incident.

“We had reasonable grounds to believe that a breach of the peace was going to occur,” he said. “We did the best we could. I’m not saying we’re perfect.”

Sgt. McGuire looked sheepish as he said officers had been working 16 and 18 hours straight over the weekend. “This is a very challenging time for our officers as well,” he said. “I hope the public can continue to support us.”

“I cannot apologize to them, and I won’t,” he added. “The officers had the right to detain them for that breach of the peace.”

At 9:40 p.m., every member of the group was unconditionally released on orders from Police Chief Bill Blair.

All y'all have a good day. Off to study, then off to class.

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