6.29.2010

The Letter My Husband Wrote In Response to the Happenings at the G20 Protests Last Weekend In Toronto

Hello Mayor Miller,

I'm writing to you, and my various mp's, about the disturbing events of the weekend. I know you had previous concerns about hosting the G20, and now they seem justified. I do, however, strongly feel the various police forces commanded as I understand by Chief Bill Blair overstepped their bounds this weekend, with mass arrests and intimidation tactics, and many of those tactics have as yet to be explained motives. I just wanted to focus on the one or two that really irked me.

I was very, very upset at your police media representative Staff Sgt Mcguire's explanation for the human corral that took place at Queen and Spadina, and his insistence that it was lawful. I recognize that the 'Police Box' is a tactic to prevent swarming by protesters, but it was implemented in the most abusive way and without the proper context of the situation. But what really, really troubled me afterwards was Mcguire's explanation to the media that the innocent bystanders/gawkers caught up in the police box failed to disassociate themselves from 'potential black bloc types' who were in the same area. I was unaware that 'failure to disassociate' was a clear and articulate reason to detain mass amounts of people. Also, your police department is saying that the various protesters and bystanders made a choice to associate themselves with these vague individuals, of whom Mcguire would only say were charged with various 'conspiracy to commit' crimes, since no violence actually occurred. How does one disassociate from something that hasn't happened?

So, from TPS's point of veiw, if you are walking down the sidewalk today or in your office, you must constantly assess everyone around you in order to infer from their dress or actions that those persons may be considering a criminal act, at which point you must disassociate yourself from the entire area, the borders of which are unknown and indeterminate, and hope that the police will let you leave, which they did not do for those at Queen and Spadina who tried to disassociate.

This smacks of impromptu law-making, of making up a crime and seeing if it sticks, which should concern my MP's. This 'guilt by proximity' argument for the abuse of civil rights and mass detainment and subsequent processing of innocents and peaceful protesters sets dangerous precedents for the flimsiest of reasons, and is merely being proposed by the TPS as an excuse for their actions, and if it sticks, it will be a new Orwellian tactic in their arsenal. It says that any size protest can be detained for any length of times in the future if even one person dons a black ski-mask, no questions asked, because it is assumed that the presence of one individual has the tacit approval of the entire group by reason of proximity. This is obviously ridiculous.

This weekend I believe the Police Box tactics, among others, were used not to facilitate legitimate protests, but just to isolate, intimidate and shutdown any and all protests, regardless of their intentions, and this is the real shame of this weekend. The precedents set by your police force will affect every protest or public gathering in the future, long after the few broken windows and burnt cars are replaced. I also believe that the overwhelming amount of police presence made their co-ordination unwieldy, and one group of police ordering protesters to move in one direction probably had no idea they were sending them into another group of police, who would then order them in yet another direction, etc... and then would have no sympathy for the crowd that just wouldn't seem to leave.

In sum, I agree with Amnesty International's call for an independent investigation into the security issues surrounding the G20, and look forward on hearing your explanation in the media of these tactics, and a police apology to those caught up in this situation.

-CW

2 comments:

  1. I love how level-headed and specific this letter is, K&C. I do believe that the weekend policing started well but went south by Saturday evening, and that particular incident was certainly one that begs for questions about the limits on authority.

    I do understand that police are human, and had faced a long day of unpredictable and at times scary actions against them, and that they were at their limits of patience and ability to hope for the best outcome, but as professionals, it is their duty to assess the situation that they are dealing with rather than to assume that anyone on the street is up to the same violent or destructive acts that were the work of only a portion of the people they came across that day.

    that they didn't is as tragic for the police forces overall as the black block protesters were for the protesters at large.

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