The following is my attempt to create an accurate account of what occurred in my life Sunday, June 27th, 2010. I have tried to write everything down exactly as I remember to the best of my ability.
Sunday, June 27
Sunday morning after breakfast we decided to go to the 2pm Prayer Vigil. We left Ted’s house around 1:30 pm, walking towards St. James Anglican Church where the prayer vigil began.
On the way, our streetcar was forced to stop due to hundreds of bikes taking part in the Critical Mass biking protest. We got off and walked against the current of bikes, moving to the sidewalk as a line of police bikes formed to guide the protester bicyclists.
We arrived at St. James Church at 2:10pm and joined the prayer vigil as it slowly walked down King Street. During the walk, I remember thinking how fitting it was that my shirt read “peace” in English, Hebrew and Arabic. It was good to observe that the police guiding the vigil along were dressed in the normal police outfit and seemed quite interactive and talkative. This civil conversation between civilians and those, like the police, who can be easily dehumanized when enshrouded in riot gear, helmets and armor, was great to see.
When we reached the corner of Bay St. and King St. the leaders of the vigil sat down opposite a wall of police that were blocking the way south on Bay Street. The protestors formed a circle around the leaders of the vigil. A 5 by 8 piece of fabric that read, “Don’t fence us out”, acted as the backdrop to the four main leaders. It depicted a picture of the fence that was erected in downtown Toronto around the G20 security perimeter with words written on it representing issues that were being addressed through prayer. Straining my ears to hear above the jostle of about 200 people at the event, I heard the litany of prayers being read by the leaders sitting on the ground: “Dear Jesus, we pray for those who face economic injustice everyday”, “we pray for the leaders of the G20”, “we pray that peaceful solutions to conflict be sought”, “we pray for those whose lives are afflicted by violence”. At one point, they read the beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount from the book of Matthew in the Bible. Many bystanders came and joined the circle as the vigil continued through prayer, song and scripture. A little ways down the street a man with a mega phone started talking about the G20. His witty and humorous manner attracted some of the bystanders and some of the press, who left the prayer vigil and went to listen to him as we continued to pray.
I looked around me and saw maybe 200 people sitting and standing on the pavement wishing for a better world and praying for those whose lives were hard.
“We should pass the peace or something,” my friend, Laura, suggested.
“That’s a great idea, see if you can suggest it to the leaders of the event” I replied.(“Passing the peace” is a common faith practice during many Christian worship services in which people great each other with the words “Peace be with you” and a hand shake or hug.)
I looked around me and saw the line of police blocking off Bay Street from the public. They had formed when the vigil first began to walk down Bay towards the far off Fence. Behind the wall of police bodies was a bus, several police vans and around 3 or 4 mounted police.
I wonder how many police we are paying to come to church. Why don’t I find out? Then I could have a good account in my journal latter. So many of the numbers this weekend are roughly estimated, it would be nice to know for once. I thought.
“Laura I’ll be right back I’m interested in counting how many police there are here,” I said. I walked by the police line remaining in the crowd as I counted. 150.
Not wanting to interrupt the readings going on, I walked up to Natasha, one of my friends who came to Toronto with me, and I showed her my 10 fingers 15 times, whispering, “so there is about 150 police and around 250 people in the prayer vigil”. As the vigil continued, the person holding up the middle of the backdrop banner got tired of holding it so I volunteered to hold the banner. Every several minutes I switched arms as they tired from being raised.
I looked around me and saw a crowd continue to gather and listen to the man who liked shouting into a mega phone across the street.
“We are going to go check out that guy.” Laura and Natasha said. “Ok,” I replied, “I’ll stay here; I want to make sure the vigil continues getting support.” When they returned several minutes later, I asked, “Laura, did you end up talking about passing the peace to the leaders?”
“Yes, one was for it but the head organizer of the event didn’t want to change what they had already planned. But we could still do it,” she replied.
We decided that everyone could do with a blessing of peace. We asked other people nearby if they were interested. One guy with dreads, and a girl decided to do it with us. The six of us (Natasha, Ted, Laura, the guy with dreads, the girl, and I) approached the end of the police line. It was about 4:10 pm. We stood facing the police, creating two parallel lines: a line of enforcers and a line of people of faith. Looking into the eyes of the police about three feet in front of me, I cleared my mind. I focused on thoughts of peace and hope.
