[Hpn] Fwd: [imc-ontario] A personal story of October 16 protests in Toronto

Graeme Bacque gbacque@netzero.net
Thu, 18 Oct 2001 17:22:25 -0400

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Delivered-To: gbacque@netzero.net
From: "John Milton" <john.milton@hwcn.org>
Subject: [imc-ontario] A personal story of October 16 protests in Toronto
Date: Thu, 18 Oct 2001 01:22:24 -0400

Sorry for reposts....

My view of  "O16" in Toronto

By: John Milton, Dundas Ontario


This is a story about "covering the story"; what happened to me when I
attempted to cover the October the 16th  "Ontario Common Front" 
demonstrations in Toronto as an
independent journalist. I started the day at about 4:40 a.m. when I took a 
cab from the
temporary Independent Media Center that had been set up for the event to 
City Hall. My plan for
the day was to start with some interviews during the breakfast gathering 
that had been set to
start at 5:00 a.m. then follow the march through the downtown and develop 
the story as events
unfolded, little did I know what that was to mean...

I was wearing blue jeans, a red nylon jacket, and a baseball cap, and was
loaded down with a small rucksack, several camera bags, and my media 
credentials clearly
visible on a string aroundmy neck. There were police everywhere, more than 
a hundred in the immediate
vicinity of the front of the square alone; but I was cheered by the sound 
of drummers
drifting down from the square in front of me, clearly audible over the 
noise of dozens of police

As I moved to leave the sidewalk and enter the square a cop stepped in 
front of me and took hold
of my arm. "We are searching everyone's bags here, there's a zero tolerance 
policy in effect here
today. I'm going to search your bag O.K.?". Knowing that I was only legally 
required to submit to
a police search if I was under arrest, and not particularly wanting anyone 
else rummaging
through a bag of fragile and expensive camera equipment in the dark, I 
decided at that point that
I would decline, I asked the cop: "Am I under arrest?" He answered "No", 
and then, before I had
a chance to say anything further, let go of my arm and grabbed on of my 
camera bags with both
hands and tried to pull it off my shoulder. I grabbed the other side of the 
bag, looked him in the
face and shouted, "No!"

"No? NO??!!" He responded, anger and incredulity filling his voice, "You're 
under arrest!" At
this point I was seized by one of the other officers that was standing near 
by, my bags were
removed, and my hands handcuffed behind my back, I was patted down and my 
spread out on the sidewalk. As I stood there passively, handcuffed and 
heldby two large officers,
I asked the third one examining my equipment to be careful with it. "You 
shut up! , you're
under arrest for disturbing the peace. You resist any more and we'll have 
to make you suffer
some." was his response. After finishing their unproductive search I was 
photographed with a
Polaroid camera and then loaded, still handcuffed, into one of the metal 
cages inside a waiting
van style "paddy wagon". Over the next half hour or so the compartments of 
this vehicle were
filled with 10 additional handcuffed individuals, all of whom told similar 
stories of arbitrary
arrest without just cause.

What followed can, I think, quite fairly be described as brutalization. For 
over five hours we
were driven, stop and go, throughout the downtown core area. After only a 
brief time the
temperature and humidity levels rose to extremely unpleasant levels. We 
were all soaked in
sweat, and all of the interior surfaces of the sheet metal cages were soon 
dripped with
condensation. It was very hard to tell what was going on, but some things 
could be seen through
the grills in the cage doors, which allowed a somewhat obstructed view 
through the outside
windows. It seemed that at times the truck was being used as part of a road 
block to prevent the
march from going down certain streets, at other times we seemed to be 
parked in front of large
buildings, presumably as part of a "show of force" to deter unwanted 
activity. There are only two
explanations I find credible as to why we were treated this way rather than 
being taken directly
to the police station following arrest as would be usual. The first is to 
inflict additional
punishment on us, the second that we were being used by the cops as "human 
shields" to deter
any of the marchers from trashing the vehicle.

When I was initially handcuffed the cuffs had been ratcheted down very 
tightly, after about an
hour in the truck I lost feeling and movement in my hands, after what 
seemed like about two
hours an intense burning pain began, starting in the hands and shooting up 
both forearms. At
what I was later able to figure to be three and a half hours in restraint 
my arms began to
involuntarily convulse, each contraction driving the steel of the cuffs 
into my swollen wrists. At
this point I was screaming with each spasm. Meanwhile, in one of the other 
cages another
gentleman was having great difficulty of another sort; Having your arms 
pinned tightly behind
you in various ways for extended periods has been a method of 
torture  since the days of the
inquisition, since it has been known that it interferes with the rib cages 
ability to move fully
during breathing. It leads, sooner or later, to slow suffocation. He was 
slumped over double, and
slipping into unconsciousness as a result of this process. It was only at 
this point that the officers
responded to the ongoing pleas of the others to open the cages long enough 
to re-handcuff the
two of us with our arms in front of us. When this was done I could see that 
the force of the cuffs
against my wrists during the  convulsions had crushed many of the small 
blood vessels, causing
large blood filled blisters to form under and around the steel. (I would 
post photos of this injury,
but have been advised not to in the event of further legal action on my part).

After this the driving and stopping continued for more than another hour 
and a half, at the end of
which we arrived at 51 Division Police Station. At this point we were 
processed, including a full
"strip search", and held in individual cells in the lockup from about 11:00 
a.m. untill about 10:30
p.m. at which point we were all released without criminal charges being 
laid or any evidence of
wrongdoing having been found. During this time we were all denied our right 
to contact legal
assistance. Some of my property was not returned to me, without legal 
excuse, at the time of my
release, and my efforts to retrieve it are ongoing.

Such are the consequences today of claiming ones alleged right of refusal 
to submit to arbitrary
search by the state. I invite you to draw your own conclusions as to the 
effect of passage of the
new "security" laws presently being "considered" in Ottawa on the conduct 
of the police in this
and other matters.

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