G20 Police Report: Toronto Police Violated Civil Rights, Used Excessive Force

CP  |  By Posted: Updated: 05/18/2012 8:09 am

TORONTO - Police violated civil rights, detained people illegally and used excessive force during the G20 summit two years ago, a new report concludes, but some caught up in the police operation said there was still no real accountability for their mistreatment.

The report by Ontario's independent police watchdog also blasts the temporary detention centre set up by Toronto police for its poor planning, design and operation that saw people detained illegally.

The Office of the Independent Police Review Director found police breached several constitutional rights during the tumultuous event, in which more than 1,100 people were arrested, most to be released without charge.

"Some police officers ignored basic rights citizens have under the charter and overstepped their authority when they stopped and searched people arbitrarily and without legal justification," the review states.

The 300-page detailed look at the events that weekend finds that protesters were not the only ones who resorted to violence.

"Numerous police officers used excessive force when arresting individuals, and seemed to send a message that violence would be met with violence," the report states.

"The reaction created a cycle of escalating responses from both sides."

The report takes aim at police tactics at the provincial legislature, which had been set up in advance as a protest zone. The force used for crowd control and in making arrests was "in some cases excessive."

"It is fair to say the level of force used in controlling the crowds and making arrests at Queen's Park was higher than anything the general public had witnessed before in Toronto."

It also concludes mass arrests outside a downtown hotel were "unlawful," and a dawn raid and arrest of people at a university residence was done without the required warrants.

The office, under director Gerry McNeilly, slams police for "kettling" scores of people — many passersby — at a downtown intersection for several hours in a severe thunderstorm, calling it "unreasonable, unnecessary and unlawful."

Even officers in place thought the situation untenable, with one describing the incident commander as "maniacal," the report says.

"Where are they going to give them a chance to disperse?" one officer asked.

"They aren't, that's the problem," another replied.

"Well, that's stupid."

In regard to the temporary detention centre, the report criticizes senior officers for failing to address problems.

Among complaints were overcrowding, lack of food and water or access to lawyers, the use of flex cuffs and strip searches. Detainees had to use toilets in full view of others and many were held illegally.

Among those were Tommy Taylor, who spent almost 24 hours in handcuffs, and his girlfriend, who had her bra seized as a possible weapon.

An emotional Taylor said he's still looking for justice and accountability.

"The leadership of that weekend — there are people who do not deserve to have their jobs any more," said Taylor, who was "scooped up" off the sidewalk, even though he wasn't part of the protest.

"Everyone keeps passing the buck."

Taylor said Canadians are good at telling others about civil rights and how to treat protesters.

"We get in other countries' faces about that," he said. "When it happens here, we're trying to sweep it under the carpet."

Because of shoddy paperwork, McNeilly said it was impossible to know exactly how many people were arrested over the summit weekend — the largest mass arrest in Canadian history.

The report makes 42 recommendations.

Among them, it urges that police be legally obliged to disclose potential evidence of officer wrongdoing.

"Senior officers especially should not condone or distance themselves from the misconduct of subordinates or colleagues."

It also urges governments to provide enough time for planning and preparing large-scale security operations, both of which were sorely lacking.

"The operational planning committee should be faulted for the decision that it would be 'business as usual.'"

In all, the report slams Toronto police — who had the lead in keeping order outside the summit security zone and ran the detention centre — for poor planning and serious gaps in communications.

The incident command centre, set up for overall police control, had "no idea" how many officers were working. Police failed to give proper directions to disperse, leading to confrontations.

It also faults the incident commander for referring to the crowds at one point as "marauding terrorists" as he followed instructions from the city's now-retired deputy police chief to "take back the streets."

In response, Toronto police Chief Bill Blair was adamant he would offer no apologies — despite a personal plea from Taylor to do so — but said officers of all ranks would be held accountable for any proven wrongdoing.

About two dozen complaints forwarded by McNeilly would likely go to a police tribunal hearing, Blair said, adding most of the 19,000 officers on the streets that weekend acted "appropriately."

McNeilly's findings follow a report this week by the RCMP complaints commissioner that the Mounties had by and large acted reasonably.

The June 2010 summit was marred by vandals who smashed windows and set police cruisers on fire as well as by mass arrests, including those of innocent bystanders.

McNeilly said his arm's-length civilian agency received 356 complaints. The agency deemed 107 of them substantiated — 96 were "serious."

Numerous individuals and groups, including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, have lambasted police for riding roughshod over people's rights.

The association called on the Ontario government and police services to implement McNeilly's recommendations, issue an "unconditional" apology, and take disciplinary or criminal action against officers implicated in misconduct.

"Given the severity of the rights violations that occurred on the G20 weekend, full political and police accountability is vital to rebuilding public trust in law enforcement and democratic institutions," the association said.

