It’s been four weeks since the events of that sad, dark weekend of the G20 and I feel I should add my voice to the chorus of outrage over the excessive and heavy handed police tactics during the summit. Here is my story:
On Sunday, June 27th I decided, like many to take photos of the G20 — merely to mark an extraordinary weekend in Toronto — perhaps snaps of the broken windows on Yonge and any other events of that day. I rode around the Bay and King area on my bike, stopping to take photos before riding up to Queen and Beverley around 6:00.
I was curious about all the streetcars being turned back from Spadina so I headed that way, taking photos as I went. I came upon a crowd of people, perhaps two hundred strong, most of whom seemed to be onlookers. A smaller group seemed to be protesters as evidenced by the signs and flags they carried. A line of riot police in full gear was blocking the way to the intersection of Queen and Spadina which lay beyond about 300 feet to the west. The cops were in a line from Steve’s Music on the south side of the street to the Lululemon store on the north side of the street. It was strangely quiet.
I moved down to the front of this crowd and took some photos of the cops and the crowd and then moved to the south side of the street. A few people were yelling at the police — heckling them. It was now about 6:30 or so in the evening. I watched as a small group started singing “O Canada”, leading the crowd and moving down front to sit some twenty feet in front of the cops. When the crowd finished singing the National Anthem the police charged. There was absolutely no warning nor were the police provoked by violence on the part of the crowd. At no time did they warn people to leave the area or to get off the street. They charged, wielding their rubber batons and descended on the group sitting up front. Terrified, everyone began running. I ran for my bike which I left under the Steve’s Music sign. It was here that the cops caught up to me: one of them lunged with his baton, smashing my left hand. I fell to the ground in pain and found myself with three or four riot cops over top of me, all wielding their batons and ready to beat me some more if I resisted. I put up both hands in a “surrender” pose.
” Get the fuck up!!! Get the fuck up!!! ” they screamed.
I got up, dazed and stunned by what had happened. I held out my left hand: the ball of my thumb had swollen up to twice it’s size and was a very angry purple. Surprisingly, I was very calm — the assault had been so quick. All four cops had me surrounded against the window of Steve’s. One had removed his helmet; he was in his late fourties. He told me I could go. I asked for my iphone back, I’d been videoing the scene when the police attacked. It was passed forward. I also asked for my bike and was told it would be passed out later. They were very polite considering the violence they unleashed upon me. Of course, they couldn’t take me down to the detention center on Eastern Ave. with my broken hand — it wouldn’t look good if I walked out the next day without treatment.
I walked away in a daze, some of the people there telling me to get to a hospital. A woman in her twenties gave me iodine. I stumbled off as the police again pushed forwards toward the crowd. “These are our streets! We have a right to be here!” peopled yelled, trying to distance themselves from the riot police who were now pushing the crowd toward Peter St which was also blocked by a line of cops.
I went in search of ice and hung around hoping to retrieve my bike. About 6:45 or 7:00 it started to rain — a real downpour. Soaking wet, I left Queen West, talking with two people I fell in with, one of whom was from Queens, NY. Everything seemed to be shut down — the Yonge subway wasn’t running and with the Queen streetcar being turned back I was forced to walk up to Dundas to find a way out of the downtown. It was a surreal and grey day.
I would wait a full day before getting medical attention. I was afraid the Police would want to pick up anyone involved in the circus at Queen and Spadina, so I didn’t go to St. Michael’s Hospital that night. When I did go to a hospital I would tell them I had a bad fall. I figured if I told the medical crew at Emergency that my hand was smashed by a cop, that they would call the police. In my fear I saw them leaning on me to keep silent.
The cops had broken my thumb: I’d received a fracture to the lower bone in my left thumb. I was in surgery the following Saturday (July 3rd). I wore a cast for a week and then was fitted with a splint. Two wires approximately two inches long were inserted to hold the thumb bone in place. They would cause constant pain until they were removed on July 27th. I now face two months of therapy and must wear a splint to immobilize the thumb as it heals. Hopefully I get full mobility back.
A little about myself: I’ve never been in trouble with the law. I have no axe to grind and don’t go to demonstrations but do support anyone’s right to do so peacefully. Like any thinking person, I was disgusted by the rampage on Yonge Street on June 26th and was also shocked at the wanton abuse of civil rights by the Police that followed, the violence done to me only a small part of that abuse.
What I saw at Queen and Spadina that evening — a peaceful crowd attacked and beaten by the Police for no reason — will haunt me for a long time. I’m still very angry at what occurred. Truly, the G20 was a sad and dark chapter in Toronto’s history.