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06/08/2010

G20 protesters lash out at police 'intimidation tactics'

Activists planning to protest the G20 summit say they won’t be scared into silence by police tactics, which they say include intimidating and threatening visits by police to protesters’ homes and meetings.

Aruna Boodram, a spokeswoman with the Toronto Community Mobilization Network, criticized the police for spending hundreds of millions of dollars on security, fences and “toys” to control and shut down protesters.

“We have a right to live in a city that takes our concerns seriously, to live in a place where police and CSIS agents don’t try to intimidate us and our families,” she said on Tuesday morning, standing before the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Upwards of 40 police officers stood nearby, keeping watch on the event.

“We especially would like to welcome the huge number of cops that we have here on horses, on bikes, waiting in their trucks and vans, and showcasing their intimidation tactics for our community members gathered here today. Thanks for proving our point.”

Greg Thomas, a community worker, warned that the summit will make residents “prisoners in our own city.”

“We can’t go here, we can’t go there. We can’t say that, we can’t do that, we can’t look like that. We can’t go passed King St., we can’t collect $200, we have to go to Philly to watch our baseball team,” he said.

“This is Toronto, not Tiananmen Square.”

Among the most worrisome tactics police have deployed are visits to protesters, homes and workplaces, activists said.

Alex Hundert, a member of the community-based activist group [email protected], said CSIS officers visited his Bloor West home a few weeks ago to talk about Hundert’s intentions during the summit. After he declined to speak and closed the door, the officers lingered on his front step, he said.

Meanwhile, three members of his group who are visible minorities were visited by police in a 24-hour period.

“One (member) had his family’s immigration status threatened by Toronto police,” said Hundert, 30. “I think they’re trying to scare people. They’re trying to make people think it’s not safe to protest and that it’s better to keep quiet.”

Earlier in June, Insp. George Cole, head of the summit’s Integrated Security Unit’s community relations group, told the Star that the ISU was trying to reach out to protesters in any way they can, “whether it's by phone, by Internet, whatever contact we can.”

“Our goal is to ensure a safe assembly of people and certainly they have the right to protest,” he said.

Const. George Tucker, another officer with the community relations group, said most protesters approached by ISU officers have just been slamming the door on their faces. He suggested that perhaps reports are being exaggerated.

“They don't happen,” he said. “There is a little bit of, what's the word called, subterfuge going on from those groups,” Tucker said. “The last (visit) was two female officers, just dressed like you are — so that's intimidating (protesters claim).”

Kevin Tilley of the Movement Defence Committee said there have been 28 incidents where activists have been approached by police since Feb. 21.

On Tuesday, Toronto police Insp. Howie Page of 52 Division was on scene and dismissed the claim that police were present at the event to intimidate protesters.

“Our job is for security measures, there’s no intimidation factor. There’s not a plan for intimidation,” he said.

The G20 summit runs June 26-27.

Comments

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The comparison of Toronto to Tiananmen Square shows the level of privilege Thomas enjoys in his everyday life. I doubt we'll see tanks rolling down Front St.

Get a grip, only people who break the law need to be worried so the math here is simple. Do not brake the law and you have nothing to worry about. You have the right to protest, you to not have the right to put me, my home or my business in harms way.

Perhaps if these protesters where more co-operative in helping authorities deal with the ones who just want to go out and cause violence, the massive crackdown and the cost associated with it would be non-existent.

These protesters have nobody but themselves to blame. Those who glorify the Battle in Seattle and do nothing on their end to stop the choas and cycle of violence of the so called 'peaceful' protests can not complain when police question their motives and plans.

I do not see any of these peaceful protesters aiding their own cause by pointing out those who are only showing up to destroy property. Instead they protect them.

You may have the right to protest, but Toronto property owners have rights too...rights that are usually ignored by these people.

Some would say that if you have done no wrong, you have no reason to fear the "authorities". But if CSIS agents showed up at your door for a friendly visit, how would you feel? Innocent or not, you would feel threatened. There are plenty of official avenues for the police or spies to communicate with protest organisers without showing up on their doorsteps unannounced. These are intimidation tactics pure and simple. Reminds me of the "friendly" actions of 3 undercover police officers trying to start a riot at the Montebello, Que. protest. It was a perfect example of police creating a threat that previously did not exist. Great for job security, and expanding budget requests. Not so great for the public who they are supposed to serve and protect.

