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Text published 13 July 2010
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G20 Toronto : arrests, excavations, FILING, batons and incarceration (my story)
After resting for a few days spirits, I think that it is now time to write the story of my life as a demonstrator at the last G20 meeting held in Toronto, of 25 at 27 June 2010. After being violently assaulted by police, I have been imprisoned for about 26 hours, without any charges being brought against me.
I would like to clarify at the outset that I was no there to make the case or to commit any criminal act. As a member of Québec solidaire and activist for a better society, it seemed important for cons to be present at this meeting in order to expose its anti-democratic, elitist and untrue. I brought my digital camera in order to gather images of events, as well as interviews with friends that I planned to meet. This is actually what I did, but I could not save these images.
This article is divided into several parts and deals in detail with my stay in Toronto, I arrived at my departure. The purpose of this narrative is to inform all Quebecers on what really happened in Toronto, as in my case for hundreds of other people. It is, I think, representative, although many people have experienced an even more painful than mine.
My story until the arrest
I left Quebec, Bus passenger, Friday 25 June 2010, 20:00. I made the trip with a friend of Levis. After a transfer to Montreal (Berri-UQAM), A second bus took us to Toronto. We arrived around 6:30, Saturday morning. The trip lasted a total of about 11 hours, during which we slept little.
Upon our arrival, we decided to visit places. We went to Chinatown, a very interesting place : the decor is beautiful, Attractive restaurants, businesses rather bizarre. The area of the district is at least 5 times greater than in Montreal. It is a must if you visit the city.
After the tourism market of about one hour, we decided it was time to get down to business : we were not in Toronto to do window shopping ; we had a government increasingly anti-democratic challenge, ideas, values and to propose solutions. So we decided to walk up and down University Avenue, the main road from one end to another Queen's Park (where the parliament of Ontario) and the Safe Zone, where world leaders would meet. We then met two French-speaking Montrealers (who were in the same bus that we, we do not know) with whom we decided to walk. Near Queen's Park, we had the chance to be intercepted by police. They stopped their car near us, landed, ordered us to stop us. They asked us where we came from, why they spoke French, etc.. They then searched our bags, finding nothing wrong. They confiscated my bottle of cider vinegar : they said they confiscated everything that could be any chemical. I did not protest (it would have served no). During the search, they asked our new friends why they were wearing a t-shirt and a black camisole : "To make only brewed" replied Miss Montreal. A journalist, with an identification badge, then arrived at the scene and began taking pictures of the event. Immediately, a police officer ordered him to stop :
– P : « Stop it! »
– J : « Why? »
– P : « You don’t have the rigth to do that. »
– J : « Yes I have, it’s my job! I’m a journalist! »
– P : « Stop it right now! »
– J : 'In, I Will not! »
The police did not stop it. The intimidation did not work, The journalist knew very well that police could not arrest him without a reason, or censure. He continued to take as many pictures as he wanted ; Police tried to hide their faces, without success. They then returned to us, then we explained the difference between "to protest" and "to manifest", The first is legal according to them, the second illegal. On the stroke I did not understand the difference. They then left us from, We suggest not to participate in events, to our security ... We left to visit Queen's Park, there taking some pictures of the Ontario Legislature, then we stopped 5 few minutes to accompany people through meditation in the park. It was very relaxing. I took a beautiful picture of my companions still.
After Queen's Park, we decided to go around the neighborhood safe, to see what it looked like. During our tour, we have been intercepted three times, in less than an hour. Whenever, They searched our bags, finding nothing wrong. Every time we told them we had already been searched. After a third search in so little time, we just decided to leave, to return to Queen's Park, where was supposed to happen the big peace march at noon. (Note : it was quite possible to walk the streets near the secured area, many workers moved about, as well as hundreds of tourists. We met with police at Tim Horton. It was a very quiet morning, mais l’atmosphère était étrangement lourde.)
Towards 11h00am, we were back to Queen’s Park, where the city of Toronto had given official permission for that place be used for speeches and rallies throughout the weekend (City of Toronto even had installed twenty blue toilet chemicals). When we arrived, journalists would drop off their equipment and various civic organizations, from across Canada (and even other countries), began to join them. The groups marched in the streets, singing, playing music, shouting slogans committed! The atmosphere was festive. That's when I met Emily, walking and singing in the street, going off to join the section of the march which was restricted to women demonstrating for gender equality and the right to abortion in developing countries. Only downside : dozens of police officers, the ends of the park, sadly reminded us of their presence. Big Brother was watching all of us : we knew only too!
