Toronto G-20 2010: Synthesis and Commentary

Posted: December 9, 2011 by hgill24 in Toronto G20 2010

The G-20 summit meetings took place on June 26-27 2010, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The summit included some of the most powerful leaders on this planet to discuss such as the Global Bank Tax and to promote Open Markets. Sadly, this event which was supposed to very historical and positive for Toronto and our great country of Canada would not be remembered as that but will be remembered for all the violent protests and police corruption against violent and peaceful protestors. Nearly 1,000 arrests were made during the event, making it the most mass arrest event in Canadian history. The Toronto Police have faced a heavy amount of criticism for their handling’s of the event where numerous non-threatening people were arrested and locked up in jail for up 40 hours without food and water which is very alarming because Canada is a leading example of how a country should be with the rights and freedom that it has and the unfair treatment of those who were wrongfully arrested. There have been many news stories around the world and especially here in Canada about the police handling of the protestors, outlets such as the Globe and Mail, National Post the biggest national newspaper company that we have here in Canada criticizing the police and big Media outlets such as the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) and City TV have also weighed on the issue. CBC’s Fifth Estate has also produced a documentary called “Should Have Stayed Home” and it discusses people’s experience of how they were treated by police that weekend and share their stories with CBC.

An article which I received in my Police Deviance and Accountability class “Intelligent Control” (Hudson and Roach 2003, chapter 8 page 266) brings up the word Intelligent Control. I believe that one word describes the action by the Toronto Police during the G-20 summit meetings. In my opinion the police did not handle their duties intelligently and to this day are still being ridiculed for their actions through the internet, newspapers and other sources of media communications. From the police standpoint they understood the magnitude of this event because it was a meeting of a lot of powerful people from all over the world and were meeting up in Toronto and it is up the Toronto Police to make sure nothing gets out of hand and want to prevent anything that will endanger lives. I believe the pressure they felt from amongst themselves and possibly from the people above them led them to do the tactics that they did and I am not defending them but I could see their point of view. I still do believe they were wrong in their actions because their actions are one of the reasons why participants of the riots and protesters are enraged and their behaviors are getting more violent. The Toronto police I believe had a very poor game plan that was executed very poorly. In the book by Maurice Punch’s book “Police Corruption” he points out many different types of typology and I believe the typology that relates to this topic would be noble cause, which means that it was necessary for the officers to use the amount of force that because it was the only way to control the situation . The article “Is the Whole World Still Watching? Explaining the Violence during the Toronto G20/G8 Meetings (Hodgkinson, 2011) I found online, which is very interesting because it states that in past G-20 and G-8 summits that have happened in the past where there are always protests and protests that turn into violence and yet the police are still not prepared for what is to come. I find this interesting because the people that are preparing these plans for the police haven’t been able to learn from past mistakes made by the host countries prior to Canada hosting the G-20 summit in 2010. The article also states because of the magnitude of the event also led to aggressive and unethical acts by the police and als0 the people that participated in the riots which turned violent not the protesters who want to get their point across peacefully and civilly which is the difference between riot and protest. I am also not blaming everything entirely on the Toronto Police that day but the people who participated in the riots which were only a small amount also have some blame on themselves as well because as citizens it is up to them to know what type of behavior is acceptable and what type of behavior is unacceptable.

The next article that I have come across is one where a respected Toronto news reporter witnessed police brutality first hand and talks about how he feels about it. Steve Paikan says he saw a news reporter get beat up with elbows and punched by Toronto Police officers for having his credentials removed. Paikan says he was watching a peaceful protest when police starting beating on the reporter from England and that he himself was given an ultimatum of leaving or risk being thrown in jail. Two students who flew to Toronto from UBC Okanagan to attend the peaceful protests were held in jail for over forty hours with no food or water which in some cases can be life threatening to those who are diabetic and people with other health conditions. I think the opinion of someone who is known to the average person is important because if he can get his point of view out there and I also think it is great that Paikan is sharing what he saw and is personal encounter with the police during the G-20 riots.

The final article that I have reviewed is an article from the National Post stating that there have been seventy-eight complaints filed by rights groups against the Toronto Police for brutality. There is a story in there in which one woman was arrested for taking a photograph of someone being arrested and hauled off in a van where an officer was sitting on her and held or throat.  The article also states that over twenty thousand security personal where on site for the two day event and $1 billion was spent on security alone. During those two days over 1000 people were arrested and 278 people were charged. I think it is alarming about some of the stories of victims that I have come across during this time that I have been introduced to this topic and something needs to be done, which I believe is to have those who officers known to participate in these unethical acts to be held responsible and send message with a fine or suspension so other officers to think twice before engaging in unethical practices or else in the future the issues will only get more serious and continued to be ridiculed in the process. The longer I have been researching this topic some new issues arise, one being “who is in charge of looking at police deviance complaints and what happens when a complaint is filed and how effective is this process and does it direct into an officer being disciplined or is this just another issue being swept under the carpet in hope of it just being forgotten about one day.