Police need to learn that the word "security" has become loaded and that what they believe is in the public interest is actually infringing on our rights and freedoms. Security from what? From people expressing their civic right to protest peacefully? From people expressing their outrage over wasteful spending and policies that favour corporate policies over civil liberties?

Since when did visiting people's homes in advance of a protest become something other than an intimidation tactic?

The role of the police needs a heavy reassessment in the 21st century. Every time I see a protest in a major city, be it in Canada, the USA or in the UK, the police look more and more like a militarized force and less like the servants of the people.

This country is for Canadians and protesting is our greatest tool in preserving democracy. The police should be protecting the protesters themselves, not infringing on their rights.

Just wait, the police attended as non-paid on-duty security guards?? Can I get them to come to my event at no cost too???

I grew up in 52 Division. If Officer Page of that division says that there was no intimidation factor, that's enough proof for me that intimidation is exactly what they intended. As for the likelihood of the Summit being peaceful, I very greatly fear that it won't matter whether the protesters want to be peaceful: in view of the spending there has been on security, an "incident" or many "incidents" are likely to be provoked in order to justify the spending. I have had personal experience of the Toronto police force's behaviour towards protesters - and of the spin that's placed on events for the media afterward. At this point, it won't suit any of the Powers That Be if there is nothing to be suppressed.

Where does CSIS/RCMP end and our local police force begin? Will a Toronto cop help a protestor getting beat up by an overzealous RCMP officer or security guard? Or are they all jockeying for position as glorified political bodyguards? Save a politician from being annoyed, break a protestors eardrums, nose or arm and you're up for a promotion? How much do Toronto cops and private bodyguards feel they need to prove they can be team players on the PMO's agenda?

I guess it's a no-brainer - spend 3 days being spat on and yelled at or else pre-empt loud protestors and break their spirit and bones. The latter is undoubtedly more fun and makes the testosterone flow. Except that being spat on and yelled at is actually the job they signed up for. And so did politicians. It's called a democracy, and its supposed to be messy.

The intimadation tatics are only for those who gets out of hand!

if you protest nicely and without violence then you dont need to be scared, just those who plan on causing problems will be dealt with. In this country you have a right to protest but not a right to cause any problems otherwise. If you do, even during a protest, you should be arrested. Your emotions and feelings and expressing them are all fine until you violate the law.

Why can't we have a model of policing that's based on policing by consent rather than policing by force?

Having said that both sides need to take a deep breath, step back and reflect on how their activities are viewed by the silent majority before taking action. The protesters aren't going to get their message through if there's violence and the state will suffer the consequences of brutality at the ballot box.

When many of these protestors talk about police intimidation, it appears to be like the pot calling the kettle black. Why else would protest groups wear gas masks and engage in violent behaviours (and don’t tell me that it’s always the police that starts this). Passionate demonstrations are an important and positive part of our society, but that does not include the right to engage in violence, vandalism or intimidation!

I'd rather be safe than sorry. While, I'm sure, these protesters would be delighted if Obama or any of the leaders was assasinated by one of their number the rest of us would like a nice peaceful week, everyone goes home and life can get back to normal.

To me, it makes more sense for the protesters not to show up at all. Wouldn't that be a more effective protest against the governments that the paranoid idiots spent 1.1 billion on security when there were virtually no protesters? That would really make a mockery of the entire dog and pony show and show that governments are out of control.

Also those agents that CSIS puts in crowds to provoke people into attacking the police to allow them to make arrests (agent provacateurs, I think) are the stupidest thing that police could do. If no one intends to cause harm, without those guys, then why deliberately try to start problems?

Honestly, I can't believe some people have gone so far off the deep end. No matter what the police do, they will be blamed for it. Show up and its "intimidation". Stay away and "they failed to protect us".

Contrary to what these people seem to think, the police aren't the enemy of peacefull protests. I don't know how it can be said any more clearly than "Our goal is to ensure a safe assembly of people and certainly they have the right to protest".