The grand march was started a few tens of minutes after noon. We crossed University Avenue on his long. We were several thousand marchers, Perhaps more 10 000 in any! Delivered to the U.S. Consulate, I witnessed (I filmed and) a scene of the most daunting. The avenue was then separated into 2 tract (each going in a direction). The right side, where was the Consulate, was protected by a double barrier of metal, followed by at least thirty riot police, supported by 3 or 4 Police armed with a rifle shotgun each black and orange (probably guns with rubber bullets), and some officers seemed the police still monitor .... Not that there was no violence, any form of aggression by protesters (passing near the Consulate singing), we saw all of a sudden the door of a building adjacent open, then 5 Police armed with machine guns MP-5 out. They positionnèrent back, by officers. At least a third of the demonstrators from every moment in front of the Consulate could notice them. I filmed the arrival of the soldiers ... sorry, armed police. The contrast [musical instruments] vs [machine guns] was very disturbing. We learned several hours later that these officers were from Montreal (we asked the question, then we have responded, in French).
At least a hundred meters from the security fence, Walking round to take a side street (probably Queen Street, from what I've read on my return to Quebec). There we continued to walk, peacefully, along dozens of small shops. The march eventually separated at some point, group continues to walk the city singing, another going to a group of police officers for a sit-in, shouting slogans, etc.. Note : we never had the possibility of approaching the security fence.
I then stayed behind, several tens of meters from police, because I was afraid they would react violently (my contact with police during excavations in the morning had put a flea in his ear). Then I saw a very strange scene : a police car arrived on a street nearby and decided to cross all the demonstrators who were on Queen Street, lights and alarm activated. I also filmed the incident. We were hundreds of protesters to wonder why the police acted in a manner so inconsistent, in addition to being dangerous (pedestrian crossing they could hang). I learned much later that the officers abandoned their car in the middle of the event ...
About 20 minutes after the arrival of the police car, I filmed a group of about twenty policemen, maybe a little more, who found themselves in the middle of the event, without apparent reason. They were probably related to the vehicle that had crossed the mob. About 200 Demonstrators sang songs of love around them, and slogans like these : « We are peaceful, what about you? ». The protesters raised their hands, then pointing them chanted "This Is What Democracy Looks Like! », and then pointing in the direction of the police "This is What Hypocrisy Looks Like! ». After a while, the police decided to leave, advancing slowly toward a side street where there was a line of riot (on Peter Street and John Street). No policeman was assaulted. Some protesters were pushed, at most. Dozens of people, demonstrators and journalists, filmed this event. The desire of non-violent protesters was impressive.
Only by leaving the scene, around 16:00, I met Emily again, near Soho Street. She was there with another friend of mine. It was at that moment that I saw a broken window in a Starbucks : if I remember correctly, This was the first and last face that I saw being damaged (is to say how such incidents were rare!). We decided to go have a beer at the Village Idiot Pub - Pub in the Village Idiot (in 2 Languages), but before, I should go meet a friend at Queen's Park. It is by going there I found that the entrances to the park was closed by police, without apparent reason. People in the park were sitting, discussed, ate, etc.. There were dozens of journalists! Making me by another street, I heard the police begin to order to leave. I did not pray : it is at this moment that I realized that police repression became violent and massive. I looked in the adjacent neighborhood my friend, without success. I then went back to join my comrades in the pub, where we supped. Later, the friend I was looking contacted us by cell phone and came to join us.
After the pub, we decided to go back to being where the invasion of Queen's Park. Arriving there, it was found that the police vehicles were leaving the premises and all seemed to cool down. It was then 9:30 p.m., environ. A line of police blocking the entrance even at Queen's Park in College Street. Then we saw two women who were sitting in front of police, silent protest repression that took place since the end of the afternoon. Some people went to join the two women, sitting in the rain. Then the police have told these people that College Street and Queen's Park would be reopened soon, then they would be arrested if they refused to stand in 15 minutes. The delay, everyone left the scene without incident, except one. The police jumped over several, flipping over and crushing the ground very hard : I filmed the scene. But then at least 20 police exceeded the arrest, and raised their shields to prevent us from filming. A police officer with a bicycle placed in front of me, shouted 'Get back! ' And struck me a violent blow in the belly...! I then retreated, saying the officer Sir, you kick me, you don’t have the right to do that ». I have continued to decline until the police come to rest. They had formed a line, did not move and did not say anything. We were several yards away, us as they had ordered. All seemed quiet again. That's when I asked the officer, very politely : « Sir, may I have your name and your badge, please? ». He responded by yelling "Catch HIM! ». Certainly, they saw the surprise in my eyes : the guy who did everything to avoid trouble and would eventually be arrested. It was incomprehensible. It was then 10:30 p.m., environ.