Several civil suits alleging police brutality and rights violations have been launched against Toronto police and other agencies.

Earlier this year, McNeilly recommended charges against five police officers for the beating of G20 protester Adam Nobody at the legislature.

Earlier on HuffPost:

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  • Demonstrators Protest The G20 Summit

    TORONTO, ON - JUNE 26: Demonstrators protest against the G8/G20 summits June 26, 2010 in Toronto, Canada. Store windows were smashed and a police car set on fire during the protest which was one of several planned in the city to coincide with the gathering of world leaders for the G20 and G8 summits being held in Toronto and nearby Muskoka June 25-27. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Demonstrators Protest The G20 Summit

    TORONTO, ON - JUNE 26: A couple kiss in front of the police line during a protest against the G20 summit June 26, 2010 in Toronto, Canada. The kiss was interupted as police charged protestors. Earlier in the day store windows were smashed and a police car was set on fire during the protest which was one of several planned in the city to coincide with the gathering of world leaders for the G20 and G8 summits being held in Toronto and nearby Muskoka June 25-27. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Demonstrators Protest The G20 Summit

    TORONTO, ON - JUNE 26: A young anti-G20 protester carries her message on her chest as other demonstrators smash and loot their way through downtown June 26, 2010 in Toronto, Canada. Violent protesters burned police cars, smashed shop fronts and confronted the force of approximately 20,000 police who were charged with keeping order during the first day of the G20 Summit. (Photo by Simon Hayter/Getty Images)

  • Demonstrators Protest The G20 Summit

    TORONTO, ON - JUNE 27: Police officers chase demonstrators during the G20 summits June 27, 2010 in Toronto, Canada. Police have been making many arrests during the protests including many journalists during this final day of the G20 summit. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Demonstrators Protest The G20 Summit

    Protesters smash police vehicles in the Toronto's downtown core June 26, 2010 after a small group of anarchists broke from the main anti G20 demonstration and began a destructive march through the downtown. Ten thousand people marched against the G20 summit Saturday to protest for jobs and social causes, in a largely peacefully rally that saw nevertheless saw outbreaks of violence on its fringes. While the main body of the march was a well-marshaled event, led by older activists and organized labor, small groups of young hardliners scuffled with riot officers and set fire to at least two patrol cars. AFP PHOTO / GEOFF ROBINS (Photo credit should read GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Demonstrators Protest The G20 Summit

    TORONTO, ON - JUNE 26: Violent anti-G20 protesters, using Black Bloc tactics, jump on a police car downtown June 26, 2010 in Toronto, Canada. Violent protesters burned police cars, smashed shop fronts and confronted the force of approximately 20,000 police who were charged with keeping order during the first day of the G20 Summit. (Photo by Simon Hayter/Getty Images)

  • Demonstrators Protest The G20 Summit

    TORONTO, ON - JUNE 26: A police car burns after violent anti-G20 protesters, using Black Bloc tactics, smashed their way through downtown streets June 26, 2010 in Toronto, Canada. Violent protesters burned police cars, smashed shop fronts and confronted the force of approximately 20,000 police who were charged with keeping order during the first day of the G20 Summit. (Photo by Simon Hayter/Getty Images)

  • Demonstrators Protest The G20 Summit

    TORONTO - JUNE 25: A demonstrator drops his pants, taunting police in riot gear during a march near the campus of the University of Toronto on the eve of the G20 Summit June 25, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The protests come amid heavy police presence as G8 world leaders met today, with G20 finance ministers meeting tomorrow. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

  • Demonstrators Protest The G20 Summit

    TORONTO, ON - JUNE 27: Toronto police officers step aside to allow a street car operator to move a street car out of the protest zone as police prepared to face protestors during a protest at the corner of Queen street and Spidina avenue on June 27, 2010 in Toronto, Canada. Hundreds of people, including journalists, were arrested by police in downtown Toronto during the G20 Summit and many were released prior to the 24-hour limit at which time they had to be charged with a crime. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

  • Demonstrators Protest The G20 Summit

    TORONTO, ON - JUNE 27: Protestors face off with Toronto police officers during a protest at the corner of Queen street and Spidina avenue on June 27, 2010 in Toronto, Canada. Hundreds of people, including journalists, were arrested by police in downtown Toronto during the G20 Summit and many were released prior to the 24-hour limit at which time they had to be charged with a crime. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

  • Demonstrators Protest The G20 Summit

    TORONTO, ON - JUNE 27: A man arrested during protests at the G8/G20 summits is released from a detention center June 27, 2010 in Toronto, Canada. Police have been making many arrests during the protests including many journalists during this final day of the G20 summit. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Demonstrators Protest The G20 Summit

