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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

More on police abuses

Bookmark this site: the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition.

An invaluable resource, maintained by the best mayor Toronto's had in the last half-century. The most recent bulletin is a concise and comprehensive update on much of the fallout from the G20 clusterfuck: the competing and overlapping inquiries and reviews, the class-action lawsuit, and the persecution of Alex Hundert, for example.

But it also highlights a couple of other worrisome developments, specifically the possibility that officers from other jurisdictions who "helped out" with crowd control during the G20 are going to take those lessons home and start applying them there.

And it also summarizes the experience of several students from Quebec:

One will remember the students from Quebec who came to Toronto to be part of the ant-G20 demonstrations. While sleeping on the floor of a University of Toronto building, they were woken by a police raid. About 110 students were arrested and taken to the Eastern Street detention centre where they were strip-searched, charge with conspiracy, and then kept for 36 48 hours before being given bail and released. They were required to return to Toronto three times for procedural matters before the court, On October 13 three and one half months after being charged the students were told that all charges would be dropped. 

This seems similar to strategies used in other parts of the world against students threaten them with the humiliation of strip-searches and jail, then leave them dangling for a while before announcing that there were no grounds for arresting them in the first place. The might be contrary to the Charter or Rights and Freedom, but once the police have used these tactics in Canada and emerged without consequence, other police might decide this is the way to behave.

Nothing like a timely and regular reminder. As things stand currently, there doesn't seem to be any effective institutional remedy, even in the face of massive and egregious violations of the Charter. In other words, the cops know perfectly well that they can use the highest law of the land for toilet paper, and nobody's going to call them on it.

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