You must see so much violence in your job. Maybe this will help you see that people, ordinary people care for you and wish you peace, love and forgiveness as another human being regardless of what you have witnessed, have done or will do. I hope my feelings of peace and love enshroud you as you try and cope with a violent occupation. I thought.
We cupped our hands as if offering water and said, “Peace be with you.”
Shuffling sideways on the crowded street corner I looked again into the next officer’s eyes: “Peace be with you.” “Peace be with you.” “Peace be with you.” “Peace be –
Quick. Cold. Rough. Two police seized me by the arms and pulled me off.
“Am I being arrested or detained?” I asked as I willingly followed their tugs and pushes.
“Don’t talk. Shut up.” The police officers replied.
The clock moved one second. I found myself behind the bus, face forced against the exhaust covered metal, body held by officers, immobile.
Then they began giving me instructions:
“Take off your shoes.”
“Officer, can I know why you are holding me?” I asked. They took my backpack from me and emptied it on the street.
“You are being arrested for carrying a concealed weapon,” they said. “You have the right to remain silent and talk with a lawyer. Do you understand?” (The three police holding me against the bus said something quickly but I do not remember it well enough to recount it accurately. It was something like “You have the right to remain silent.”)
What? I thought. What could I possibly have that would be a weapon? My arms forced behind my back, zip tie cuffs dug into my wrists, though I barely noticed with the adrenaline coursing through me. I stood there, shoeless, thinking about what I had on me.
My pockets: twenty dollars and fifty cents, a notebook, a pencil, a pamphlet, a camera, a green handkerchief and a pair of swim goggles in my back pocket. No weapons there I thought.
My backpack: clothes, papers, a cd, books. Oh no, I bet I forgot to take out my pocketknife.
It was all thrown on the ground.
The police officers said, “Why are you wearing black? Why were you making gang signs? You are a fucking anarchist aren’t you? Thought you would bring a knife today, did you? We know you were motioning to the guy up the street with the green shirt. We see everything. Our cameras are everywhere. We got your friends. That other guy and the girl.”
They marched me hidden behind them across Bay street and sat me down behind a bus shelter making sure I was not visible from the prayer vigil.
“What are your names?” I asked.
I thought: God help me be a light to these people. I can’t believe I’m arrested. Well, now I guess I really get an opportunity to give these people peace.
The police officers continued the tirade: “You know you are the problem. You come to our city. Make us work for 11 days straight. I haven’t seen my kids in a week. What the fuck do you think you are achieving? Just chaos.”
“Ma’am, I am not an anarchist. I am here for the prayer vigil. I believe in peace. Read my shirt,” I answered.
“I don’t care what’s on your shirt,” the police officer said. “Its people like you that should just get out of here so we can all return to our normal calm lives.”
Another officer walked up to me with a paper. “What is your name?” he asked.
“Joshua Enns, Sir. E n n s.” I spelled it out for him.
“Your address?” He continued…
My details were taken down as I sat without shoes or bag, leaning against a bus shelter. The zip ties began to make their painful presence known on my wrists. I sat for an hour while many police walked by.
“You are lucky you’re back here. Shit is about to go down. We are going to run over your friends. Here come the horses,” said the female officer that was watching me.
A bunch of mounted cops passed me on the street. Vans pulled up. Police got out and started to put on layer after layer of what looked like hockey equipment. Then riot helmets. A different officer came to take over watching me.
“Can I pray for you before you go?” I asked the officers who had arrested me before they left. I thought: Maybe I can still get across that I am a supporter for peace and love and help these people experience some care.
“Keep your fucking prayers for yourself,” one of the officers said.
“What about you?” I asked the other officer.
“No way… who do you think you are?” She replied.
They left me with two new officers, who moved me under a building out of the rain, which had just started spitting. I asked for my shoes since my feet were cold. I was denied.
Eventually another officer came, saying he had the pickup. It was about 5:00 p.m. They marched south down Bay street towards the fence. We turned a corner. The zip ties were cut. An officer held me by the arm. Another took a picture.
It had become cloudy. A girl in a red shirt walked by. She saw me and motioned with her camera, as if asking my consent to take a picture. “Please do”, I said. One of the officers approached her. “Get out of here,” he said. She quickly took the picture and the boy she was walking with hurried her away before the police got closer. She felt sorry for me. I felt it. I thought: Thank-you woman in red.
