G20 SUMMIT TORONTO
Timeline of Events – Saturday, June 26 & Sunday, June 27
QUEEN’S PARK – Saturday Afternoon
5:30PM – People gather on the lawn of Queen’s Park, perhaps with more people than those of the Yonge Street march. A and I walk around Queen’s Park for a little while, noting that police in full riot gear are gathering on the south side of Queen’s Park along College. A few moments later, we notice police in full riot gear gathering on the northeast and northwest sides of Queen’s Park. It seems as though the riot police have boxed us in and there is no way out. Realizing that police are slowly closing in on the large crowd (700-1000 people) A and I ask that people sit down, showing the police we are peaceful. We talk to police, asking them if it is okay to be sitting where we are. They tell us to move back 30 metres and that this would be a safe place for us. We all move 30 metres backward, and the police advance the same 30 metres. We notice that one of the police had just shot pepper spray, though a small amount which is not enough to disperse a crowd or cause a lot of smoke. This amount of pepper spray came as a surprise as things we still peaceful – including the words exchanged with police. We begin to cough, noting that a few others around us – including police – are also coughing. The coughing did not last as it was a very minor amount of pepper spray which was shot. We ask the police, again, if this is a safe area to sit. The police then ask us to move an additional 5 metres back. We do, and sit down. An old man and his daughter sit down. A and I talk with the two of them, offering them water as the day is pretty warm. We did not hear anything that resembles an alarm or audible warning telling us to leave or else we will be arrested. Some people are sitting, others holding signs, others signing, others standing and watching. Some people begin chanting, though it doesn’t seem to remain. Time goes on, we talk with others, and everything is peaceful.
6:00PM – Police begin to march slowly forward. Sarah (son of the amputee), A and myself get up quickly, while John (the amputee) is struggling. We attempt to help him up. The front line of riot police is close, and coming closer. As John is almost up, I here an officer shout to another, “those four!”, and I am attacked.
A police officer in riot gear jumps on me and I am brought to the ground. I scrape my legs against the pavement just before my torso, arms and lower jaw and teeth also meet the pavement. He bashes my head against the ground. He is on top of me and applying extreme force. “I was helping an old man! I was helping an old man!”, I scream. “Shut the fuck up, you piece of shit!”, he replies, and hits me with his club or punches me in the forehead – this I could not see. He is putting extreme force on the back of my head and my back. He then grabs me and drags me behind the front line of riot police, where there are no protesters in sight. He punches me in the face twice, hard, and walks/drags me to the police van. I slouch beside the van, bleed onto my pants, while another officer asks me for my name and ID, searching my bag. There I see Sarah standing by the van about 6 feet away. I give a hopeful smile. I can feel blood running down my lip. My jaw feels strange and is out of alignment. There is a small chip in one of my front teeth. Much of my forehead is in extreme pain. I am dazed, confused as to weather my mental state bares more relevance to my body being in shock from the incident or whether I have a concussion. “Well that’s what you get by fighting with the Police”, the officer says, “wrong place at the wrong time”, he continues.
They read me my rights, say a few more words, take a picture and tell me I am arrested for “Unlawful Assembly” (this is the only charge they said at the time, though I would be told the next morning that I was also charged with “Obstruction of Justice”) They then put me in the back of the police van. My vision is going funny, though I can somewhat make out what is happening to the rest of the protest from the window. The violence continues. I did not witness protestors initiating violence. I did however witness many accounts of the police initiating violence against the protestors.
As time goes on, 5of us end up in a compartment of the back of the van – A, myself, and three other males, all looking to be in their twenties. One of them cannot open his eyes. He is bleeding from his right eye. He has a wound on his forehead, and is in extreme need of medical attention. He is praying. More time goes on and we ask police to give him medical attention immediately. We think we hear the officer respond with “Yup, in an hour”. We have asked 5 times however the police have not responded. We wait.
9:15PM – We are put into the police bus, and head toward what we find is the Detention Centre in East Toronto. While on the bus we met with many others who had been beaten and arrested. Some have worse wounds than I do, others don’t. As time goes on, the man with the bleeding eye, who now seems to have a concussion and is falling asleep, is still not given any medical attention. About 8 people on the bus continue to demand medical attention for this man. The officers move the injured man to the front of the bus but he is still given no medical attention.
