Watchdog blasts police in command at G20 riots (VIDEO)


Police arrest a protester during G20 meetings on June 27, 2010, in Toronto, Ont. A watchdog blasted Canadian law enforcement on May 16, 2012, for how they handled the demonstrations, which led to the most mass arrests in Canadian history.


Simon Hayter

Failed leadership, deficient communications and insufficient planning led to scenes of destruction and police brutality during the G20 summit in Toronto two years ago, a new report issued today concludes.

Gerry McNeilly, director of the Office of Independent Police Review, made 42 recommendations in the 300-page report.

Among his findings, McNeilly said Toronto Police Service appeared unable to cope with the rising demonstrations, partly because of edicts from commanders such as “take back the streets” leading to officers treating all demonstrators as criminals, CBC reported.

“What occurred over the course of the weekend resulted in the largest mass arrests in Canadian history. These disturbances had a profound impact not only on the citizens of Toronto and Canada generally, but on public confidence in the police as well,” said McNeilly, a lawyer and former deputy judge.

Police arrested more than 1,100 people during two days of protests around the international conferences.

McNeilly also pointed to failed communications systems that led police commanders to lose track of how many officers they had and where they had placed them.

When so-called “black bloc” members broke away and began vandalizing buildings and police cars, officers responded in kind, McNeilly wrote, according to Postmedia.

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Arrests were unlawful and detentions – including a much publicized late-night raid on a university dorm used as temporary housing – came without proper warrants, Postmedia reported.

“Numerous police officers used excessive force when arresting individuals and seemed to send a message that violence would be met with violence,” his report concluded. “The reaction created a cycle of escalating responses from both sides.”

The G20 Toronto Summit featured leaders from the 20 most prosperous nations. It was held over two days in late June following a similar meeting of G8 leaders nearby.

Agenda items included the global financial system, world banking, global recession and European financial crisis.

McNeilly recommended greater communication and planning between all levels of law enforcement.

An integrated security unit created for the summit included multiple police forces –municipal, provincial and national – as well as officers from other cities.

His other recommendations, according to the Toronto Star, included:

  • Compel officers to disclose potential evidence of misconduct
  • Senior officers should accept responsibility for staff and subordinates
  • Expunge police records for those who were not charged or whose charges were withdrawn

McNeilly and the OIPRD interviewed 200 citizens, 600 police officers and analyzed thousands of documents, videos and testimonials, the Star reported.

The non-partisan, civilian agency received 356 complaints.

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