December 28, 2010, Toronto: With Constable Babak Andalib-Goortani charged and about to face consequences for his actions during the G20, Toronto residents injured during the G20 are calling for greater accountability, demanding that Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, RCMP Chief Superintendent and head of G20 Security Alphonse MacNeil and former OPP Chief Julian Fantino be criminally charged for the violence they orchestrated during the G20.
The Community Solidarity Network (CSN) has spent months hearing testimonies, working with those arrested, and supporting community organizers facing egregious charges and bail conditions. The picture that emerges, corroborated by the Ontario Ombudsman’s Report, is one of coordinated violence meant to intimidate community organizers and criminalize dissent. In response to Chief Bill Blair’s claims of “lack of evidence” to prosecute officers, CSN is releasing a playlist of videos which clearly documents multiple cases of police abuses. The ready availability of such footage exposes Blair’s lies, or his incompetence, or both. In either case, he has shown himself incapable of running an agency that claims to “serve and protect.”
The playlist can be seen at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GaYbq484abs&feature=&p=20DF3A28F9C558E6&index=0&playnext=1
“Many people in Toronto feel that the police overstepped and manipulated the law in order to abuse their power,” says Jean McDonald, a mother and Postdoctoral Fellow at McMaster University who spoke publicly* in July about being injured by the Police. “This is not about a few bad officers or even one police force; this is about an oppressive political & security system in which politicians & the upper ranks of police forces conspired in order to silence dissent and violate people’s rights.”
Over a thousand people were arrested, while many more were harassed, beaten, detained and illegally searched* before and during the G20 Summit in Toronto. Though numerous calls for a large public inquiry have been pushed aside, an initial investigation by the Ontario Ombudsman found that the police exercised, “extravagant sweeping powers … that would almost certainly be illegal and unconstitutional under the charter of rights and freedoms.”
“The Police were out attacking people everywhere, not just at the fence”, says Maryam Adrangi, a University of Toronto student who was arrested in Parkdale. “People were detained for long hours, their personal belongings searched and confiscated, all over the city.”
“Stephen Harper called the G8/G20 Summits a ‘memory to cherish’ in his recent holiday message to Canadians, but all the 1,100 people detained and abused and almost a hundred still facing spurious charges remember is a nightmare”, says York University Professor Lesley Wood, and an expert on mass-mobilizations and large protests.
“We’ve held press conferences about physical and sexual assaults, held rallies to protest the abuse on freedoms and participated in community meetings”, says Victoria Barnett, a film producer who helped compile the selection of videos. “And what we have learned is that the police repression was systematic, unnecessary and intended to scare people. To charge one officer and claim to be done with it is incredibly deceitful and insulting to Toronto residents.”
This footage shows that nothing less than a full public inquiry that investigates all the Police Departments involved in the G20 circus is sufficient. “The decision makers responsible for the chaos and violence unleashed by the Police, including Blair, MacNeil and Fantino, must face criminal charges for compromising public safety,” concludes Barnett.