I raised my hands and I said "I am peaceful, I surrender ». I saw 2 Police break ranks and jump in my direction. They grabbed me, gave me a bulwark stay, then put my face on the wet pavement. It coopérais, without resistance, by the mollusk. A policeman put his weight on my right shoulder, probably with his foot. A policeman shouted "Do not resist! "And gave me a truncheon blow behind the head, behind my right ear. I said loudly "I do not resist, I surrender ». He shouted again, "Do not resist! "And hit me again in one place. J'ai répondu «I am peaceful, I do not resist! ». He shouted at me again not to resist, then hit me right arm. I answered the same thing. He shouted again, do not resist, then hit me a second time the right arm, then I cried again as I went and I was peaceful. And finally, he took my camera from my hands, I pulled out my poncho on your back, took off my backpack, then handcuffed me. Then, they raised me and made me sit on the stairs at the entrance of a building. The officer who hit me with his bicycle then addressed to me, looked into my eyes and said a sentence I'll never forget : « Now, do you still want my name and my badge? ». I did not answer this question, but I answered all other questions later (to complete the documentation of arrest).
Half an hour later, I was taken to a police van. I have found a friend, arrested for a similar reason. After another half hour to walk around the city (we had a hard time to breathe, because the air was very hot, even though we were only 2, the vehicle may contain 4 or 5), they have landed and we have changed the handcuffs for Tyraps (tight : a week later I still have cuts on his right wrist). They have also installed cuffed feet. We were then transferred to a very large salad bowl (for around 25 people). Then we set off towards the Toronto Film Studios (Detention center).
I will not go into details concerning the conditions of incarceration, because Emily has already provided an excellent overview in his press conference (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v = TGjlHWarXeg ), in addition to having lived under different conditions of mine (including strip searches). These conditions were horrible and inhuman. I'm sure they were not in the state of the art (the probable class action or a possible public inquiry will demonstrate).
Arriving, we saw cages dog around 4 meters wide, by 10 meters long and 2.5 meters high. There must have been between 15 and 25 individuals in each cage, orange and a chemical toilet without a door (you could see people going to the toilet). Before a scene so humiliating, persons on board the van could not hold a kind of nervous laughter, caused by stress. We could not believe they would all be in the same situation, it was inconceivable to what had been done ... Finally we found it is all.
The studio was huge. There were at least a dozen cells of the same size, the toilet with no door. A policeman snatched my feet cuffed, then took me to read a poster at the entrance informing us that we were constantly filmed and that our discussions were recorded (many have not had the chance to read it and knew that several hours later). Then he brought me to my cell, with others. They have not detached hands. I immediately sat. We were 26 people : the cell was too small so we can all be lying at the same time. In the cell in front of us, people shouted repeatedly that they were 40 (they demanded to be changed for more than cell 10 hours of time). We could see people in other cells, but several people spoke to each other. There was a strong sense of solidarity among the oppressed.
The people in my cell taken from several social circles, groups and not all had been arrested in the same place. These included 3 Journalists, which 1 CTV : ironically they blaguèrent, arriving, saying 'ok, get us out into the cells, it'll make a good story when we go out ". Those kept morale throughout, knowing they could never be accused of anything. But others were really scared. Some spent hours without saying anything, sitting or leaning in a corner of the cell. I was the only francophone in this cell, so I had nobody to talk. I practiced my understanding français.
It was very cold. We had our cell near the air intake which was then projected in the remainder of the building to cool it. It should be made between 10 and 12 degrees Celsius. Several people had very few warm clothes, as shorts (in my case). I love the freshness, I am very sensitive to heat actually, but I still had very cold. The police refused to give us blankets, a coat or any warm clothes. The best way to stay warm we would have been glued together, but they were all men and we never dared to do so for reasons of virility (thank you to the Western masculine identity!). It only remained to lean back on the toilet chemical, Hottest, as plastic. To try to sleep, he had to sleep on the concrete even more cold and very wet. And there was also the neon that were permanently open, and the policemen who were walking between the cells, shouting the names of prisoners.
