Purpose of Attendance
I went to the area to see what was happening in person but ended up unwillingly caught up in the action defending my rights.
I believe the escalation was primarily caused by the police force on Sunday. While the events on Saturday were certainly disturbing, it does not grant police the right to randomly grab people and assault them or to make mass arrests. The gathering was extremely peaceful, and the place where I was actually contained no protesters just onlookers with cameras.
I live just a few blocks from Queens St and Spadina and came up there on bicycle. I ended up east of Spadina on the “outside” of the protesters that were getting boxed in at the intersection. The crowd was almost all onlookers just taking photos.
At one point the crowd decided to sing O’Canada. As soon as the song finished, the police rushed us. I lost my bicycle in the process which ended up behind the line. Over the next hour, the police advanced in multiple iterations squeezing us further towards University Avenue. People didn’t seem too worried as everyone was expecting they could still get out to the north.
When the rain began, many of us took shelter in a parking garage up on Beverley St. Soon afterwards, a line of cops came past us to the north and set up a line. At this point, people started to get worried that the noose was tightening. A few minutes later **** hit the fan, and the bicycle cops began advancing on us. This time, it was obvious they weren’t just pushing us back – they were going to grab us. People started to panic and run. I used an alley to run further east trying to find an exit to the north. At some point, I heard a shout ordering me to stop so I raised my hands. A cop jumped on me, ordering me to get on the ground, which I promptly did. Another 4 cops joined and over the next minute I was kicked in the ribs, in the head, and beaten with police sticks. They kept shouting that I was an anarchist or something like that. While this was happening, I kept yelling that I live in the area and that I have ID with my address to prove it. The attack continued regardless. I ended up with bruises all over me, and a big gash on my back. They then grabbed me by the arms and dragged me maybe 5 meters on asphalt. I was then hand cuffed and lead to a court services van.
I spent the next hour in the van alone with my hands cuffed behind my back. My hand went numb from lack of circulation. Finally I started screaming that they had to loosen my cuffs. Soon they came and pulled me out of the van, putting me in front of a little white board with my name on it to take picture. I was told I was being charged with Illegal Assembly and put back into the van. After about an hour they started driving and shortly I was transferred to another van. When I was taken out they kept saying they are taking me to all my anarchist friends or something to that sort. Another guy was put into the van with me, at which point they turned on the AC. As we’re both soaked head to toe, we ended up insanely cold.
The ride was very long – I soon realized we weren’t going to detention center as we were on the highway. We ended up at the police station in Scarborough at which point they released us with no charges and were kicked out into the rain being told that if we stay we’ll be charged with trespassing.
Overall Experience & Lessons
The entire experience left me significantly disillusioned with our government and the police force who are entrusted with public trust. Our prime minister have shown a complete lack of good judgement by picking one of the worst locations to hold G20 meet, wasting enormous taxpayer resources and creating an environment that left deep scars on the biggest Canadian city. The police force obviously overstepped their bounds by trashing civil liberties that many take for granted.
Over the next few days many people expressed deep support for me while others sided with the police telling me I deserved what happened to me. Looking back, I would say I don’t regret going to this event and would do it all over again. Civil liberties should not be taken for granted and I believe as a Canadian citizen I have the right to exercise those liberties and ensure that the powers granted to the people in our government are used appropriately. It is through incidents like mine that injustices get exposed, inquiries are made, and checks and balances that keep our society on track are maintained.
If my liberties are trampled for simply being on the street two blocks from where I live it’s a sign there’s a dysfunction in the system and something should be done. People should care about their rights because if they don’t you end with only an illusion of free and democratic society. I don’t want to see something like this happen in my city, my neighborhood, and my street ever again and I hope stories like mine will ensure of that.