G20 police actions prompt call for inquiry
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is calling for a public inquiry into police response during the G20 summit in Toronto over the weekend, calling it "disproportionate," "arbitrary" and "excessive."
"We certainly acknowledge that the police faced a difficult task," Nathalie Des Rosiers, general counsel for the CCLA, told a press conference in Toronto Tuesday.
"Nonetheless, Canadians are entitled to policing that does not undermine their constitutional values."
Des Rosiers highlighted some of the situations that she said warrant an inquiry.
They include police tactics on Sunday evening, when about 500 people were hemmed in by riot police at the intersection of Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue for several hours in the pouring rain.
As well, said Des Rosiers, there were the mass arrests of protestors outside the Novotel Hotel on The Esplanade Saturday evening.
The CCLA is also concerned about the conditions of detention, saying that people were denied access to lawyers, were unable to contact their families and were not promptly released.
The CCLA's report is based on the eye-witness accounts of 50 human rights monitors who were amongst the protestors around the city, as well as testimony from other reliable sources, Des Rosiers said.
At a simultaneous press conference Tuesday, Toronto police chief Bill Blair acknowledged that officers changed tactics after Saturday's chaos, in which windows were smashed and some police cruisers set on fire, but he insisted their methods were lawful.
Des Rosiers disagreed with that sentiment. "Unfortunately, we consider that the abuses chronicled in this report exceed the threshold of a couple of few isolated incidents and they demand accountability."