The vast majority of the 1100 people abused, assaulted and arrested as a result of the thuggish actions of the G20 police forces, apparently intent on suppressing Canadians' Charter Rights last June in Toronto, must be feeling a deep measure of vindication today, this despite the fact that Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair have never acknowledged that anything wrong transpired and, of course, have blocked any attempts to hold an inquiry to begin to heal the damage done to our democratic traditions and our trust in the police.
The Toronto Star headline, Aggression during G20 rally ‘perpetrated by police,’ judge rules speaks a truth long evident to those who were either present at the demonstrations or saw a wealth of video evidence depicting an out-of control constabulary wilfully suppressing our democratic right to protest last year in Ontario's capital.
Justice Melvyn Green made his comments after dismissing the charges against a 32-year-old bricklayer from London, Ontario, Michael Puddy, whose only 'crime' seems to have been wearing a T-shirt that offended police sensibilities, leading to his being arrested and charged with obstructing police, concealing a weapon and possession of a prohibited weapon, a pocket knife that he uses in his trade.
As reported in the Star,
The London, Ont. bricklayer was on his way to a concert downtown when he joined the front line of the late-night Saturday rally. Puddy was wearing a “Police Bastard” T-shirt named after a punk band, when he was pushed to the ground and cuffed.
Puddy was shuffled from officer to officer and eventually transported to the temporary Prisoner Processing Unit on Eastern Ave. He spent two days behind bars and was forced to sleep on a concrete floor and use a toilet without a door before he was released on $25,000 bail.
Justice Green made the following comment which, to me, reflects the most serious implications of the unwarranted police actions:
“The zealous exercise of police arrest powers in the context of political demonstrations risks distorting the necessary if delicate balance between law enforcement concerns for public safety and order, on the one hand, and individual rights and freedoms, on the other.”
How do we calculate the true cost of police actions that one normally associates with non-democratic states? How many people, for example, will choose to never (again) take part in a public demonstration or otherwise stand up for their beliefs because of what happened in Toronto?
Even if it is only one person, the cost of the G20 will still have been too high.