It was not until about 6 hours before receiving water (passing, a prisoner was detained with his watch : until his departure, Sunday late afternoon, we knew what time it was). But the police did not gave us full generosity : for several minutes, people, in all cells, gave a kick in the gates, shouting "We want water" before the police accept. And they brought a big bottle, then gave us a glass of water each Styrofoam. They refused to give us more, even those who clearly had the air dehydrated or sick (they were given in part our water). We then received food, an hour later : a sandwich of white bread with a slice of Kraft cheese. I ate this sandwich and I immediately felt bad. I received 3 other sandwiches during the rest of incarceration : I have kept in my pockets, then I gave 2 other prisoners who were dying of hunger. Thereafter, I have not eaten over a period of at least 15 hours.
After ten hours, they gave us toilet paper. But they have not removed the Tyraps so we can use. A few hours later, mid-afternoon Sunday, My cellmates were worried for me, because I had a lot of blood behind his head, where I received 2 truncheon. I also had a big bump on his right temple, and a very bad headache that came and went constantly. I then asked to go see the doctor.
– Policeman : « You must answer me clearly : do you want to see the doctor, yes or no? »
– I : « Yes, I want to see the doctor. »
– Policeman : "Ok. It Is Now requirement year for me to escort you to a doctor "or a similar phrase, meaning the same thing.
I could then leave the Studio Theatre and be in the sun (actually, in the shade because the building, but it was very comforting anyway). Beside me, there was a young woman of about 18 years which was in a deep state of shock : she wore a green coat strange, was handcuffed wrists, and the ankles, had his head down, her hair hung down the side of his face, then I saw her tears fall on the ground. It was a disturbing scene. Further, a woman was taking the pulse. She saw us and told us, with a quiet voice full of conviction : « Never forget : they can break your bones, but they CAN’T break your mind! "Marking.
The doctor handed me a few minutes to review later. It was nice sandstone. But police were with him during the examination, This meant that the situation could not be fully relaxed. He considered that I did not need stitches for cuts of about 3 inches behind the right ear, then that I should certainly not make concussion. He gave me a bottle of water, as well as Advil and Tylenol for pain and my migraine. I then returned to prison, but a policeman kindly cut my Tyraps, then install the new me much less tight (I even managed to remove one to go to the bathroom afterwards!), before I return with my cellmates.
Towards the end of the day on Sunday, they began to pick up people in our cell, to get them elsewhere (we do not know where, they refused to tell us). After more than 22 hours of incarceration, I became the last in my cell. It was night, he began to get very cold. I asked if I would soon change cell, like others who left. I was told you could not tell me. I asked for warmer clothes : I was told that I have, but nobody came to give me. I finally resolved to sleep on concrete. Then we came to wake me up about an hour later.
It took me to meet a detective in a Bungalo, front of a camera. He asked me some questions and told me I had to wait before knowing if I would go before a judge. A police officer was speaking French and I was part of the translation, Only when I explicitly asked. Then they took me to another cell, where there were some French. One of them asked a cop when we would be released. He was told : « In nineteen days » (in 19 days). But barely an hour or two later, two policemen came to wake me : "Denis, wake up, you’re going home ». And I respond : « Yeah, right, you’re kidding? ». 'In, for real, you can return to Quebec ». They led me into a room where I saw people leave a cell after listening to a police officer to read out a sheet in English, getting caught in photo, then pick up their belongings in a plastic bag. They were then asked to exit. Then I saw my friend who was arrested at the same time as me. I got the same reading (forbidding us to attend another event within the city of Toronto in the coming days), then they took me and brought me a picture outside the center of incarceration.
After being released from prison
Delivered outside, I was greeted by a welcoming committee. On m’applaudit. Journalists took pictures. And they even gave me a slice of pizza with mushrooms vegetarian : DELICIOUS ! I was very happy. I then got my stuff from plastic bag. That's when I noticed that my semi-professional digital camera was not there. I cons by the cover of the camera, know, which was very ironic. I informed a policeman : he returned to prison, returned 30 minutes later, told me that the camera had been lost in the process of incarceration, then it was the fault of police. Il me donna un # de téléphone pour rejoindre le « Property Bureau » : in fact this was not the right number, or the right name for the organization (called the "Property and Evidence Management" of the Toronto Police Service). By the time I left the scene, two police officers were apparently trying to find my camera in the Studios. When I go to my "claim" (claim), they are supposed to make me or pay me. On verra…
I could sleep at 2 People of Toronto, entertained us generously. I was with my friend, incarcerated at the same time as me. These are the people of the welcoming committee at the exit of the prison who put us in contact. These people were really motivated. Arriving, before the golden opportunity to take a shower, we took videos of my injuries : very big cut behind his right ear, a large bruise on his right arm, a lot of torn skin and blood on the right leg, cuts on my right wrist, etc..
