Posts Tagged ‘Police Powers expanded for G20’

The G20 Toronto 2010 Summit was a formal meeting mainly consisting of heads of government. It focused on global finance and economics and took place in Toronto, Ontario between June 26 to 27 2010.  There were demonstrators that were protesting peacefully against the G20 Toronto 2010 due to issues such as poverty, gay rights, capitalism, globalization, and other issues that have caused controversy. This event had the most expensive security in Canadian history.  The peaceful protesters were arrested for trying to get their message across to the government. Moreover, a group of anarchists broke away from the crowd and started to damage buildings and setting police cars on fires while using black bloc tactics.Police powers were bolstered by the infamous ‘five metre rule’, created by the unpublicized Regulation 233/10, which allowed for extraordinary stop-and-search practice The G20 Toronto 2010 protest saw the largest mass arrests in peacetime Canadian history.  At least 1000 people were arrested and detained in a purpose-built detention centre.

The police security for the G20 Toronto 2010 had overused their powers with excessive use of force, breach of Charter violations,  use of intimidation and kettling.  First, there were examples of  excessive use of force that occurred  such as the photographer for the Post named Brett Gundlock was tackled and was removed by police officers in riot gear as they tried to keep the protesters from gathering around the Ontario legislature. A witness saw  the police officers knocked Brett Gundlock down and arrested and dragged him away. He was just standing there with other several media persons at that time. “They slammed him down, onto his ass so to speak, then they dragged him back up and pulled him back to the police line,” Mr. Gilmour said, a photographer for Canwest News Service (National Post, 2010).

In addition, there was confusion on the public and the police part of the regulation 233/10. The public was feared that if they came too close to the security perimeter of G20 Toronto 2010 meeting, the public would be forced to give their name and the purpose they were near the G20 security perimeter. If they refused, the public would be searched and be arrested. ‘The public has nothing to fear with this legislation and the way the police will use this legislation. It really comes down to a case of common sense and officer discretion.’— Sgt. Tim Burrows of the G8/G20 Integrated Security Unit (CBC News, 2010).  However, the police went out of the zone, and started to arrest and detain people illegally. For example, A woman working in Allan Gardens was illegally charged and arrested. She was charged for possessing burglary tools – her key chain. The charges ended up being dropped and she was released.  The Community Safety Minister Bartolucci’s ministry made a press release stating the changes under the Public Works Protection Act which specifically stated, “it does not authorize police officers to require individuals to submit to searches on roads and sidewalks outside the zone”(CBC News, 2010). Police had also used pre-emptive methods such as arresting citizens without any evidence or reasonable probable grounds. These arrests were breach of Charter of Rights such as Section 8 (unreasonable search and seizure), Section 9 (Arbritary Detention or Imprisonment), and Section 10 (unlawful imprisonment).

The police used certain tactics such as intimidation and kettling to control the protesters which aggravated them. Kettling is used as method to control crowds by closing them in by every corner when riots occur. For example, during the summit, the crowd was boxed or kettled in by the police on Queen St. and Spadina Ave. Toronto Police Service has confirmed that the crowd control technique will not be used again. Intimidation was also another role in the police deviance that occurred in the G20 Toronto Summit 2010.  Using excessive use of force, kettling and illegally arresting peaceful protesters were an act of intimidation, to stop people from demonstrating their beliefs and morals on controversial issues. Here is a link to a street map where certain activities occurred in Toronto, Ontario.

In every police organization, many police officers are supposed to be held accountable for their actions. Punch states that “the crucial test for policing in a democratic system is accountability. A police force that covers up corruption is unaccountable” (pg.9).  The Toronto Police of Chief  allegedly covered up the mistakes of the officers who used excessive use of force, and those who removed their name tags during the summit because they could not find the officers who was supposed to be held accountable for their actions. For example, Adam Nobody was a case of excessive use of force, allegedly said the victim was armed. Police of Chief had to clarify that Mr. Nobody did not have a weapon and the charges were dropped since no one came forward to tell the truth of what really happened.  The officers hid behind the blue wall of silence to protect themselves and preventing the force to look bad in the media. The Toronto Police of Service showed accountability avoidance for the officers who destroyed any faith that the public had in police officers, because they can`t apologize and take responsibility for their actions. Punch (2009) explains that if focus more on the institutional and operational level of a police force, then a theme of police deviance is not typically individualistic but collective that is mostly fostered by the police work, police subculture, and the organization of the force. Since the corruption is mostly focused on collective organization of individuals, it can be named “bad apples”. The more appropriate term for Toronto Police Service is “bad orchards” which has more serious, widespread and prolonged deviance in their force (Punch, 2009).

The most important issues I found that intrigued me was the regulation 233 1o law. I believe the public had the right to know what to expect when it comes to security perimeters. The police are supposed to follow the law that is given, and not take it out of their jurisdiction where the 5 meter rule did not exist. It is interesting to note that the police were given these special powers during G20 Toronto 2010.  Then few days later, the  Toronto Chief of Police denied that the 5 meter rule existed. This shows that “The police are not seen as legitmate and are not trusted, and are engaged in systemic crime and deviance, and are, above all, unaccountable” (Punch, 2009, pg. 8). Public has the right to know where and when not to be at a certain place, since this failed miserably, the government should be held accountable for charter violations that took place during the summit.

Another issue that I found is the excessive use of force that was used in the G20 Toronto 2010. As Punch (2009) states his textbook, “officers operate according to the rule of the law and are answerable to the courts, aim to enforce the law impartiality and apply their assigned monopoly of violence with restraint”(pg.4). The officers used pre-emptive methods to arrests citizens without any evidence. They would walk into a protesters home, and try to intimidate them from protesting in the G20 Toronto 2010.


Punch, M. (2009)  Police Corruption: Deviance, Accountability and Reform in policing. Cullomption, Devon. Willan Publishing.–exclusive-toronto-police-swear-off-g20-kettling-tactic