Many voices are calling for a public, not police inquiry into the police action in Toronto at the G20. The latest is Tabitha Southey writing in the Globe and Mail yesterday.
There are comments to her article, including one from a chap who seems to think that we live in a police state where citizens can be arbitrarily ordered off the street by police. He seems to be confusing, as another reader pointed out, the police with the law. In one of Rex Stout’s novels, a policeman is demanding entry to Nero Wolfe’s house. “Open up, in the name of the law,” he demands. the character Archie Goodwin answers mildly, “As you Know, it’s the law that keeps you out.” It’s the law that allows protest that is peaceful.
I watched the protest on Sunday night of the G20 from beginning to end. I watched demonstarters and journalists, dog-walkers and cameramen being encircled, held for “processing’ and bussed off to ..?where? Unlike the day before, I saw no one in black masks( the sight of which enrages me); I saw no vandalism. I admit that for a while the people did occupy the center of an intersection as they were prevented from going forward with their march. I understand they were told three times to move. Apparently this is a magic number after which the police can move in with their circle of armed men.
Ms Southey says she was terrified. I can believe it. I, sitting in my safe living room at more than 100 kilometres away, was shocked and appalled. If the police and the politicians who set the rules have an explanation for the people of this country, let’s hear it. If they knew there were violent individuals, armed and dangerous, in the crowd, show us the evidence. Bring them to court.
Ms. Southey also reports individual policemen mocking the psychiatric patients who had come out onto the street. (I’m not sure how people on the street were being identifies as psychiatric patients. I don’t imagine they were wearing signs.) Can anything have been more frightening to a disturbed mind than the sight of large men, dressed in black, with helmets and truncheons and guns, harassing and mocking? there appears to be a need for training on many levels.
Who were the police on the streets? Were they Toronto police, OPP(as those on the ground were reporting) members of police forces from other cities? Were they angry because of their experience with the Black Bloc the day before? Ms. Southey reports that they seemed to be spoiling for a fight.
For an another point of view, read Christie Blatchford in the same edition of the Globe and Mail at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/self-anointed-g20-journalists-should-get-real/article1627346/
In her article, most of which has to to with the journalists behaviour, she mentions that police were picking people up for a breach of the police or for a breach of the peace that hadn’t yet taken place. She says this is under the old common law. I believe that the rights and freedoms under the constitution supersede that.
It all took place on a sunny afternoon, in Toronto. Only nature, a severe thunderstorm, seemed to intervene and bring an end to all of it.