G20 Protests and Human Rights; Amnesty International Canada Calls for an Independent Review into G20 Security Measures

This blogger was really tired today trying to keep up with all the news. Following are some news articles from this morning, highlights from them, and some updates relating to these stories:

“Two Post photographers arrested at G20 protest”

Brett Gundlock, a staff photographer for the Post, was tackled and taken away by several police officers in riot gear as they attempted to disperse protesters hanging around near the Ontario legislature.

Kier Gilmour, a photographer for Canwest News Service who witnessed the arrest, said the officers knocked Mr. Gundlock to the ground and then dragged him away. He had been standing with several other media photographers at the time.

“They slammed him down, onto his ass so to speak, then they dragged him back up and pulled him back to the police line,” Mr. Gilmour said.

Gilmour reported that the police were “being very aggressive in trying to disperse the remaining demonstrators near Queen’s Park” and that “The protesters were not doing anything violent or provocative at the time”"

“G20 police let rioters run amok and then struck back hard at all activists”

The police knew that they should focus their energies on the Black Bloc, especially so late on Saturday afternoon.

But when the rioters came smashing their way up the main street of Toronto, the police disappeared for half an hour.

It would appear that the security forces allowed this riot to happen in order to justify the $1 billion which appeared to have been wasted on security measures in Huntsville and Toronto.

They must not be allowed to discredit those of us who protested peacefully.

We must hold this government responsible for wasting $1 billion dollars on security measures, and then trying to justify it by allowing people to riot. [Cass' note: emphasis added]

“Guardian journalist Jesse Rosenfeld beaten and arrested by Toronto police at G20″

8 p.m. EST Sunday. Update: Jesse Rosenfeld has been released from custody, says family, and is doing well.

Many have been greatly concerned for journalist Jesse Rosenfeld. Since his assault was witnessed by Steve Paikin of the Agenda, a show on TVO, this story got a good amount of media attention. There was some concern that he may have been missing since he was beaten and no one had heard from him for a while. Early Sunday morning (around 1 or 2), rabble.ca tweeted asking how to get in touch with Paikin as journalist Jesse Rosenfeld was trying to get in touch with him. TVO responded that they made a call to Paikin. Paikin reported in the early afternoon on Sunday that they were still trying to get in touch with Rosenfeld. In the late afternoon, Paikin reported that they had found Rosenfeld. About an hour afterwards, Rosenfeld’s dad expressed his relief on hearing about his, but also concern over his son’s treatment. Below is a chronology of tweets:

rabbleca – Anyone know how to reach Steve Paikin @spaikin ? The reporter he saw assaulted is in jail, needs to reach him ASAP
rabbleca – Thanks tweeps. A producer from TVO got in touch, will make the connection.
AntoniaZ – RT @Kim1811 RT @spaikin: Guardian reporter Jesse Rosenfeld, assaulted by a police officer last night, is still missing. #g20 #g2report
spaikin – jesse rosenfeld, the guardian reporter who was assaulted by a police officer last night, is still missing. have spoken with his father.
spaikin – rosenfeld’s father says he went to the eastern av. holding tank last night but they had no info as to his son’s whereabouts.
spaikin – Jesse has only one kidney and is asthmatic. his dad fears for his health, particularly after the beating he took last night.
spaikin – just heard from julian falconer, civil rights lawyer. guardian reporter jesse rosenfeld has been found
spaikin – jesse rosenfeld’s dad: “We hear he is ok but upset that he has been treated the way he has”.

Torontoist reported on their G20 Live:

5:28 PM: An update regarding Jesse Rosenfeld, the reporter who had been filing stories for the Guardian and was detained last night: he is confirmed to be at the Eastern Avenue detention facility, and is expected to be released from there at about 11 p.m. tonight.
7:06 PM: Jesse Rosenfeld has just been released, a few hours earlier than anticipated.
9:34 PM: From OpenFile, a short interview with Jesse Rosenfeld, the Guardian freelancer who Steve Paikin says he saw assaulted by police officers last night. Rosenfeld was released earlier today.

In “AN INTERVIEW WITH DETAINED JOURNALIST JESSE ROSENFELD”, Christopher Watt reports:

Rosenfeld, a Canadian who usually reports from the Middle East, said he was on the phone with his girlfriend when he was arrested last night.

