Civilian body, SIU to probe G20 role of police

July 06, 2010

Henry Stancu

{{GA_Article.Images.Alttext$}}Police arrest a pair of G20 Summit protesters on College Street near Queen’s Park on June 26, 2010. An impartial overseer will be chosen to lead a probe of police conduct during the summit.

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/torontog20summit/article/832542–civilian-body-siu-to-probe-g20-role-of-police

STEVE RUSSELL/TORONTO STAR

The province’s special investigations unit has begun probing five allegations that police caused serious injury to civilians during the summit.

It is unclear whether civilian or police information led to the investigation, with more details promised Wednesday.

“We’re currently looking into details surrounding those interactions” and speaking with witnesses, SIU spokesperson Monica Hudon said Tuesday. She would not say which police force or forces, of many drawn into G20 security, are involved in the allegations. The SIU can probe only the officers who work in Ontario, Hudon said, which includes municipal forces and the OPP but not the RCMP.

On the same day, a Toronto police services board meeting calling for an independent civilian review of the way G20 security was handled drew heated response from many people who came to vent about their treatment during the summit.

Thinking their voices would be heard at Tuesday’s hastily called special session at police headquarters, many shouted their objections after board chair Alok Mukherjee announced his recommendation that an impartial civilian overseer be chosen to conduct the review.

The chair said those in the rowdy gathering had “no automatic right to speak” at this venue, and that complaints should be filed in the form of written deputations.

Tuesday’s meeting came surprisingly soon after vice-chair Pam McConnell suggested a “cooling off” period last week. Other members, as well as Chief Bill Blair, said they felt more time was needed before a summit post-mortem should be conducted.

Board members agreed just two days after the summit closed that discussion of a civilian review should begin “with a proposal for a process for the board to exercise its civilian oversight responsibilities” by the next monthly meeting. The speeded-up process means an independent reviewer will be chosen in time for that July 22 meeting, at which time the board will also hear complaints from citizens who have filed written deputations.

It was clear, however, that many people aggrieved by what happened during the summit are impatient to be heard sooner.

“This is a public meeting and I think I have the right to speak, as others do as well. I’m talking about transparency and accountability that starts right here,” said John Sewell, who heads up the Toronto Police Accountability coalition.

Others who packed the meeting began heckling as Mukherjee and fellow board members tried to explain this meeting was to announce the framework of the review and that the forum would come later after deputations from the public were received by the board.

Blair, Mukherjee and other board members left the meeting without pausing to answer reporters’ questions, as they often do following board meetings.

City Councillor and board member Adam Vaughan did, however, stay to explain the slow and complex process of the review.

“It’s been a very tumultuous time in the city, and we all need to afford each other patience and an opportunity to proceed fairly. I recognize, for some people, the need to speak is immediate and urgent,” he said.

“The issue is the terms of reference we presented publicly. The public will have a chance to weigh in on those terms of reference and to assess their strengths and weaknesses and give us recommendations and then we’ll make a decision on them as a board,” Vaughan said.

The recommendations state that the independent reviewer will have about 12 weeks to complete the review, with the power to question board and police policy and analyze all police actions relating to G20 security.

“It’s certainly a step in the right direction,” said Nathalie Des Rosiers, counsel general with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, an organization that attended yesterday’s police board meeting.

“The mandate (of the review) must give access to files not only within the Toronto police but, if possible, access to the security-protected files and the information that was obtained from CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service). We don’t know if it is possible, but it should certainly be looked at.”

Des Rosiers said anyone who feels he or she was mistreated by police during the G20 summit has the right to lodge a complaint.

Written deputations must be received no later than five working days before the July 22 police board meeting. It must be signed and contain a presentation outline, with each individual’s or group’s presentation limited to five minutes. The presentations will be videotaped as part of the regular board meeting.

Deputations can be emailed to the attention of the Toronto Police Board Administrator at board@tpsb.ca, or deirdre.williams@tpsb.ca, or mailed to the TPSB Administrator at 40 College St., Toronto, M5G 2J3, or dropped off at the front desk of Toronto Police Headquarters at that address.

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2 thoughts on “Civilian body, SIU to probe G20 role of police

  1. votejohnrichardson Post author

    Kenyon Wallace, National Post · Tuesday, Jul. 6, 2010

    Toronto — A 57-year-old amputee says he was “brutalized” and “humiliated” by police patrolling the G20 summit when they confiscated his prosthetic leg, labelled it a “weapon” and ordered him to “hop” into a paddy wagon.