My hands were re-cuffed in the front with metal cuffs. I received a pink wristband reading my new name: 0405.
“Get in the truck.” The officer said. I got in. It looked like the inside of an oven, about six feet long, 4 feet wide, and five feet high. A tiered like surface acted as a bench. It was all solid silver metal. Cold metal. The door was shut. It had small circles that emitted light through the metal frame. I felt like I was in an oven.
A Shiny, metallic, and heartless oven.
The van drove backwards, back up Bay Street. It parked next to the bus shelter I had sat at earlier. The outer door was opened so I could get air through metal holes the diameter of my thumb.
“Officer, can you let me go to the washroom? I have to go pee.” I asked.
“No, there are no washrooms around here,” he replied.
“Sir, earlier we passed a subway that was open just a street down during the prayer vigil. You could escort me there,” I tried again.
“You are not allowed to go to the bathroom now; you will have to hold it,” he said.
So I began to hold it. I waited, holding my urine. My world was defined by the small circles of light that gave me glimpses of outside.
I sat and waited inside my oven. As officers walked by I continued to ask, “Can you let me go to the washroom? I have to pee badly.” I began to shake. The mantra I was to own began to take form as I thought: I have to pee. I have to pee. I have to pee. Hold it. Hold it. Hold it. I have to pee. I have to pee. I have to pee…
Clang! The outer door shut. We started moving.
We drove around for a long time. My body ached from holding my urine. My abdomen started contracting and releasing. I don’t know if I can hold it, I thought. What if there is a camera in here? I can’t just pee on the floor. Maybe they would charge me for peeing on public property. I have to pee. I have to pee. Hold it. Hold it. I have to pee.
I wet myself. The urine dripped out of my shorts and down my legs falling to the metallic floor.
Why did I drink so much water today…ugh. Ok, now try to stop peeing. Hold the rest in. I thought to myself.
The van kept driving. My left sock and my shorts were wet. I shook my legs to try and make the wetness evaporate. There was a small pool on the floor in the corner of my metal box.
Creek. The outer door opened.
“Come on. Hey, let’s put the other guy in here. No wait he is soiled. We will put him in the other van,” I heard an officer say.
“I’m sorry officer, I could not hold it and I peed in the back of your vehicle. Could we find a bathroom so I can clean up and finish peeing? I still have to go,” I pleaded.
“You got to do what you got to do. Get in this truck,” the officer responded.
“Shalom. Peace.” The prisoner in my new metal box introduced himself by reading my shirt. Clang! The outer door shut. This oven did not have light like the first one. The air was already slightly stale.
“What is your name, friend?” The other prisoner asked.
He had seen a woman pushed over onto her child by a police officer and had gone to help her up when he was arrested by the officer for obstruction. He also had to go pee. He figured he had been in the metal container for about an hour. We bumped along in the oven and talked to each other, sharing a bit about ourselves to keep away the silence and fear.
8:53 pm. The digital clock under the bridge glared as the door opened again and another person was forced into the police wagon. “Hello.” “Hello.” “Hi, are you ok? My name is Joshua…” I said as we introduced ourselves again.
“We have to go pee. Can you please take us to the detention center so we can pee?” I asked the officer. Clang! The outer door shut.
It was getting hot. It was a sauna. A metal cased sauna. The air was stale. I could tell that my shorts were beginning to smell faintly of dried urine. It was raining outside. Ting. Ting. Ting. The drops echoed off the roof of our box. I started shaking again, trying to pinch off the pee that was still sitting in my bladder waiting to be released.
The van continued. The muffled sound of a giant garage door opening was music to my ears as we slowed down. The walls of our oven were covered in moisture. The guy next to me wrote ‘Yay?’ on the metal wall with his finger. We were slowly cooking in our oven.
Ting. Ting. Ting. The sound slowly faded as we drove inside and the van parked. But the door did not open. I remained shaking and praying that this time I would be able to hold my urine.
“Ddling. Ddling. Ddling.” The metallic sound of a police officer drumming his nails on the outside of our metal box. The door still did not open.
We waited in darkness. I waited. Every so often, the sound of shouts and metal cages being shaken reached our ears like the sound of far off thunder.
