Video recorded during the Toronto 2010 G20 and uploaded by YouTube user toxicwaste26 shows a revealing exchange between police and a group of protesters. This exchange highlights the climate of intimidation and ambiguity over the rules of policing that characterized the G20 weekend.
I have spoken with many demonstrators and G20 detainees who report being told by police that their rights were rescinded, that the constitution suspended, that martial law was in effect – essentially, that the rules had changed during the summit. In point of fact, the hushed passage of Regulation 233/10 did extend police powers under the Public Works Protection Act, but it did so in a limited fashion and in a particular area – not across the city.
What makes this video instructive is the straightforward expression of the police narrative, summed up by York Regional Police Sgt. Mark Charlebois’ remark that “This ain’t Canada right now”, and then shortly after “There is no civil rights here in this area,” “How many times do you gotta be told that?” The video illustrates a confrontation between demonstrators seeking to assert their rights and police operating in a perceived state of exception.