Home » Ontario 2010  


Watch also...


Police, anti-G20 protesters clash again in Toronto

By Linda Nguyen and Mark Kennedy

Clashes between police and anti-G20 protesters began anew Sunday, with officers making dozens of arrests as they attempted to avoid a repeat of the rioting that erupted on the first day of the global summit being held in Canada’s largest city.

Security forces seemed to be taking the initiative Sunday, making more than 50 arrests at the University of Toronto campus and saying they had found a stash of bricks and other “street weapons” as well as black clothing.

Many of the most violent protesters a day earlier had worn all black as they broke windows, hurled objects at police and set several police cruisers on fire. The riotous day of demonstrations threatened to overshadow both the much larger number of peaceful protesters and the meeting of international leaders being hosted behind a security perimeter.

Pic: Toronto

The arrests Sunday brought to about 530 the total number of demonstrators detained. The charges range from possessing dangerous weapons and assault to disturbing the peace.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief spokesman, meanwhile, blamed “thugs” for the violent protests.

“What we saw . . . is a bunch of thugs that pretend to have a difference of opinion with policies and instead choose violence in order to express those so-called differences of opinion,” said Dimitri Soudas, Harper’s director of communications.

“You know, people do disagree on issues. Leaders that meet all the time don’t necessarily see eye to eye. But you don’t see people burning up police cars and breaking windows.”

About 200 protesters gathered Sunday outside a temporary detention centre in the city’s east end where those arrested were being held.

The demonstrators were singing, dancing and holding peace signs and were greatly outnumbered by riot-gear wearing police officers.

Then, suddenly, officers began firing tubes spilling white smoke into the gathering, and forcing their way into the crowd to make arrests.

Sounds of “pop, pop, pop” could be heard as officers fired the canisters.

Two Greyhound buses arrived carrying more officers, as police formed a barricade, four or five officers deep, to block off the street in front of the detention centre.

Officers made at least six arrests, using plastic ties to bind the hands of those they detained.

The Integrated Security Unit had warned protesters that arrests would be made if the demonstrations turned violent.

“If there is any form of violence against citizens or police, arrests will be made,” said Insp. Brian O’Connor. “Violence will not be tolerated.”

Those gathered outside the detention centre Sunday had said they did not condone violence, and that the majority of those arrested are community organizers.

“We’re here to support our friends and comrades,” said Maryam Adrangy, a member of the Toronto Community Mobilization Network.

“People are even afraid to come by because they’re intimidated by police,” she said, choking up. “People who arrived in the free-speech zone were encircled by riot police. That is not right.”

There were also complaints of mistreatment by some protesters.

A 19-year-old woman who would only identify herself as Becky left the detention centre Sunday morning.

She said that she had been strip searched and that officers made jokes about whether she was male or female because of her androgynous look. Becky said she was forced to sleep on a concrete floor with no pillows and blankets.

She said she was told she had been arrested for breach of peace and that officers thought she was going to spray tear gas into the crowd. Becky said she was released this morning without any charges being laid.

Meanwhile, police were investigating an apparent attempt to breach the sewer system in downtown Toronto.

Police said four people were arrested early Sunday morning after private security guards saw them come out of a sewer and then walk along Queen Street, just steps away from the Eaton Centre and the Old City Hall courthouse.

The guards contacted police who made the arrests a short time later. A rope, attached to the top of the manhole, was also found.

Officials stressed the manhole was “well outside the security perimeter” surrounding the site of the G20 meetings.

The riots Saturday left stark images on TV and in newspapers of marauding gangs of rioters, jumping on burning police cars, smashing windows, and hitting police officers with clubs.

The height of the riots occurred in the afternoon, but demonstrations continued on into the evening and overnight.

In the wake of the violence, questions have emerged about the wisdom of the Harper government’s choice of Toronto for the G20 summit. Originally, the plan was for Canada to host just one summit – the G8 – in the town of Huntsville, located in the Muskoka region north of Toronto.

Last December, Harper announced a second summit of the G20 leaders would be held in Toronto immediately after the G8. The federal government chose a site in the downtown core, just blocks from the financial district, over the objections of municipal officials who preferred another location in the city – at the Exhibition Grounds. They argued this would have required a smaller security zone and the site would have been further from the commercial district where protesters might gather.

As it turned out, the centre of Saturday’s riot – where police cars were set ablaze and storefront windows smashed – was in the financial district.

Soudas said that despite the publicity surrounding the riots, Canadians need to know the summit is important for them. He said the Canadian economy can be buffeted by economic downturns elsewhere in the world, so it is important for Harper to gather other leaders to discuss a co-ordinated economic approach.

“What Canadians get out of it is that you have the 20 most influential leaders in the world having important discussions,” he said. “Ultimately what leaders are discussing today is growing the economy and creating jobs.”

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Police+anti+protesters+clash+again+Toronto/3208263/story.html#ixzz0s4q5MsjL

Source: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Police+anti+protesters+clash+again+Toronto/3208263/story.html