    TORONTO, ON - JUNE 27: Protesters hold a vigil outside the temporary detention centre where hundreds of anti-G20 demonstrators and others were being held and processed June 27, 2010 in Toronto, Canada. Hundreds of people, including journalists, were arrested by police in downtown Toronto during the G20 Summit and many were released prior to the 24-hour limit at which time they had to be charged with a crime. (Photo by Simon Hayter/Getty Images)

  • Demonstrators Protest The G20 Summit

    TORONTO - JUNE 27: Police attempt to clear protestors and make several arrests at a rally outside the temporary G20 police detention center, where over 500 people are now being detained on June 27, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Police are ramping up arrests across the city after widespread violence and vandalism plagued the city on the first day of G20 Summit. Burned police cars, smashed shop fronts confronted the force of approximately 20,000 police who were charged with keeping order. (Photo by Simon Hayter/Getty Images)

  • Demonstrators Protest The G20 Summit

    TORONTO - JUNE 27: Police attempt to clear protestors and make several arrests at a rally outside the temporary G20 police detention center, where over 500 people are now being detained on June 27, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Police are ramping up arrests across the city after widespread violence and vandalism plagued the city on the first day of G20 Summit. Burned police cars, smashed shop fronts confronted the force of approximately 20,000 police who were charged with keeping order. (Photo by Simon Hayter/Getty Images)

  • Demonstrators Protest The G20 Summit

    TORONTO, ON - JUNE 27: Police use smoke bombs to disperse protestors at a rally outside the temporary G20 police detention center, where over 500 people are now being detained on June 27, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Police are ramping up arrests across the city after widespread violence and vandalism plagued the city on the first day of G20 Summit. Burned police cars, smashed shop fronts confronted the force of approximately 20,000 police who were charged with keeping order. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

  • Demonstrators Protest The G20 Summit

    TORONTO, ON - JUNE 26: A protestor destoys a poster of Justin Bieber during a demonstration against the G8/G20 summits June 26, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario Canada. Store windows were smashed and a police car set on fire during the protest which was one of several planned in the city to coincide with the gathering of world leaders for the G20 and G8 summits being held in Toronto and nearby Muskoka June 25-27. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Demonstrators Protest The G20 Summit

    Police stand ready with weapons as the confront protesters during the G8/G20 June 26, 2010 in Toronto. Dozens of protesters were arrested. Some 30,000 people, according to rally organizers, marched against the G20 summit Saturday demonstrating in favor of social causes, in a largely peacefully rally until violence erupted on its fringes. The main body of the march was a well-marshaled event, led by older activists and organized labor, but splinter groups of young hardliners scuffled with riot officers and set fire to three patrol cars. AFP PHOTO /DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Demonstrators Protest The G20 Summit

    Protesters smash police vehicles in the Toronto's downtown core June 26, 2010 after a small group of anarchists broke from the main anti G20 demonstration and began a destructive march through the downtown. Ten thousand people marched against the G20 summit Saturday to protest for jobs and social causes, in a largely peacefully rally that saw nevertheless saw outbreaks of violence on its fringes. While the main body of the march was a well-marshaled event, led by older activists and organized labor, small groups of young hardliners scuffled with riot officers and set fire to at least two patrol cars. AFP PHOTO / GEOFF ROBINS (Photo credit should read GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Demonstrators Protest The G20 Summit

    TORONTO, ON - JUNE 26: A shattered glass-plate window cascades down as violent anti-G20 protesters, using Black Bloc tactics, smash and loot their way through downtown June 26, 2010 in Toronto, Canada. Violent protesters burned police cars, smashed shop fronts and confronted the force of approximately 20,000 police who were charged with keeping order during the first day of the G20 Summit. (Photo by Simon Hayter/Getty Images)

  • Demonstrators Protest The G20 Summit

    TORONTO, ON - JUNE 26: Police officers push back and use their battons to strike demonstrators protesting the G8/G20 summits on June 26, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario Canada. Store windows were smashed and a police car set on fire during the protest which was one of several planned in the city to coincide with the gathering of world leaders for the G20 and G8 summits being held in Toronto and nearby Muskoka from June 25-27. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Demonstrators Protest The G20 Summit

    Protesters smash police vehicles in the Toronto's downtown core June 26, 2010 after a small group of anarchists broke from the main anti G20 demonstration and began a destructive march through the downtown. Clashes erupted on the fringes of a large protest march outside the G20 summit in Toronto on Sunday, as hardline protesters set fire to a police car and scuffled with riot officers. AFP PHOTO / GEOFF ROBINS (Photo credit should read GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)



Toronto Police Attack Peaceful Protesters and Journalists at G20 Protests from brandon jourdan on Vimeo.

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