Dissent is the highest form of patriotism. – Howard Zinn
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July 1, 2010
More than 2,000 people demonstrated in Toronto and Montreal on Thursday against the arrests of nearly 1,000 protesters during last weekend’s G20 summit in Toronto.
About 1,000 protesters gathered at the Ontario legislature before marching south on University Avenue and then along a route that look them past Toronto police headquarters and back to Queen’s Park.
Groups including Canadians Advocating Public Participation called for an independent public inquiry into the way security was handled during the recent summit. Some also called for the resignation of Toronto police Chief Bill Blair.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has described the arrests as unprecedented, disproportionate, arbitrary and excessive.
“The CCLA is planning to help people who are seeking compensation to [initiate] a lawsuit in the Superior Court of Ontario,” Nathalie Des Rosiers, general counsel for the association, told the Toronto Star. “We have a couple of plaintiffs.”
Protesting police ‘intimidation’
In Montreal, more than 1,000 people, including women’s rights groups, union representatives and a provincial politician, marched to protest what happened in Toronto.
“We’re here to denounce the police and the police state that we lived in [in] Toronto, the oppression, the police oppression and intimidation,” said Dani Royier of Convergence des luttes anticapitalist, a group opposed to capitalism,
Olivier Lamour Lafleur said he went to Toronto to protest peacefully but was arrested soon after the protests began. He said he spent 36 hours in a holding cell.
Several police vehicles, including vans carrying riot police, followed the Montreal marchers Thursday but there were no major incidents and only two protesters were arrested.
In Winnipeg, more than 100 protesters marched through a neighbourhood street festival on Thursday to show support for those arrested during the summit.
And in Windsor, Ont., on Wednesday night, a small group of protesters gathered at police headquarters following a call to action by a group known as Common Cause, which describes itself as an anarchist organization. No one from the group would provide an identity at the rally, and members refused to be interviewed by the CBC.
‘Stand up for free speech’
However, Margaret Villamizar, who went to Toronto police headquarters on Monday to protest against the large number of arrests during the G20, said she attended the Windsor rally for one reason.
“I’m here to stand up for free speech,” Villamizar said. “I think a lot of people’s rights were violated in Toronto. I think it’s a sad day for our country. I think the prime minister has sent a message that if you want to stand up against globalization or anything else he deems fit, he will use the police to crush your opinion.”
On its website, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association says it wants an independent inquiry to address:
- The dispersal of protesters at the designated demonstration site in Queen’s Park late last Saturday afternoon.
- The detention and mass arrest on The Esplanade on Saturday night.
- The arrests and police actions outside the Eastern Avenue detention centre last Sunday morning.
- The prolonged detention and mass arrest of individuals at Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue on Sunday evening.
- The conditions of detention at the Eastern Avenue detention centre.
The association says it also seeks the repeal or amendment of the Public Works Protection Act and reforms to ensure that Criminal Code provisions relating to “breach of the peace,” “unlawful assemblies” and “riots” are brought in line with constitutional standards.
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Seriously. | Thousands of Canadians protest shuttering of Parliament | Anti-prorogation protest dogs PM | War resister released from U.S. prison | UK: Anti-terror stop and search policy ruled illegal by European human rights court | German ‘Fleshmob’ Protests Airport Scanners | For more see The Memory Hole — Protest