Public Values

CCLA rights monitors arrested

Civil Liberties Association denounces sweeping illegal arrests.

by from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association

Reporters arrested, CCLA civil rights monitors arrested, more than 500 people in detention, police unwilling to provide access to lawyers, cellphones seized — what is going on? Police will say that four to seven police cars were set on fire and that there was much looting and spray painting, pop cans and rocks were thrown and more vandalism was planned at the fence or elsewhere. Is the policing proportionate to the threat?

CCLA is demanding that its monitors be released promptly. CCLA has been unable to contact them: no access to a lawyer has been provided. Many other peaceful protesters have also been arrested. Police must have reasonable grounds to arrest people. Mass arrests are not an appropriate way to police sitting crowds in a democracy.

Up until late Saturday afternoon, police actions had been restrained. Certainly, it had been disproportionate at times, with hundreds of police officers surrounded 75 peaceful marchers; large groups of police officers circling one lone protester to search a back pack; umbrellas and water bottles being seized. We also witnessed people intercepted and detained, even charged for not identifying themselves.

Friday's marches were tense in a couple of places: police officers rammed their bicycles into protesters, and verbal confrontations occurred but it ended peacefully. Saturday started out with the large "People First" march with a trajectory negotiated and approved by the police: down University, west on Queens, north on Spadina and back to Queen's Park. The protest marshals knew that there would be splinter groups wanting to reach the fence to spray it or put their banner up. Looters were also expected to take advantage of the situation.

Yet it is unclear why police cruisers would be in the vicinity of the protest. Throughout the week, police officers circulated in unmarked vans. While hundreds of riot police officers were blockading streets south of Queen, looters got out and threw rocks along Queen and up Yonge (reports vary on the numbers, from 50 to 100). Confrontations occurred as well on King.

It is still unclear why the people gathered at Queen's Park at 5 pm were suddenly charged by riot police. It appears that the small group of black clad looters was still out to spray paint and throw rocks in windows. Certainly, however, not all those at Queen's Park fell into this category. Since then, more than 500 people have been arrested and none are being released. It would appear that the presumption of innocence has been suspended during the G20.

CCLA is concerned about the conditions of detention: people are being denied access to lawyers, they are unable to contact their families and we have heard that there are no plans for prompt release. The police does not appear to make serious attempts to provide access to lawyers or information. This is a serious violation of basic rights of hundreds of people.

Posted: June 27, 2010

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