“Our bodies were policed”: G20 protesters illegally arrested & profiled as “Black Bloc” for clothing and appearance fight back by serving lawsuits against Toronto Police

31 Jul

“Our bodies were policed”: G20 protesters illegally arrested & profiled as “Black Bloc” for clothing and appearance fight back by serving lawsuits against Toronto Police

7 people from the Hamilton area will serve a $1.4 million claim against the Toronto Police Services Board for illegal G20 arrests.

They will hold a press conference outside of the Toronto Police Service Headquarters at 40 College Street this Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 10 a.m.

Although not expressly mentioned in the statement of claim, some of the Plaintiffs believe they were profiled for arrest because of their appearance, including “hairy legs.” This assertion received support when a police complaint about the arrest was substantiated in a written report produced by the Ontario Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD). The report found that TPS Constable James Ure (#863) wrote in his arrest notes, “all parties appear to be protesters; back packs; clothing & females all have hairy legs.” Constable Ure told OIPRD investigators, “…it was something that – one indicator that I associated with protesters down at the G20 that weekend.” The OIPRD found that Constable Ure committed Discreditable Conduct after it was alleged that during the arrest he said: “fucking cunts, shave your legs, you dykes.”

The lawsuit also makes a direct connection between orders given by Chief Bill Blair and other senior TPS officers and the illegal arrests of protestors by TPS officers on the street during the G20. The claim alleges:

“Senior TPS officers were frustrated that front line officers were not able to stop the vandalism. At approximately 5 p.m. on June 26, 2010, senior TPS officers including the Chief of Police William Blair, Deputy Chief Tony Warr, Superintendent Mark Fenton, and Superintendent Hugh Ferguson met, and thereafter gave orders or authorized more assertive and aggressive police tactics. After this meeting, senior TPS commanders used inflammatory and excessive language when giving orders to subordinate officers encouraging them to “take back the streets” and referring to vandals as “terrorists”. Senior TPS command created a climate within the TPS of hostility towards peaceful protestors and reckless disregard for the rights of people to engage in activities that are protected by law, and specifically s. 2 of the Charter.” [emphasis added]

The claim further alleges the following:

The Plaintiffs were falsely arrested as they walked out of Amato Pizza at 429 Yonge Street on the Sunday of the G20. One of the Plaintiff’s asked the reason for the arrest and was told that police would “make one up”;

One of the women was sexually assaulted by a male officer during a road side search;

The Plaintiffs spent more than 24 hours at the Eastern Avenue Detention Centre and were then released without charge; and

The Plaintiffs were held unlawfully for many hours in handcuffs and were illegally strip searched.

The lawsuit was filed just prior to the 2 year limitation period at the end of June, 2012 and may be the last G20 legal action to be served against the TPS Board.

For more information and for copies of the Statement of Claim and the OIPRD Report contact lawyer Davin Charney: Phone: 1-226-747-2317; Email: davin@charneylaw.ca

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