Thursday, 1 July 2010

Joint lawsuit planned for G20 arrestees

Joint lawsuit planned for G20 arrestees -
Overwhelmed with calls, Civil Liberties Association is working on suing police forces.

More than 1,000 arrests were made relating to the G20 summit and
multiple reports have emerged alleging peaceful demonstrators or even
bystanders were caught up in the mass arrests — most notably, at the
Esplanade’s Novotel Hotel on Saturday, where demonstrators tried to
stage a sit-in, or at Queen St. and Spadina Ave., where a large crowd
was boxed in and detained for several hours in the rain.

All arrests this weekend were made under the criminal code and not
the Public Works Protection Act, according to the province.

More calls for a public inquiry

Blair has announced an internal police review, but there are growing
demands for a public inquiry, with the Public Service Alliance of
Canada, Greenpeace and 121 signatories from the York University faculty
recently joining the chorus of voices asking for an independent probe.
The Criminal Lawyers’ Association is also calling for an independent
fact-finder to probe the circumstances surrounding the G20 arrests and
NDP critic Don Davies (Vancouver Kingsway) has requested the House of
Commons public safety committee be recalled to study issues surrounding
summit security.

Of 1,090 people detained over the G20 period, 714 were charged with
“breaching the peace” and taken into custody, according to police
spokesperson Const. Tony Vella. All were eventually released
unconditionally. (Some 113 were released at the scene of the arrest with
no charge.)

According to section 31 of the criminal code, officers can arrest
anyone found to be “committing the breach of the peace or who, on
reasonable grounds, he believes is about to join in or renew the breach
of peace.”

But according to criminal lawyer Paul Calarco, there is “no
legitimate basis” for many of this weekend’s arrests.

“Wearing a black t-shirt is not any basis for saying reasonable

grounds (for arrest),” he argued. As for arresting peaceful
demonstrators en masse, “that is not a proper use of Section 31. That is
an intimidation tactic,” he said.

“Standing on the sidewalk and exercising your constitutional rights

is not a breach of the peace.”

A further 263 of those arrested were charged with criminal offences

— some because they had pocket knives or similar common items in their
backpacks — and were sent for bail hearings.

Some people who were arrested will probably argue their Charter

rights were violated, said Jonathan Dawe, criminal lawyer with Sack
Goldblatt Mitchell. He pointed to reports of people being denied their
right to legal counsel or to not be arbitrarily arrested or detained.

“I can’t imagine how (police) could not have known that what they
were doing is unlawful,” Dawe said. “I’m shocked at what seems to have
been a wholesale decision on the part of the police to abandon the

More commentary:
Impolitical: G20 Lawsuits on the way

News of the Restless: Authoritarians: Canada haz 'em

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