THE DETENTION CENTRE – Saturday Night, Sunday
10:00PM – We arrive. We are searched and our belongings are taken from us. This includes our shoes, sweaters, and cell phones. I am first told that I should only be here a few hours. A and I are separated and sent to the first stage of cells, which are about 30’ X 12’. There are approximately 20 people in each cell. Many people in the cell which I am in are badly in need of medical attention. My nose is no longer bleeding but is quite painful; I have additional pain across my face above my cheeks. I have a large welt on my forehead along with many scrapes which are giving me pain. My left outer thigh is in minor pain from the police officer jumping on me. Strangers who are in the cell with me say, “wow, you need medical attention”, though I respond with “I feel much better than I look”. Other people need medical attention much more than I do, and so I do not seek medical attention for myself, but, rather help to get the attention of the police for others. There are others in the cell who have asked for medical attention and are receiving nothing. As time goes on, they get increasingly aggressive. They start yelling, “I need a fucking Doctor!”, and other similar sentences. They are not shown to a Doctor. I begin to talk to the people who I share the cell with. All male, most of them between 20 and 30. I learn that many of them were also beaten and arrested at Queen’s Park. The vast majority of them, however, say that they were not even apart of the marches or protests. They state they were innocent bystanders, for example, walking along College after meeting their girlfriend a block down the road, or walking down University with family members after watching the soccer game at a neighbourhood bar. Many of them tell stories of police and SWAT randomly attacking them on the side of the road, beating them and arresting them. Some had black eyes, while others had broken ribs. Apart from the innocent bystanders, others were involved in the peaceful protest directly in Queen’s Park. Their stories were similar to mine – peacefully protesting until police and SWAT suddenly attacked them, beating and then arresting them.
11:00PM – My name is called. I exit the cell briefly to get my picture taken and return a moment later.
12:00AM – My name is called again and I am taken to another cell. This is stage 2 of the “processing”. I am searched extensively.
12:20AM – My name is called again and I am taken to a Sergeant’s office. I am searched again, told why I was arrested, and instructed to tell him, while being videotaped, what had happened at Queen’s Park.
12:30AM – I am then taken down the hall where I pass through a metal detector and I am then sent to a cell with 2 other men. The one man was about 60 years of age and says he was arrested while exiting a bar with family members while the other man was about 30 and says he was beaten and arrested while sitting in a circle, talking with friends in Queen’s Park around 3:00PM on Saturday, before it got chaotic. The three of us ask police, walking by the cell, when we will be getting food and water. The last time I ate was at breakfast, around 9:30AM in Dundas. They say “soon enough” and keep walking. I ask for a blanket because I am in pants and a t-shirt and they have taken my shoes. I am getting cold. This request is denied. The cell has a small bench and a port-o-poti without a door. I sat on the cement floor, freezing, with bright fluorescent lighting constantly beating down upon me.
1:30AM – I try to sleep but am overwhelmed by the screams and cries of people all around me in different cells, and the police screaming back. Angry arguments break out between people in different cells as their voices reverberate throughout this entire section of the warehouse. People are asking for food, repeatedly, and not getting anything. They also ask for water and blankets. Some people who ask for blankets get orange jumpsuits, while others don’t.
2:00AM – After asking for water and food for a long time, they arrive. We are given a small bun with margarine and one slice of processed cheese inside. We each get one styrofoam cup of water. I eat and try to sleep but am unable to. The cold air and angry voices keep me from sleeping. It appears that many others still haven’t received food or water. One of the other men in the cell with me, of about 30 years of age, is in the fetal position, huddling himself beneath his t-shirt beside the toilet, shivering as he gets whatever sleep he can. A kind, modest man. The older man, of about 60 years of age, wears an orange jumpsuit. Earlier, he says that while waiting elsewhere and asking for a bathroom, he was denied access to a toilet. After telling the police that if he didn’t get to a bathroom soon he would shit himself, he did. And at that point the police gave him an orange jumpsuit to change into. This man now walks back and forth at the front of the cell, from one side to the other. Head down, hands linked behind his lower back. He repeats this for a long time, occasionally sitting down to exchange a few words with me. Huddling on the cement floor and sometimes on the small bench, I shiver and try to fall asleep, catching no more than a few minutes of sleep now and then.
3:30AM – I am somewhat awake, still shivering. As the fluorescent lighting beams down into my cell in the middle of the night, I can hear chants of protesters from outside the warehouse. “Let them go! Let them go!”, It is loud, as if there are hundreds of people just outside angrily chanting. Shivering and hungry, I fall asleep for a little while longer, just to wake up in a similar state – still shivering and hungry. This cycle repeats itself for hours.
