[G20 Toronto] Quebec City bus blocked by “new justice” and mass arrests

Michael Lessard..., Monday, June 28, 2010 - 11:55

The people from Quebec City, just before they could leave on their bus, were collectively searched, identified and detained on the spot arbitrarily and threatened of mass arrest.

Having a black scarf or a legal defence number were deemed reasonable reasons for arrest.

Article-rapport of these events as an independent reporter.

Includes an update about the people from Quebec City.


The bus for the people from Quebec City was to leave at 16:00. Yet, Sunday at 15:35, the Toronto police led a raid on the Convergence Centre, where activists could meet and help each other, including for food, legal contacts and housing. The first on the corner of the street were three young men from Quebec City and a woman presumably from Toronto. Their bags were searched on the spot and one of them was arrested and transported to the G20 detention centre. It now has been confirmed that his bag contained a black bandanna (not a scarf) that he often wears. For this "reason" it was impossible for him to leave with the Quebec City bus. He was freed during the night.

Around 15:45, the police blocked the bus before its departure and proceeded to write down the identification of all the passengers and to search all their personal bags and the bus. About thirty people from Quebec City were detained there under the watchful eye of about 20 police officers, while investigators studied the bags.

The people from Quebec cooperated fully, without requesting a mandate due to the “new justice” (the new law). The police were overheard noting from these activists a friendly and cooperative attitude.

Spontaneous support protest
The legal defense committee was quickly mobilized to convince the police not to block their return to Quebec. A crowd of over thirty people gathered at the entrance of the street to loudly protest against this massive search, against the raid of the Convergence Centre, and asking for the bus to be set free. Based on the screams that we could hear, we presume others were arrested during that support protest.


Threat of massive arrest without charge
The threat of a massive arrest of the people of Quebec was hovering in the air, which meant they would have been transported to the G20 detention centre ; a wagon for this purpose was on the scene. Their collective transport by a chartered bus was threatened.

The risks of a massive and indiscriminate arrest was real. Indeed...
• Saturday night, during a solidarity dance in front of the detention centre, about 200 antiriot police completely encircled the crowd and about thirty people were arrested while they were peacefully leaving, even though the police had sworn, before the media, that they would not be arrested if they left.

• That Sunday morning, 72 people were awoken by the police who took them to the detention centre, of which many were from Montreal and a few from Quebec City. These people, who came from other cities in Canada in order to protest, were in a gymnasium reserved as housing.

A few hours later, activists were shaken when they were submitted to a forcible intervention where agents in plainclothes jumped inside the crowd to snatch a few individuals, causing a mix of a few defensive reflexes, outrage, to outright panic. This was a protest in solidarity for those detained where not a single illegal behavior nor misconduct was reported. Most people fled when they realized they were again being encircled.

Hence, though with a smile and a spirit of camaraderie, the thirty people from Quebec, sitting outside on the ground, for two hours, were preparing mentally to be collectively transported to the detention centre.
Finally, the group received the green light from the detective responsible of this investigation. The investigators found nothing suspicious after completely searching and analyzing the baggages, using chemical substance detectors.

According to the detective, though the police intended on massively arresting the passengers and ceasing the portable computer of the independent reporter (myself, of the Quebec-Indymedia), he intervened beforehand. The activists believe it was the rapid legal pressure, combined with the popular outrage on the street supporting the folks from Quebec, that convinced them not to stop the departure and needlessly detain them.
The detective also declared he would share with the Quebec City organizers the list of objects ceased, mostly a few black clothing.
A person could not reach the bus due to the controls imposed by this police raid. Though we were not under arrest, the police made us understand that we risked arrest if we tried to find the person near-by.


Having a black scarf or a legal defense number as reasonable motives for arrest

Our understanding of the usual legal principles in Canada, is that the police can legally search and arrest you if a clue or behavior indicates a probable illegal gesture. The police have often mentioned, these last few days, that having a visible phone number written on yourself (legal defense) is, in their view, a motive allowing you to be detained. In many cases, it was possible to convince officers not to apply this criteria. But having a black scarf or bandanna found in a bag or on yourself almost always led to an arrest. This criteria obviously refers to the “black block” image. Note that many citizens, of various ages and styles, wore scarves to protect themselves from potential gas. Families and elder were even seen wearing protective gear to protest Saturday.


