Police officers clash with a demonstrator during a protest ahead of the G20 Summit in downtown Toronto June 25, 2010.
Credits: REUTERS/MARK BLINCH
TORONTO - Police officers ignored the basic rights of citizens during the G20 Summit in Toronto, a new review says.
The Office of the Independent Police Review Director released its G20 Systemic Review Report Wednesday. The report canvassed all 320 public complaints made against police during the June 2010 summit.
"The events that took place over the course of the G20 weekend resulted in the largest mass arrests in Canadian history and had a profound impact not only on the citizens of Toronto and Canada generally, but on public confidence in police as well," Gerry McNeilly, the independent police review director, said.
While the 300-page report says that overall, police officers carried out their duties in a professional manner during the G20, it also blasted cops for taking off their name tags, kettling protesters and detaining people for long periods of time in poor conditions.
The review examined the clashes between police and the public at Queen's Park, The Esplanade, the Graduate Students' Union at the University of Toronto and the intersection of Queen St. W. and Spadina Ave.
At Queen and Spadina, hundreds of people were cuffed and forced to stand in the rain for hours, which was unlawful and unreasonable, McNeilly said.
The review says the police had no legal right to storm the student union and wake students at gun point for an unlawful assembly the day before because they couldn't say who was who.
Police also broke the rules because many removed their name tags during the summit, allowing them to act outside the law.
"Removing the name tags can't be ignored. We know of 90 officers not wearing name tags," McNeilly said. "Senior officers chose to ignore the rules,"
The review also examined the stops and searches that occurred and the planning and operation of the Prisoner Process Centre.
"The prisoner centre was poorly planned and designed," McNeilly said.
"It was poorly designed and they couldn't deal with people's legitimate needs. People under 18 were placed with adults."
The review says people at the jail had no access to lawyers had to use toilets with no doors and the facility was too cold.
The report makes 42 recommendations, including improvement to police communications and the issuing of loud and clear warnings before making mass arrests.
McNeilly said he will monitor how police respond to his recommendations. He conceded some will be easy to implement and others will take time.
When there could be mass arrests, the review says, police must have plans that include the length of time before prisoners need to be fed and how long restraints can be used.
The report also recommends planning for a detention centre must outline the capacity for each cell and clearly designate those designed for male, female and youth occupants.
"It is my hope that the recommendations I have made provide a map to improve the interaction between the public and police during future protests and to strengthen confidence and trust in police," said McNeilly.
Tommy Taylor was arrested on the Esplanade and said that after two years he is still waiting for justice because he doesn't believe the police will take the recommendations seriously.
He said he was kept handcuffed for 24 hours with 40 other men in a cell meant for 10.
"I don't see any justice or accountability here. The people who left me in a cage handcuffed without water still have their jobs. I want the cops who broke the law held accountable, but it is police policing police," Taylor said.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association wants the Ontario government and the police to immediately implement the recommendations.
"We know what happened during the G20. We know that there were rights violations on a massive scale. What we need now is accountability," said Abby Deshman, public safety director of the CCLA.
"Transparency without accountability is unacceptable. We have multiple reports documenting in detail massive rights violations over that weekend. The individuals who were in charge need to accept responsibility and be held accountable."
This is a damning review, said New Democratic Party Leader Andrea Horwath.
"It once again shows that this government put in a law that allowed authorities to take away peoples' civil liberties and trample their charter rights. What people want is a government that protects their rights and freedoms, not a government that tramples those rights and freedoms," Horwath said.
Progressive Conservative public safety critic John Yakabuski said all the problems at the summit flow from the so-called "secret law" the Liberals passed and police claimed allowed them to arrest anyone within five metres of the security fence.
"What we have yet to hear either from the attorney general's office, or the public safety minister or anyone in the premier's office or otherwise, is an apology for the mess that they made of the G-20," Yakabuski said.
"Why have Ontario's citizens not heard an apology for doing that in the first place."
-- With files from Jonathan Jenkins