8:00AM – I wake up. Soon after, we receive another small bun with margarine and processed cheese and a styrofoam cup of water.
8:20AM – A police officer comes to the cell. Asking my name, I quickly get up to speak to him. I am eager and ready for anything to happen. He tells me that I have a court hearing at 10:00 this morning and that I may get out soon after that. He also tells me about my charge(s). “And you are aware of the charges you have?”, he asks. “Wait…”, I reply, “I am aware of the one change I have. I only have one, don’t I?” “No, you have two. You were all given the sound of the alarm and a warning over a megaphone to leave Queen’s Park and you did not listen. That is why you were arrested and given this other charge”, he says. Confused and tired, I say, “Right… Okay… So a court hearing at 10:00?” “Yes, but it will probably end up being a little later. 10:00 or this afternoon”. “Thanks”, I say, and I move back to my spot on the cement floor. I know however that I didn’t hear an alarm, a megaphone or anything like them. Anyone I talk to who was at Queen’s Park at this time agrees – there was no alarm sounded, no announcement over a megaphone.
8:30AM – I close my eyes and try to fall asleep, not wanting to be apart of the current situation of cement floor and fluorescent lighting. People continue to scream out of anger, they request for their “phone call”, food and water. A police officer comes to the cell, asking me if I wish to make a phone call. He tells me that the Toronto Community Mobilization Network has made the connections to provide anyone arrested during the G20 protests with a lawyer. I talk to one of these lawyers on the phone. He tells me about the court process I now have to undergo, says I will most likely make bail today, and that he will contact my parents back home in order for them to help with the bail process. Not necessarily in the monetary sense, he says that having a family member or friend at your bail hearing to support you will increase your chances of bail.
9:00AM – I am taken to another cell. On my way there I am strip-searched by two males in a room. The entire search took 1 minute. The new cell they had put me in after was small. Within an 8’ X 6’ space, 10 of us are crammed into the cell over the course of an hour. There was no bathroom, and although we were told a number of times that we would receive food, we did not.
10:00AM – I am taken to get my finger prints scanned.
10:20AM – I am taken to another Sergeant to retell my story over videotape.
10:30AM – I am taken to a new cell, being the last stage of “processing” in the Detention Centre. I meet with 14 others in this larger cell with a bathroom. Many of the men in this cell I had met the night before. A is here. We share our stories and our frustrations. Police tell us we will only be here until 2:00, at which point we are scheduled to move toward “Finch”, the Courthouse where our bail hearings will be taking place.
2:00PM – We are all told that there are too many protesters outside blocking the exit from the Detention Centre to the street. We will therefore have to wait until the protests dissipate.
3:00PM – 10 of the men in the cell are sent to the Finch Courthouse.
5:00PM – The remainder of us, plus newcomers, are finally given the water we requested hours ago.
6:30PM – We depart for the Finch Courthouse.
7:15PM – We arrive at the Finch Courthouse.
7:40PM – I meet with a lawyer who gives me information pertaining to my court hearing.
7:50PM – I am taken to a cell in the basement of the courthouse until I am called to my bail hearing. There are 5 other men in the cell with me, all of whom were arrested during various G20 marches though I only recognize one of them from the Detention Centre – a Korean man, of about 18 years, who has no family in the country and has only been in Canada for 2 weeks. He seems optimistic.
8:30PM – I walk to the court hearing. My mother and step-father are present. A lawyer, appointed by the Toronto Community Mobilization Network is present. The type of bail is a kind of promise to show up for my court hearing, scheduled for August 23 at the Finch Courthouse. This means I do not have to pay for bail, assuming I do show up for my court date, which the judge then explains. If I do not make an appearance at my court date, then I am to pay $1000. Conditions of my bail are described by the judge: I am not to return to the City of Toronto until July 5, and I am not to take part in any assembly until that date.
8:40PM – The judge agrees to grant me bail on the following conditions: I am not to return to the City of Toronto until July 5, and I am not to take part in any assembly until that date.
8:41PM – I am taken back down to the cell while my case is being processed.
9:30PM – I am let out. My belongings are returned to me. I do not know where A is, and wonder what is to happen if he is let out later through the night with little money. There is no way of finding him or figuring out when he will be let out. I meet my mother and step-father in the lobby of the Finch Courthouse, and we leave.