“Creak.” The door opened. They took off my metal cuffs and put zip ties back on my wrists. I was led into a metal cage. There was a portable toilet. I walked straight to it. Exuberant. It was 10:10pm. I had been in the back of the vehicle for about 5 hours. One of the hardest things I have done in my life was stopping my body from shaking in order to delicately maneuver my wrists to get at my zipper. Finally it was done. I was relieved. I didn’t even notice that the portable toilet had no door.
“Hi, Joshua, right?” said a guy in my cage. I had met him Kitchener since he was a part of the KW community Centre for Social Justice. In the cage were four people on the cement floor. 4 people on the metal bench. 14 people standing. 1 person pacing. 2 people leaning against the caging. Introductions began. One man told me he had been in the cage for 30 hours, unable to sleep. He said he had only got about two Styrofoam cups of water and one sandwich (which meant two pieces of bread, one slice of Kraft singles and butter). Another would wake up every so often and call out, “I have to go to the hospital”, before drifting back to sleep on the cold cement floor. Five were from Montreal.
“I can’t believe how the cops treated us. We thought racism against French people was long gone”, the people from Montreal said. “The police told us to go back to ‘fucking Quebec with our French friends’, that ‘there is no room in Ontario for you fucking frenchies’”, they recounted.
Police walked by the cage calling names. Everyone wanted their name to be called because then they took you out of the cage and somewhere else.
Someone in another cage was asking, “Please officer, I need my meds.” No one paid attention. Prisoners started chanting, “she needs her meds. She needs her meds.” No one paid attention. The cages started rattling, “SHE NEEDS HER MEDS.” Everyone screamed it. Finally, they took her away to cheers from her cage.
Several people in my cell were taken away. Before leaving, they would go around and bring their cuffed hands up to touch fists with everyone. It was a powerful goodbye.
“We need water. We need water.” The chant began. Other prisoners informed me it had been at least 5 hours since they had last got a bit of water. The police came around. Told us to stop shouting and slowly went to each cage with one Styrofoam cup of water for each person and a ‘sandwich’. I ate and drank. The food made me feel bad but it was energy I told myself. I was cold and wet. We saved cups and sandwiches for the three or four people on the ground.
I walked around, saying a few words here and there with inmates. One guy was from Iran. I wished peace to all of them. I was cold. A guy with long black hair offered me his boots to stay warm. I declined. He is probably cold too, I thought.
We talked about not getting a phone call. One of the prisoners wrote the number for the movement defence pro bono lawyers on my arm for me.
The lights were very bright, so I waited, unable to sleep. I enjoyed practicing my French with the Quebecers as I shivered in my damp clothes on the concrete floor.
12:01 am. “It is my birthday,” one of the inmates announced, “I am now 32.” We celebrated with him wishing him a prosperous year. Several hours later, my name was called. I was taken out of the cage.
“Good evening, Sir.” I addressed the cop pulling me by the arm. I passed multiple cells of people lying about. Cold. Tired. Some held each other. Some were trying to sleep.
I was taken into a room with an officer behind a desk.
“Hello, Sir.” I said.
I don’t remember much of what was said in that office. The officer let me know we were on camera in the room and that we were being recorded. He informed me of some rights I had and asked me a couple of basic questions, such as “Do you have anything in your pockets?” Then he told me the two officers who had taken me into the room would take me to another room to strip search me. They took me to a small room with a curtain for a door. The key turned and they took my cuffs off.
The two police officers gave instructions while standing about two feet away, watching me:
“Take off your shirt”
“Take off your shorts”
“We are going to have to cut your shorts to take your belt away. You are not allowed to have anything that can hurt you or others in the cell and your belt is sown into the shorts.”
“Please don’t wreck my shorts Sir. I would like to be able to wear them again,” I said.
“Ok. We will see if we can find you something to wear,” they responded. The officers continued:
“Take off your boxers.”
“Turn around and face the wall.”
“Lift your sack.”
“Spread your legs.”
“Spread your checks.”
“Ok. Put your clothes back on. Here is a pair of sweats you can wear.”
I was led back to the office. The police officer behind the desk showed me what was in my bag of personals and re-bagged it reporting that there was $20.50 in it. It was missing about half of my stuff that I had been led to believe was kept with the officer who arrested me for evidence.
