Saturday 10 July 2010

G20 Toronto - Inch by inch, we come closer to the truth

We are another baby step closer to the truth about who may have given the orders to a) stand down and let vandals smash windows and burn police cars for 1.5 hours, and b) to attack, arrest and detain hundreds of innocents in an unjust fashion.

Today, as reported in the Toronto Star and the Globe & Mail, it has been revealed that Bill Blair was misled (and he, in turn, misled his officers), and that there were times when he was not exactly calling the shots regarding the police downtown (outside the Security Area).

Excerpt from: Toronto Star: Chain of Command Questioned in G20
[I have added the emphasis below.]
At no time was there ever one person unilaterally calling the shots. The complex command structure designed for the G20 had Toronto’s command centre, run by Toronto police, in constant consultations with the federally led Integrated Security Unit based in Barrie.

Earlier this week, the police board announced it would launch a civilian review of the G20’s “multijurisdictional” policing model. A central goal of the investigation is to uncover the command structure and who each body was accountable to, said chair Alok Mukherjee.

The Toronto Police Services Board, the Gold Standard for civilian oversight in the country, says it was not kept in the loop throughout the G20 planning. Board members say they felt the ISU deliberately cut them out of the process.

Meanwhile, provincial Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Rick Bartolucci – who oversees the OPP – and federal Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews – who oversees the RCMP – were both kept informed throughout the planning process and the situation on the ground during the summit.

“A big part of the reason I called the review is to precisely understand who had what jurisdiction during the G20,” said Mukherjee. “I think what is fair to say is that the board is trying to understand who was in charge at different points in time.”

Mayor David Miller, who has stood behind the chief and the board, said even he was left in the dark.

“There are legitimate public policy questions,” said Miller. “Who was the Integrated Security Unit reporting to? . . . Who’s in charge? Are they reporting to the prime minister? Because that’s ultimately the oversight of the RCMP. Are they reporting to the premier? Because that’s ultimately the oversight of the OPP. The premier and the prime minister, did they agree on a security plan? How did that all work?”

The ISU, a federally led security strategy, is the same model that was used during the Olympics. The RCMP commissioner put his Chief Superintendent Alphonse MacNeil in charge.

MacNeil oversaw the assembly of a five-member command team, made up of top officers from the RCMP, OPP, Canadian Armed forces, and Toronto and Peel police forces. They would be based in Barrie and monitor what was happening on Toronto streets by video and ground reports.

A local major incident command centre was set up at Toronto police headquarters. Two senior officers, Supts. Hugh Ferguson and Mark Fenton, were the commanding officers on a rotating shift basis.

The ISU was to be responsible for everything inside the summit fences. Toronto police were to protect everything outside the perimeter.

When concerns arose about what authority police would have to search suspicious individuals near the fence, ISU officials asked Blair to get the province to designate summit zones as part of the Public Works Protection Act. Blair, according to sources, saw no need. He argued police officers were already empowered to ask for identification and search suspicious individuals under common law.

But he did as requested.

ISU lawyers incorrectly briefed Blair’s legal team on the legislation. Blair was told anyone within five metres of the fence would be subject to the act. So when news of the so-called “secret law” broke the Friday of the G20 weekend and Blair was summoned to explain, he was left clarifying something he didn’t fully understand.

The province contacted him that afternoon to explain he had been misinformed about the five metres. When the truth came out after the G20, it appeared as if the chief had purposely misled the public, when in reality, he really wasn’t informed, said one board member.

In retrospect, Bartolucci says he wishes his ministry had issued a clarification.

“Hindsight is 20/20,” he said.

As the only obvious target for criticism, Blair has been left to answer to allegations of police wrongdoing, including the controversial crowd-control tactics used the Sunday evening.

But on that day, when police corralled hundreds of people at Queen St. W. and Spadina Ave. during a heavy rainstorm, the chain of command between the ISU and Toronto police was even less transparent.

After several hours of heated debate, Blair eventually stepped in again and demanded everyone at the intersection be released, but only after hundreds of others had been arrested and taken to a detention centre.

In The Globe & Mail: G20 Review Will Focus On Decision-Making Process, Alok Mukherjee, the chair of the Toronto Police Services Board, said:
That reviewer will also make clear which decisions were up to Toronto Police, which came from the RCMP, and which directions were issued by the Integrated Security Unit from its command post in Barrie, Ont.

What is missing here is finding out if the RCMP consulted or was given suggestions or took orders from a person or persons in the federal government (like the Federal Minister of Public Safety, Vic Toews, or from Prime Minister Stephen Harper). Considering that the actions of the police to allow prolonged vandalism, and then attack and arrest hundreds of innocent people were not standard typical procedures (in view of protecting people and property, and keeping the public safety), it seems that they must have been taking orders from someone outside the police/RCMP structure.

All the talk of reviews is fine and dandy, but what it all boils down to is: who ultimately gave the orders to stand down and allow prolonged vandalism and to attack and arrest hundreds of innocents (and to remove rights during detention of these people)? Whoever ultimately gave these orders/(made these directions) is the person (or persons) who should be brought up on criminal charges. If someone above Bill Blair or Alphonse MacNeil directed them in these matters, then that someone must be held accountable.

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