After researching this topic for a few months I believe the biggest issue or concern I and others have is who should be held accountable the officers or the police chief? There are arguments against both but if it were up to me it would be the chief because he is the one who came up with the game plan and the officers are the ones that executed a poorly designed plan. Since I am a big sports fan I like to use sports analogy, In any sport when a team is not living up to expectations of the team owner and the fans who pay a lot something needs to be done and in most cases by firing the coach is the first thing that is done because it brings in a new start and new rules and brings in a fresh stat because in sports it is mental not physical changes that are needed to get the steer the ship into the right direction. In this case the coach is the chief and he is the one is held accountable and I believe to send a message you cannot make an example of someone who is at the bottom of the depth chart you need to make an example out of someone who has a lot a credibility like in sports the team captain, star player or the head coach. Sending a message would not be trading away a fourth line player. Part of being the chief or the coach is to be a leader and to make sure to do the right thing for organization and in Toronto during the G-20 summit the best thing for the safety of others and the Toronto Police Department failed and I believe the police chief should be held accountable. If no one is held accountable then we have not learned anything, I believe the point of mistakes is how not to make those same mistakes again and minimize future mistakes, everyone makes mistakes but we have to acknowledge that a mistake was made and correct those. In this case there were admitted mistakes for example the one of the “special powers” but nobody was held accountable or took responsibility and that is why I am discussing this topic and the subject of police deviance and accountability is a debatable topic in today’s society. I believe that if officers and or higher up people are disciplined then it would make an officer in the future think twice about going beyond their limits. In a case where one man sued the Toronto Police department settled outside of court for a sum of $25,000 which was undisclosed terms, so making it difficult to know the exact details of what went on and when the case goes undisclosed everyone tends to forget what happened. There are some other cases that will be going to court and hopefully new details will emerge of what happened and hopefully people who have questions will begin to get some answers that they deserve to know.

The significance of the topic is that the police are the ones that we look to when we need help and for protection, its there job to ensure that there is peace and deal with those persons who break the peace and deal with them appropriately. When the police break their code it calls everything into question like if we cannot trust the police because their behavior is unpredictable then who can we really trust? With todays technology everyone has televisions, computers and phones and if someone is caught doing something wrong more than likely people will get a hold of the incident and it could be all over the news and newspapers in a matter of minutes. The police are always under pressure and scrutiny, if something goes wrong they are the ones that get blamed and if something goes right they do not get enough credit in my opinion. For example the police have been heavily criticized for not laying any charges during the Stanley Cup Riot in June while over seas in England there have been many charges laid against the London Rioters. It is always what have you done for me lately type of thing and if your not perfect then your going to have a lot of people breathing down your neck.

For people who engage in unethical practices against the police code, I believe someone or a different organization should oversee complaints against police officers. If an issue is dealt internally we will never get answers about the disciplinary action that may or may not have taken place. I feel as if a situation is dealt internally it would either go unpunished or a very lenient penalty against the person who is being disciplined. On the other hand if a person who is not working directly for the police department then I believe the officers will be more on edge and if they are caught then the situation will be out the police’s hands and the officer will have to deal with whatever the judge or whoever hands down to him or her. I believe anyone is expendable and if they are not living up to expectations of the society or the organization they belong in then I believe that somebody who is capable of handling the expectations of the position should be in charge and running the operations.

One area I would like to see improved is the discipline of the actions some officers commit. I believe in tougher and harsher penalties against those who have been proven to engage in behavior that contradicts the code of police officers. Letting people of easier is not solving anything and only bringing more controversy to the police organization and by having stiffer penalties will have a more positive bearing on the police organization and bring back more respect as well. If it were up to me I would give the officers one chance and the second offense would result in permanent termination and that person would not be allowed to become a police officer again. After the first offence I would suspend the officer for thirty days without pay if or when the same officer is caught doing something he or she shouldn’t be doing then they would be relieved of their duties.

I am fully aware that this issue will not go away 100% but with some tweaks it can become more respectable. Police officers know what they are getting themselves when they choose the career path that they did and I am not saying every police officer is bad I believe a small portion of them are “corrupt” and these guys didn’t come looking for trouble but trouble just found them. I believe with better screening and after they are hired they should have check-ups and ensure they are still fit to be on the force because it is a big responsibility to in some cases hold the lives of people in their hands. I also believe that there are people who are scared to come forward with information that they may have about deviant practices committed by officers and there are many cases that the public hasn’t even heard about and that’s a scary thought. It is now almost 2012 and there have been new cases emerging specifically the sexual assault accusations against male RCMP members against their female counter-parts and it is really disturbing and I hope whoever has been affected negatively by the police that they get the answers that they deserve.

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