“Have a good evening sir,” I said, trying to send waves of intentional peace and love to the policeman in the office as other officers took me down the hall to go through a metal detector. I was put in a slightly smaller cage with about 12 people in it.
My handcuffs taken off, I rubbed the feeling back into my raw wrists. “Do you need any food? We have sandwiches. What about water? We saved some in case people needed it,” my new cellmates asked. The 12 people in this cell were very friendly and considerate. Introductions occurred. Again, there were five people from Montreal. They had been awakened Sunday morning and told at gunpoint that they were being arrested.
“We were sleeping and the cops came in and shouted. Put guns to our faces. There were 70 of us just sleeping when we were arrested. They said racist things to us about being French,” one of them told me.
This cage had a question mark on the chain fence made from empty Styrofoam cups. One person was from Kitchener. He had nice looking dreads with bits of colorful cloth attached. He had been approached on the street by an officer who had said, “You are the guy who attacked me yesterday. You are being arrested for assault.”
“I never attacked a police officer. That is crazy. You have the wrong guy. They arrested me because I looked like someone else and have dreads,” he explained to me.
To pass the time we talked about politics, voting methodology, philosophy. Several people explained their political views, quoting various philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato and Hegel.
After a while, I curled into a ball and tried to sleep on the cold cement floor.
“Enns, Joshua Enns.” My friends woke me up. I was to be taken to get my phone call. Earlier, after the strip search, I had been told, “You will be able to call a lawyer and family to let them know where you are”. Re-cuffed and led by the arm like a dog, they took me to a room with at least six pay phones. There was one other prisoner in the room using a phone. At least five were free. I went into a phone booth and began to dial the number on my arm.
“You want to call this number…” The police officer standing next to me said. Disgruntled and tired, I hung up before I finished dialing and called the number he told me would get me a lawyer. I got a secretary.
“Sorry the lawyer has gone home…” I hung up and started dialing the number on my arm.
“Too bad. You are only allowed one call. Time is up, there are too many people waiting.” The police officer said as he started steering me out of the phone booth.
“But there are 4 empty phone booths. Give me just a minute so I can call a lawyer,” I pleaded.
“No. Let s go,” The officer said.
I was taken back to the cage. Sometime later, a police detective came and motioned me to the corner of the cage. He said,
“Joshua, I can get you out of here on bail. I’ve looked at your case. You will be out of here by morning. You just have to agree to bail terms. Probably something like not being in Toronto until august 23rd when you will have to come back for a court hearing. Does that sound good to you?”
“That’s ok. I’d like to talk to a lawyer though. Also, can I just go to the court today so I don’t have to come back on the 23rd? I am hoping to go to Winnipeg this summer after school finishes to see my sister,” I replied.
“So you agree to the terms. I’ll write it up and get you out of here,” he said as he started to walk away.
“Um, but what about that date, could I just stay here and go to court now… I guess you could write up the terms and I’ll read them over,” I said. The detective left. I tried to sleep. The cold floor made sleeping unbearable. The people from Montreal and I decided to run in circles around the guy from Kitchener with dreads who was meditating in the middle of the cage. We ran, laughing at how tired, dehydrated, and cold we were. “En arrière,” we went backwards. “Une pied,” we hopped in a circle. After 10 minutes of this, we were so tired we collapsed laughing. More time passed.
“Mooooooo”, the sound of someone in a different cage somewhere making farm animal noises reached my ears. All of a sudden, it did not just look like we were at a zoo, in cages. It did not just feel like it. It sounded like it. People started making all sorts of animal sounds. “Nhay, Caw, Roof…” We were quite a motley crew of animals. One of the prisoners, a 17 year old, stood up and farted at a passing police officer.
I stood against the cage and listened. I thought: Wow. It is so unjust that we are locked in cages. Given so little water and food while police officers get coffee and granola bars. It is sad to see the people here turning to cold humor to stay sane. I don’t understand why these people are in jail. They have all been nice to me. They are people, not animals. They have not killed people. They have not even hurt people. Maybe one or two people I have talked to, out of the fifty or so since being in here, have damaged public property. Maybe a couple people were chanting ‘fuck you’ at the police when they were arrested. But they have been hurt. We have been degraded physically. We have been destabilized emotionally. We have been treated without love, respect or justice. Hahaha, I was arrested for saying peace be with you. God help me to continue to care and respect the people here. The police and the inmates. They are all human and all deserve to be loved.