    John Pruyn, a Revenue Canada employee from Thorold, Ont., was in Toronto on June 26 with his wife and daughter to participate in the peaceful Canadian Labour Congress march and rally.

    In the early evening, Mr. Pruyn and his 24-year-old daughter, Sarah, were sitting on the lawn of the provincial legislature — the so-called “designated speech area” — waiting to meet Mr. Pruyn’s wife, Susan, from whom the pair had become separated during the afternoon march.

    At the same time, a line of police began advancing on the crowd of protesters, most of whom Mr. Pruyn says were simply relaxing on the grass.

    “The police came up to us and said, ‘Move!’ so I tried to get up,” said Mr. Pruyn, who lost his left leg above the knee 17 years ago in a farming accident.

    “I fell back down and my daughter yelled out, ‘Give him time. He’s an amputee.’ I guess the police thought I was taking too long … then all of a sudden the police were on top of me.”

    Mr. Pruyn claims his head was kept on the ground by an officer digging a knee into his left temple while other officers yanked at his arms.

    “One of them was yelling, ‘You’re resisting arrest’, but I wasn’t resisting anything. I couldn’t move.”

    He says police then ordered him to start walking, but when he informed them that he couldn’t get up because his hands were cuffed behind his back, an officer grabbed his prosthetic leg and “yanked it right off.”

    “Then he said, ‘Hop!’ but I told them I couldn’t because it hurts for me to hop on my right leg,” Mr. Pruyn recalled. “Then the cop said, ‘OK, you asked for it’ and two officers grabbed me under my armpits and dragged me away from Queen’s Park towards the police vans.”

    Mr. Pruyn says five Toronto police officers then arrived and carried him the rest of the way, threw him on the ground and allegedly “gave me kicks and little punches and saying I was resisting arrest and that I had a weapon.”

    “None of that was true. I had no weapons or anything like that.”

    Toronto Police spokeswoman Meaghan Gray said the force would not respond to any allegations made by individuals.

    “Certainly if anyone feels they’ve been mistreated by police officers, they can file a complaint either with the Toronto Police Service or the Office of the Independent Police Review Director,” she said.

    After waiting for close to three hours in the back of a paddy wagon, Mr. Pruyn says he was transferred to a bus and taken to the temporary detention centre, where he was given a wheelchair and remained handcuffed in a cell for the next 27 hours. His daughter was also arrested.

    He says he shared the space with another man in a wheelchair who was paralyzed on one side of his body and who had trouble using the portable toilet in the cell. The man begged for access to a regular washroom but his pleadings were ignored.

    “Eventually he ended up soiling his pants and they let him sit there with his pants wet all that time,” Mr. Pruyn said, adding that he was given one styrofoam cup of water, a processed cheese sandwich and no phone call. No one interviewed him or told him why he was being held, he said.

    “I had no idea where they were,” said Susan Pruyn, who made frantic calls to police during the weekend. “John had been asking to make a phone call so at least I would know where he was.”

    Mr. Pruyn and his daughter were released late the following day without charge. While he was given back his prosthetic leg, he says police kept $33 he had in his pocket, his walking sticks and his glasses, which will cost $500 to replace.

    “It was surreal. I couldn’t believe it,” Mr. Pruyn said, adding that he hasn’t yet decided whether to file a formal complaint. “I feel like I’ve been brutalized.”

    Mr. Pruyn’s claims came the same day the Toronto Police Services Board announced the launch of an independent civilian review of police tactics during the G20 summit.

    Board chairman Alok Mukherjee made the recommendation yesterday during a hastily called meeting at Toronto Police headquarters that quickly devolved into a shouting match between board members and dozens of citizens angry over a perceived lack of public involvement.

    “We don’t trust the Police Services Board, who has very close ties to the police, to make the decisions for us,” downtown resident Vanessa Brustolin yelled at board members amid cries of “Shame! Shame!”

    Toronto Mayor David Miller says the review is the “appropriate” way to look at systemic issues that may have arisen during policing of the G20. “Based on what I saw personally, I think the police did a tremendous job like I’ve said repeatedly,” he said. “My understanding is that police used lawful powers they had, I think since Confederation.”

    More than 1,000 people were arrested during the G20, most of them charged with breach of peace and later released. Several people remain behind bars and are awaiting trial.

    National Post

    Read more: http://www.nationalpost.com/news/police+yanked+prosthetic+amputee/3243287/story.html#ixzz0t07Q4jbK

    Reply

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