Friday, July 2, 2010

Why we MUST have a public inquiry

Any one of these events indicates a public inquiry is needed.

1. Police exercized powers they did not have.
2. Province did nothing to clarify police powers to the public.
3. Community activists targeted and subjected to harrassment.
4. Police ordered to stand down during only real violence.
5. Police use of agent provocateurs.
6. Hundreds of people arbitrarily arrested contrary to Charter of Rights.
7. Inhumane conditions in detention center.

1. Police exercised powers they do not have
Just prior to the G20 weekend, the public was told that police had been granted new powers in a secret meeting of the McGuinty cabinet under something called the Public Works Protection Act, a holdover from WWII. These powers were to give police the right to ask for ID and perform searches, suspending probable cause, within 5 meters of the security fence.

They immediately widened that zone to include the entire city as this man, who was correct when he stated his rights, was illegally threatened with arrest in Allan Gardens. Allan Gardens is several kilometers from the security zone.

All weekend long people were subjected to this non-existent law. Blair is splitting hairs when he says no one was charged under the law. They were charged with breach of peace when they stood up for their legal right not to submit to a search. For that matter, they were arrested even when they did comply, in the hundreds.

2. Province did nothing to clarify police powers to the public
The Globe and Mail has an excellent timeline of the law that never was.
"To counter complaints that Ontarians weren't made aware of the new law, the government directs reporters to an advertisement taken out by Toronto police in some newspapers prior to the summit. The ad, titled “What you need to know about the G20 Summit,” makes no mention of the Public Works Protection Act, any recent provincial decisions, or a five-metre rule."

3. Community activists targeted and subjected to harrassment
Numerous citizen activists were targeted by police and visited in their homes and workplaces prior to the summit in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and various other cities. Their crimes? "Oh, nothing....yet" to paraphrase the police.

4. Police ordered to stand down during only real violence
During an hour-long rampage along Queen St. W. to Yonge St. and then up to and along College St., so-called black bloc vandals smashed windows at will, with no police in sight. An independent journalist followed them for over an hour. According to Paul Warrington's article in the Sun:
The officer said that eventually there was "a clear order from the command centre saying 'Do not engage' " and, at that point, smelling weakness and no repercussions, the downtown was effectively turned over to the vandals while police, up to 19,000 strong, were ordered to stay out of it. 
The command center was run out of Barrie ON, far from media attention by the RCMP. That suggests to me that political motives were at play, and ties in with the next point.

5. Police use of agent provocateurs
After the SPP conference in Montabello it was proven, and subsequently admitted by Quebec police that they had used "undercover" police to incite violence. This, according to what's called the Miami Model is standard procedure, used to justify both the costs of security and the massive police crackdown that follows.
“They threw rocks.” That’s the line police use after tear-gassing or beating protesters most times. Urine and human feces are variations on the theme. But it’s always the protesters who triggered the violence. 

Man who trashed police cruiser at Queen and Spadina. Inset: police agent provocateur at Montebello.

6. Hundreds of people arbitrarily arrested contrary to Charter of Rights
Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects people against arbitrary arrest. And yet in the numerous roundups following the staged vandalism on Saturday, hundreds of people were arrested simply for being there. From the Miami Model again:
A popular police tactic is called “kettling.” Officers on bike or horses herd protesters into an enclosed space, so they can’t leave without trying to break through the police line. Take the bait; you provoke a beating or arrest. 

Or, in this case, sit down and sing O Canada.

7. Inhumane conditions in detention center.
In a post prior to the summit, I wondered why the detention center was served only by an outside hose for water. Hundreds of people locked up in cages begging for water for over 12 hours, denied medical treatment, denied the right to a phone call, denied a reason for their arrest, not read their rights, mocked and humiliated by their jailers, and in some cases threatened with rape.

Amy Miller - Alternative Media Centre, Independent Journalist from Darren Puscas on Vimeo.

For a chilling and heartbreaking summary of one young man's Kafkaesque arrest and nightmare detention click here.

Any one of these travesties of justice and human rights should be subject to a full public enquiry. But that won't happen unless we demand it. I urge everyone to write all of these people and demand it, and demand Bill Blair's resignation as well.

David Miller, Mayor of Toronto:
Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario:
Legislative Building
Queen's Park
Toronto ON M7A 1A1 
Your local federal MP

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  1. As said previously we are calling public participation asking for an independent investigation. Only through public non-violent/non-destructive participation can the public will be heard.

    If you witness vandalism, please immediately voice your concern loudly that their vandalism is destructive to public participation. Do not support hate, it is counter-productive. Therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves hating evil and loving good establish justice, faithful until death.

    These problems cross multiple levels of government, police and security services. Which have failed to protect and serve the Canadian public to various degrees.

    This requires an independent investigation. Given that these problems cross multiple levels of government and police, I strongly suggest monitoring the independent investigation committee by international monitors who will publish at various point of the investigation, with a final full published report at the completion of the investigation.

    Timothy Webster Green Party Candidate for Richmond Delta

  2. In addition the internationally monitored independent investigation should examine the

    - G20 planning. 1.1 Billion dollars is a lot of money. Why were the recommendations of Toronto ignored. Security at the CNE could have been obtained at a fraction of the cost? A military base which includes security could have been used with open land for demonstrations with very few targets for vandalism.
    - G20 1.1 Billion spending requires a detail financial audit. The G20/G8 was budgeted to cost under 200 million. This difference represents an enormous mismanagement of public funds.

    Timothy Webster Green Party Candidate for Richmond Delta

  3. Thanks for your comments Timothy and for your party's support for calls for an inquiry.