Probably around four in the morning I was taken with the organic farm worker from Kitchener who had dreads to another smaller cage. We sat quietly. I prayed in my head. God be with this man. Be with all of the inmates here. Be with all the police. Come and bring peace and love. Please be with my friends Laura, Ted, Selah, Dylan, Natty. Help them to not be worried about me. Be with my parents, my sister, my grandparents. As I prayed, the other guy sat. His legs were crossed. He looked like he was meditating. After a time he was taken from the cage. I was left alone.
The words of the Servant Song came into my mind: “Brother, Sister let me serve you. Let me be as Christ to you.”I began to sing. I sang the song several times. I sang to the police. I sang to myself. I sang to the walls. Softly I sang.
Eventually I was taken to another office room.
“Sit down,” said the officer.
“Thank-you, Sir,” I replied.
“Joshua, we are going to take some finger prints of you and pictures here. Is that ok?” The police officer asked.
“Yes. How is your shift going?” I asked.
“Ok. So, do exactly what I say. I am an expert fingerprint taker,” he said with a hint of humour in his voice as he took my fingerprints. The other police in the room were talking about hockey. Light banter.
It washed over me as I stood there.
I was tired. “What do you think of the Calgary flames?” the officers said to each other.
I was hungry. “Did you see Montreal lose in the playoffs?” they continued.
I was dehydrated. “Do you think they will keep their goalie?” one of the officers asked another.
I tried to be helpful and stood still as I was processed. “We will see when trading starts up. I think he will be signed.” Ignoring me, the officers finished their conversation.
The pictures finished. I was taken to another cell. “You will be out in a couple of minutes,” a police officer said as he walked away. I was alone again. I began to sing to pass the time.
“Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya…
Someone’s singing Lord, kumbaya…
Someone’s loving Lord, kumbaya…
Someone’s praying Lord, …”
I sung words as they came, bits and pieces from worship songs I knew.
“Here by the water
I’ll build an altar to praise Him…”
Woah baby, let my people go…”
I thought: I feel like Paul and Silas. Singing in prison. At least it takes my mind away from the cold floor, the hunger, the thirst.
Several hours passed. At 10 a.m. They took me to sign my bail.
“Before you meet with the constable I want to make sure you are ready to sign your bail,” a police officer said.
“Well, I’m not sure what the terms are yet. Also, I would like to talk to a lawyer to make sure I am aware of my situation,” I responded.
“You have to decide. If you are not ready to sign, I can take you back to the cell. But you won’t get a chance again,” the police officer stated.
“I guess I am willing to look at the terms and go over them,” I replied.
“Good choice. We will get you out of here and you can call whoever you want then,” he said.
“But do you think you could take me to the place with the phones so I can call a lawyer while we wait for the constable,” I asked.
“If you want to talk to a lawyer we will go do that,” the officer answered.
“Where are you taking him?” Another officer asked.
“He wants to phone a lawyer. So I’m taking him back,” was the reply from the officer leading me by the arm.
The second officer said, “You know you won’t get a chance at bail again. You won’t get a lawyer. You should just sign your terms and get out of here.”
“Thank-you for the advice. I would like to talk to a lawyer just to make sure I understand the process properly,” I stated.
They took me back to the cell. (This next bit of conversation might not have occurred in this order but I remember all the words being said around this point in the morning). Another police officer came by and said, “You’re stupid. You should just sign the bail.”
“I am willing to; I just want to talk to a lawyer first. Can you take me to the phone?” I asked.
“You will have to wait. If you want to talk to a lawyer we can’t take you back through the building so we will take you to a prison where you will be able to phone. But you will not be given the bail option again and it will probably be a week or two before you get to court. You could be in jail up to a month,” an officer said to me.
I thought: I’m tired. It is hard to think straight. I might as well see if I can look at the bail terms.
“What happens if I sign bail?” I inquired.
“You are released and come back later to court. So it’s no different from waiting in prison, aside from the fact that you are out of here today,” an officer replied.
The constable was walking around and heard the conversation. Coming over, he said I did not have to sign the bail to be released, just verbally agree. This felt better to me so I said ok. I also asked him if I could talk it over with a lawyer. He said he would explain it clearly enough for me to understand what I was agreeing to. He left and then, several minutes later, came back with the papers. Then he read over the terms and took me to his office to finish the process.