Journalists and reporters also viewed as potential vandals
An imposing police officer, to whom we presented our passport before the bus was searched, declared the police only arrest people involved in vandalism and that having a legal defense number written on yourself indicates a delinquent intention. It was impossible for us to confront him with the facts of mass arrests of people committing no illegal gesture or with the fact that journalists and reporters were brutalized, detained and arrested. Indeed, a British journalist for The Guardian, a recognized newspaper that the Harper government refused to recognize, was punched in the stomach, followed by an elbow strike on his back once he was on the ground, and then arrested. According to media on the scene, the police officer felt the journalist was speaking too much. During the Saturday protest, mass media employees were summarily arrested, to their great surprise.

Visibly, what is clear beyond a doubt, is that actions are not the criteria used to determine most detentions nor arrests.


Note – Update concerning the people from Quebec City:
Amongst the people from Quebec City who came to protest in Toronto, two were arrested Saturday when the police decided to clear the streets, another was arrested just before he could reach the bus (and freed that night) and another could not reach due to the controls imposed by this police raid. 

Most recent update : we are happy to announce, based on the information we currently have, that all the people from Quebec City are back.

Addendum : the above update did not count the many dozens of activists from Quebec (Montreal and Quebec City) who were arrested Sunday morning.


Monday, June 28, 2010
- Michaël Lessard, independent reporter, Quebec-Indymedia

An excellent report about this case, seen from the community who gathered to support the Quebec City folks :

July 10, 2010

Toronto's Parkdale community responds with condemnation to mass arrest inside its borders. Lawyer Riali Johanesson, detained while trying to provide counsel for the detained, takes us through that crazy Sunday.

Produced by Jesse Freeston

UPDATE: excellent video-report added
Michael Lessard...
Sun, 2010-07-11 16:03

You can see above an excellent video produced July 10 about this case by a news network.

A local lawyer describes what she saw and felt.

The video shows the scene as viewed by folks from the community who spontaneously came out to support the Quebec City folks and denounce political repression.

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Anonymity and the Law in Canada
Michael Lessard...
Wed, 2010-08-04 14:41

I found a legal analysis document from Carole Lucock and Katie Black on *

Here is their summary of your Canadian rights related to identification, detention, etc.


Disclosing and Concealing Identity

General Requirement for Identification -

There is no general requirement that persons carry identification or identify themselves to law enforcement officers. When law enforcement authorities have no reasonable grounds to detain or arrest an individual, that individual is provided a limited degree of anonymity by common-law principles and Charter guarantees of the right to be free from arbitrary detention and the right to remain silent.

No law, however, prevents law enforcement officers from stopping people to ask questions.

Courts have upheld the brief detention of people by officers as lawful for investigative purposes in a crime under investigation. Reasonable grounds for the detention based on a reasonable suspicion of involvement must exist in such cases. Even though persons are not required to identify themselves when detained, there is nothing to prevent them from volunteering this information when questioned by law enforcement personnel. Although refusing to answer such questions will not constitute a charge of obstructing justice, the provision of a false identity will.

If a person feels compelled to provide identifying information because of the circumstances of their physical or psychological detention, the use of obtained identifying information may be considered a Charter infringement of the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. This is especially so if the identifying information is used to search law enforcement databases.

Nonetheless, this sphere of limited anonymity is very restricted. It does not apply once a person has been charged with an offence or arrested, or when there is a legal duty to identify oneself—for example, as exists in the Highway Traffic Acts. Proposals to introduce a National Identification Card threaten to further restrict, if not obliterate, the limited anonymity currently enjoyed in Canada.

* Carole Lucock and Katie Black, Anonymity and the Law in Canada, p. 470. PDF on the Internet.

My comment :

For the case above that I lived through and witnessed —that is to say the entire Quebec City folks who submitted because it was blatantly obvious that any form of hesitation was going to put us all in the "detention centre" (hell hole)-- it falls clearly for us in the following category:

  • If a person feels compelled to provide identifying information because of the circumstances of their physical or psychological detention, the use of obtained identifying information may be considered a Charter infringement of the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.

We knew giving our identity and submitting was an infringement of our rights, but we gave in under repression/threat of force. Quite honesty, I do not expect justice and I have no faith that these police officers will grow up. I will simply be prepared to resist next time and face them in a court of law.

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