“They ripped my notebook from my hands,” he said, referring to police.

Rosenfeld also said he wasn’t allowed to make a phone call until 4 p.m. today.

“I was in handcuffs from the point when I was arrested from 10:30 at night to 5:30 in the morning,” he said.

Rosenfeld spent the night in a holding cell that contained no benches, measured five by eight feet and housed six people.

“We all had to sleep on the floor,” he said.

Rosenfeld also stated that detainees were denied proper medical attention.

“A lot of people were beaten,” he said. “I was beaten for absolutely no reason.”

Rosenfeld applied for official media accreditation through the Guardian and planned to write several G20 pieces for the British paper about the summit. He said he thinks police may have targeted him as a result of a comment piece he wrote for the Guardian that spoke of the “apparent systemic racism within both the Mounties [the Royal Canadian Mounted Police] and local police forces.”

He also noted that his request for media accreditation had been denied, which meant he was unable to cover the official summit.

“Now I have this story,” Rosenfeld said.

“G8/G20 Communiqué: Police conduct midnight raids on activists, up to 23 arrested”

Now, we are hearing from the Toronto Community Mobilization Network (TCMN) that 23 activists were arrested during the night – some in cars, some had their doors kicked in by the police in the middle of the night.
The TCMN reported at its press conference that between 15 to 23 (some people are “missing”) were arrested last night: 10-13 CLAC (Convergence Lutte Anti-Capitaliste) members; 2 (NOII) No One Is Illegal and 6-8 SOAR (Southern Ontario Anarchist Resistance).

“Toronto is burning! Or is it?”

People were shocked last night by a city out of control but the Toronto police — without all the huge expenditures, extra police from across the country and sophisticated new toys — have kept the peace in riots with a lot more people and in hundreds of demonstrations much larger and often angry. I disagree with torching police cars and breaking windows and I have been debating these tactics for decades with people who think they accomplish something. But the bigger question here is why the police let it happen and make no mistake the police did let it happen. Why did the police let the city get out of control? And they did let it get out of control. The police knew exactly what would happen and how.

….

But it is the police that let the handful of people using Black Bloc tactics run wild and then used the burning police cars and violent images as a media campaign to convince the people of Toronto that the cost and the excessive police presence was necessary. They knew what would happen and they knew how it would happen. It is the police that bear the responsibility for what happened last night. They were responsible for keeping the peace and they failed to do it.

Finally! Amnesty International Canada (AI Canada) has detailed the same concerns I have and they are asking for an independent review of the security measures put in place this week.

“Toronto and the G8/G20: Peaceful protest suffers amidst heavy security measures & acts of vandalism (Human Rights in Canada blog)”

Yet at a time when human rights need so very much to come to the fore, we have instead witnessed and experienced a curtailment of civil liberties. On the streets, protesters were faced with high fences, new weaponry, massive surveillance, and the intimidating impact of the overwhelming police presence. Combined with uncertainty and worry about unclear powers of arrest, this created an atmosphere in which countless individuals felt unable or too fearful to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and assembly and participate in rallies and other events which would have offered them an opportunity to express their views on a range of important national and international issues.

Lessons must be learned from these events. We call on the Canadian government and the government of the province of Ontario to cooperate in launching an independent review of the security measures that were put in place for the G8 and G20 Summits. The review should include opportunities for public input and the results should be released to the public. Among other issues, the review should consider:

• The impact of security measures, including decisions about the location and venues for the two summits, on the protection of human rights, including the freedoms of expression and assembly.

• The ways in which police operations and the use of legal provisions such as the Public Works Protection Act have impacted the rights of the many thousands of people living, working and operating businesses within and near the G20 security zone.

Lastly, for my readers here is a blog article from charmofthereal that provides more food for thought on the events of this week. Regarding the legality of what’s been happening, charmofthereal writes:

the passing of this law bypassed all democratic legislative procedure. this kind of secret legislation is directly contrary to the canadian “credo” of PEACE, ORDER, and GOOD GOVERNMENT: for laws to be effective and just THEY MUST BE PROMULGATED. otherwise, we have a populace that does not know if what they do is in violation of the state’s policy – or, in an even more terrifying Kafkaesque scenario: the state could, in fact, invent a law on the spot to simply trap someone they thought was a threat …

You really should read the rest of what charmofthereal writes.

~~~C
Your local blogger

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