The next, we went to Dufferin Grove Park for a ride organized by using the CLAC (Convergence of Anti-Capitalist). At 3:30 p.m., buses arrived. At 15:40, 2 police motorcycle was parked behind the yellow buses. 15:45, it was found that several policemen in plain clothes were in the park and we took a picture. At 3:50 p.m., 2 policemen in civilian settled cameras to film the scene, including one on the roof of a building. All this was done without anyone sees any vehicle stop near the park. Everything was very fast.
The police on motorcycles escorted us to the boundaries of the City of Toronto, a motorcycle before the first bus, another motorcycle behind the last bus. The bikes eventually meet on the highway, then they took an exit. Mais c’est alors qu’on remarqua un 4×4 avec les fenêtres baissées à côté de nous : it was full of police who sent us the hand we make "bye bye". We were paralyzed. No one has said anything, or moved. They ended by departing too. Then we did about 8 hour bus ride to reach Montreal. Me and my friend was so taken narrowly the last bus traveling to Quebec City. At home I 4h00am, front of my computer, coffee hand, informing my friends that I was still alive.
I take from this misadventure a deep sense of injustice. The helplessness in prison, when you lose all forms of freedom, is atrocious. Several people cracked, both men and women, I can well understand. It was certainly a rewarding experience, in that it allowed me to better understand, live, what a totalitarian and repressive state, even fascist. But I'd rather learn it other than being bludgeoned, traumatized and censored.
I also remember that Canada is a bilingual political phantasm who died along with Trudeau. He should stop burying our heads in this illusion. If the batons are all wrong in English and French, orders, l’interrogatoire, threats, l’harcèlement, intimidation and even the answers to our questions are much worse in the language of those who despise us! They did not care Quebecers and francophones, ensured that they are more often victims of oppression, if you look at the tens of testimonies on the subject! So we might do better to remember the next time he will issue asymmetrical federalism and Quebec independence.
I also remember that Canada has a very big problem on our hands. Its democracy is ill and she coughed a lot of blood during this weekend. The violent arrests, traumatic, mass and no charge, brief completely illegitimate, outnumber those made during the October Crisis, Quebec, and 1970. But 1970, mailboxes exploded, a minister had been kidnapped. Instead, this time, experts agree that there was no terrorist threat and that Heads of State were never in danger. The security fence was never even contested, as was the case in Quebec 2001! In such a context, Was it normal to do so potent repression and arbitrary, goes against human rights recognized by the charters? I do not think. This, phased in by Harper and his Conservative government, is of greater concern. The Canadians can no longer take them and they live in a true democracy since this weekend.
And finally, I retain that Harper will probably have lost his bet. Why? Officially, Harper insisted that the G20 is being held in Toronto, to give publicity to the Queen City and to increase its tourism. Failure : the U.S. have advised their citizens to avoid Toronto for the G20, Media worldwide have described Canada as a totalitarian state where the police are brutal and does not ensure safety, on the contrary! Marketing side, it is a big zero.
For its part, Toronto Mayor was in turn strongly disagree with this decision, long ago : Harper closed his mouth. Why? Perhaps precisely because he wanted to convey a message to all these groups that would meet there to challenge the changes in our society that coordinates : "Shut your mouth! He comes to international economic stability? "Ta gueule l'économiste progressif». It is about the rights of women in developing countries, particularly in access to abortion? "Shut the feminist (and also feminist) ». It is about exploitation of nature for economic purposes? "Ta gueule l'écologiste». Brief, citizens, close to you that, otherwise it is the baton : that is the message we send Stephen Harper seems. And this is what message we send Steven Blainey, his lieutenant in Quebec, and his gang of neo-liberal indoctrinated, Hypocrites and religiously conservative than some of our citizens have been naive enough to elect at the last election and working, since, with high motivation, to frustrate our society, our culture and economy. It also should remember, at the next election.
And most importantly, is that if you do not want the message Harper is paying off, works, affects our collective mind, Well it will act the next time. Even now! Whether it is sending letters to newspapers, by speaking at forums on the radio, by becoming a member of a civic organization that promotes the common good (feminism, Environment, Social Justice, to fight poverty, protection of our civil liberties, etc.), advocating and even openly defending the independence of Quebec! You can even become a member of Québec solidaire : yes yes, you can! This is not the only way to combat these neoliberal capitalists who want to keep slave-consumer, but I swear it is one that is effective these days!
We must not let Harper win. We have too much to lose, in Quebec, in Canada, than the rest of our small planet. And we have so much to gain if we mobilize!
They can break your bones, but they CAN’T break your mind !
They can kill the protesters, but they CAN’T kill the protest !