PERSONALLY, I THINK ALL OF THE KNOWN AGITATORS AND RABBLE ROUSERS SUCH AS JOHN CLARKE, GAETAN HEROUX, ET AL SHOULD ALL BE ROUNDED UP, FORCIBLY IF NECESSARY, AND SHIPPED OUT OF TORONTO TO THE AMERICAN GULF COAST WHERE THEY CAN BE PRODUCTIVELY PUT TO WORK CLEANING THE OIL SPILL RATHER THAN CAUSING UNTOLD DAMAGE TO THE CITY AND ITS REPUTATION AS CANADA'S GREATEST CITY!

Ever notice how "peace" protesters are often the most violent and disruptive people? We have all seen what has happened at other G8 and G20 meetings so I fully support police in making sure these riff raff don't destroy Toronto!

F*** THE POLICE AND THIS POLICE STATE WE'RE INCREASING LIVING IN!

In the article, Const. George Tucker says “The last (visit) was two female officers, just dressed like you are — so that's intimidating (protesters claim).”

Perhaps Const. Tucker is unaware that police officers, even female ones, have the power to arrest people. How they are dressed and what sex they are is not relevant. The idea that those who don't break the law having nothing to worry about is ridiculous. Just because abuses of power by authorities take much milder forms and happen much more rarely than abuses of power in some other places doesn't mean they don't happen.

Or did the Robert Dziekanski inquest put Canadian abuses of police authority to rest forever?

“We especially would like to welcome the huge number of cops that we have here on horses, on bikes, waiting in their trucks and vans, and showcasing their intimidation tactics for our community members gathered here today. Thanks for proving our point.” shows the lack of respect right from the get go calling them Cops, how about Police.

These protestors are hypocrites. The whole point of protesting is to get some sort of point across. So...why did these "well meaning" people not make sure their "causes" were published in this article? If these people were intending peaceful protest, they they should have no reason to feel intimidated.

A very, very disturbing sign that Canada is in danger of losing its' Democratic status under the troubling quasi-police and not-so-well disguised dictatorial state of Harper and his cronies. Nothing wrong with protesting as long as it is non-violent or destructive of property......but the preemptive visits by Police and CSIS agents, if true, are more reminiscent of the Iron Curtain treatment of their citizens than age old proper Canadian respect for the right to disagree...clearly today most people in Canada disagree for good reason with what the Harper govt has and is doing. Without citizens and the unfair taxation of their hard-earned money, the govt would have no money to spy and intimidate on them...something to remember next election. I hate to say it, but it is rapidly becoming a sad, sad state of affairs here in Canada when gov't runs rampant over those they are supposed to represent....and ramrod policies down our throats with no say by the electorate. Out of control Harper.....out of control gov't agencies.....truly hoping and supporting valid protest, wishing the protesters can achieve their points and positive publicity for change but without harm to anyone on either side of the debate/disagreement or property damage in the month of June G8/G20 here. It takes more guts to protest under these trying circumstances than to spend and waste over $1B of taxpayer money.....any day of the week!

No intimidation ... but police are going door-to-door visiting potential "protesters"? What comes next - people disappearing in the middle of the night?

These so called "toys" and tactics are meant to maximize public and officer safety during these situations. Quite often, protests will have an emotional element to it, sometimes a very strong one. Tactics and tools utilzed by police will assist in minimizing violent conflicts instigated by those who would attempt to greatly disturb the peace in a violent way and go beyond what the law considers a lawful protest. By all means, exercise your right to speak out. Just so long as those protesting do so in the proper manner, police will not have to use force. Please protest responsibly.

These people are automatically assuming that the officers are trying to intimidate them, how about working with the police instead? If an officer showed up at my house to discuss expectations during the summit I would talk with them. I am no longer a teenager scared of police, I am an adult who recognizes that the police are there to protect us. It is a bit paranoid to assume the police are out to get you. If you plan on demonstrating peacefully then what is the problem? The cops obviously know these people will be protesting, so why not listen to what they have to say? I resent that I have lost my right to protest peacefully because of those protestors who set out to cause a disturbance. I have a life and do not want to chance getting hurt because some protestors romanticize that by vandanlizing property and encouraging violence they will get their message heard. Think about it people, if the Palestinians stopped all violence then Israel would have no choice but to deal fairly with them, as long as some people resort to violence there will remain an excuse to ignore their message.

Where was all this security when the Tamils were protesting?

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