TORONTO - The two most prolific American rioters in the G20 chaos of 2010 were slapped with the longest sentences meted out — 24 and 20 months respectively for terrorizing police and the public.
Kevin Chianella, 21, received the two-year penitentiary term while Joel Bitar, 28, was handed the 20-month term Thursday by Justice Ronald Boivin.
Both Americans admitted using Black Bloc tactics — donning masks or disguises and then attacking storefronts and police cars — as they pleaded guilty to various offences.
“These were very serious offences that put people in jeopardy and caused chaos in the City of Toronto,” said Boivin.
Chianella caused $300,000 worth of damage — the most by any protester — and faced the highest number of offences — 52 charges. The Queens, N.Y., resident got the longer sentence because he swung a bag full of rocks at a police cruiser with Staff-Sgt. Graham Queen trapped inside.
Queen feared “that he would be removed from the vehicle, disarmed and beaten” by the swarming thugs, court heard. Bitar, of New York City, also attacked Queen’s cruiser, shattering a rear window, but he didn’t know an officer was inside the vehicle, Crown attorney Liz Nadeau said.
The judge said Chianella, who was only 18 at the time of the riots, “got caught up in the moment and overwhelmed in the chaos.”
Court heard Chianella, who suffers from attention deficit disorder and seizure disorder, comes from a broken home, which led him to join the Black Bloc.
Bitar said he was a university student in New York majoring in economics and planning to became a Wall St. tycoon when major events changed his goals.
When the large-scale perpetrators of the global financial crisis received federal bailouts while “millions lost their homes,” Bitar said he became an activist for economic reform.
Boivin said he was impressed with Bitar’s speech about various global issues but “that doesn’t justify breaking windows and jeopardizing people’s lives.
“That is not a legitimate form of protest,” Boivin said.
Both accused had no prior criminal records.
Det.-Sgt. Gary Giroux said he felt some sympathy for the peaceful protesters, whose “message was eclipsed by the masked criminals who terrorized citizens and damaged businesses.”
The sentencings “virtually mark the end of the G20 litigation,” said Giroux, with only one American left to stand trial.