Again, in this office he announced we were on film. Then he read the papers to me. Seeing nothing ridiculous, I said that I could do that and initialed next to the terms.
– Notify Detective Cst Lamplugh of any change in address, employment or occupation
– Not have in your possession any weapon, prohibited device, ammunition. Not be within the area bounded by Bloor Street to the North, Lake Ontario to the South, Don River to the East, and the Humber River to the West, except for the purposes of travelling through Toronto by VIA train enroute to Winnipeg
At this point, I was very tired. They had several other questions they asked me while I was on video:
“You were in good physical condition when you entered the detainment center. Joshua, are you still in decent physical condition?” I thought: Well, I am not bleeding, I don’t have to go pee, I can walk, no sprains, I don’t think I’m really hurt. So I guess I’m good. “Yes,” I affirmed. Thinking that maybe I should have said I am hungry, cold, sleep deprived, dehydrated, and dirty. Maybe I should have said I had not been offered new socks or the chance to wash since I wet myself over 15 hours earlier.
Then they took me to the back of the building.
A garage door opened. 11:30 a.m. It was sunny outside. I wished the police a good afternoon as he led me to the fence and let me out of the parking lot.
“Whoo!” Cheers and clapping greeted me. Volunteers had fresh food. Blankets. Phone numbers. Support people. Wow, it is amazing how much people can love others, I thought. Thank you God for these people here, I prayed.
I ate food and rested. I felt like I was able to share my story so I talked to the press that was there. I was encouraged to write a quick reflection down for my own recollection later. “You are safe. Take time to rest. To eat. Try to write something down to make sure you remember,” someone said. After clothing my feet with shoes, resting, and writing, I got a ride from a volunteer back to Ted’s house.
“Ted?” I inquired from the door.
“Hey. You’re out!” he said. It was a very good hug.
After a wonderful weekend filled with time with friends and at protests, listening to poetry and eating delicious food, I went to a prayer vigil Sunday afternoon. I “passed the peace” to the police and was seized, and forced against a bus. Upon finding a pocket knife in my backpack, that I use to cut fruit and bread which I had forgotten was with me, I was told I was being arrested for carrying a concealed weapon.
Then by the police:
I was carted around in a metal cased trunk for 5 hours. I wet myself. No compassion was shown to me. I was sworn at. I was manhandled. I was photographed. I tried to bring peace to others. I was held in cages. I was strip searched. I was kept in cold and harsh conditions. I was unable to sleep. I was told conflicting things. I was denied the opportunity to talk to a lawyer. I was fingerprinted. I was given a number before a name. I was treated without care by most of the officers. I felt like I was manipulated. I was released 19 hours after being arrested.
In contrast, by the prisoners, civilians, and protestors:
I was asked my name. I was offered food. I was offered clothes. I was offered conversation. I was offered love. I felt respected. I felt loved. I was befriended. I was given blankets. I was given hugs. I was given space. I was given a voice.
The memories shared and the gifts received by common people striving for a better society will be what I take pride in recalling. While the story of injustice that happened needs to be heard and understood, it is important to recognize that this happens every day with the homeless and the disadvantaged in our society. What needs to be shared now and recognized by the media and everyone is that during the G20 weekend there was an organized community formed of people who recognized problems in our current system and are searching for a better world. People provided food for each other and cared for each other. Community was created from nothing more than the shared view that people want a world where people come first. The community shared the idea that a world where all people are treated with respect and are given space to live out their chosen lifestyles should be our goal above and before economic profit for the few. Ted said to me, “The streets of Toronto have never been so full of life the way it was meant to be.” I saw people trying to come together. People trying to speak out about the problems they have observed with how we are running our world. People who hope to make it better. I saw people who love the earth. I saw people who tried to give everyone a voice. It was not perfect but what I saw, in many ways, was much better than how we run our society now.
The G20 in the end was not about fighting rich people who make decisions. On the streets of Toronto and in prison, I saw from the actions of the people that:
It was about coming together to strive to improve our world and giving everyone a chance to be heard.
It was about people putting people first.
It was about people recognizing that we are part of a common and diverse humanity.
I hope these things continue to inspire and bring about social change both in policy and in the lives of those who hope to improve the world we live in.