G20 Toronto Protest

The police response to the protests against the G8/G20 in Toronto was the largest mass arrest in Canadian history, surpassing the 1993 Clayoquot Sound logging blockade. It constituted the most far-reaching single assault on political rights in the Canadian state since the War Measures Act of 1970. This response fits the pattern of militarized policing at global summits, which consistently produce mass arrests. It also builds on long histories of police brutality in this city and across Canada, particularly aimed at people of colour, indigenous peoples, and poor communities. The use of these police state methods is increasing as the social divides produced by neoliberal policies deepen. In Toronto, this ground was further prepared by extraordinary legislation passed in secret by the Ontario government that designated the G20 security zone as a “public work.” Police deliberately misled the public to believe that anyone appearing within five metres of the four mile long wall surrounding the G20 zone could be searched without warning and arrested for failing to state their purpose for being near the fence. As part of the $1 billion security buildup, there was a massive police presence on the streets of Toronto, beginning days before the summit. Police stocked up on –and paraded before the media — weapons ranging from sound cannons that can cause permanent hearing loss, to water cannons, tear gas, riot gear, and other devices. The police presence significantly increased at