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Serious allegations

Published in the Toronto Sun

11 July 2010

Re:  G20 prisoner #0106: Sa (Toronto Sun, July 1, 2010), Wow!  I usually agree with Rachel’s columns, but this one is too much.  Those are some pretty serious accusations that her friend Tommy Taylor is making.  I hope they are investigated thoroughly, and if they prove to be false, I hope Taylor is charged with public mischief and/or sued civilly for slandering Toronto Police.  I don’t doubt that the conditions were not great at the temporary detention centre, but it was set up to serve a short-term purpose; not pretty but practical.  I’m sure if it was a permanent facility, the police would have made sure that the washrooms had marble floors and Cottonelle toilet paper, there would have been soft carpeting and a cable tv for each cell and fresh, crisp linens on the bed with a mint on the pillow.  Anyone who thinks this detention facility was bad, and Chief Blair has made it clear that it wasn’t supposed to be a pleasant experience, should visit the Don Jail sometime.

I think everyone who has a beef should read “Mistreated by cops in riot? Tough luck” by Rob Granatstein (Toronto Sun, June 2010).

The original article that prompted my response:

G20 prisoner #0106: Sa
The inside story of Toronto name Bay, cell block OL6
By Rachel Sa ,Toronto Sun

July 1, 2010
TORONTO – When police officers act like criminals, democracy dies a little.

That’s what we face in Toronto in the aftermath of the G20 debacle amid reports of police misconduct. Officers making Holocaust jokes, mocking people begging for water and laughing at detained women forced to urinate in public and wipe themselves while handcuffed.

These despicable actions should not happen in Toronto. But they did happen to hundreds who were swept up and held in deplorable conditions at the Eastern Avenue detention centre.

When thug anarchists swept Toronto’s core, I thought anything police did to quell the violence was justified.

I was wrong.

Tommy Taylor was a victim – and eyewitness. Taylor, 28, was walking home with his girlfriend Saturday night when he stopped to observe a peaceful protest in front of the Novotel. The police descended. Some people were protesting. Some, like Taylor and his girlfriend, were just walking by. One couple had the misfortune to step onto the Esplanade after dinner at the Keg as police swooped. They, too, were arrested.

I have known Taylor since we were both in high school. He is a gentle soul. His details of the 23-hour ordeal that unfolded should shame and outrage every Canadian.

At the Eastern Avenue detention centre, Taylor describes a scene out of a horror film: “Rows of cages with people bleeding, crying, slumped on the concrete floor. Huddled, asking to call family, asking for water, asking what the charge is, wanting to know their rights.

“All the officers were ignoring them – or laughing.”

As many as 40 men or women were crammed per cage in freezing, filthy conditions, without room to lie down on the concrete floor.

It’s a detention centre. You don’t expect luxury. But in Canada you should expect to be treated like a human being. No charges were laid for hours, no answers given, no phone calls allowed.

Taylor was Prisoner #0106 in cell block OL 6. What he heard appalled him.

One officer joked: “What do they think this is, Auschwitz?”

Several officers laughed at one girl crying for her overdue medication and taunted her by jangling their keys against the cage.

A Barrie officer told a young man with cerebral palsy: “Stop being stupid.”

Taylor could not identify most officers because they refused to give their names and had removed their name badges.

Begged for water

Taylor begged for water for nine hours and eventually passed out. He came to on the floor outside, was given Tang, then shoved back in.

When detained women begged for pads or tampons, male guards laughed and said: “That explains your attitudes.”

The full details of indignity, injustice and cruelty need more than this column. But Taylor documented his ordeal in an 11,000-word posting on Facebook that makes your blood boil and your stomach churn.

Not all officers behaved like thugs. Taylor reports several broke down emotionally in the chaos. One female officer wept, saying: “This is so wrong. You shouldn’t be here.”

The men sardined in Taylor’s cell got the attention of Toronto Special Police Constable White and asked him about the deplorable conditions.

“I’m just a pea in a pod. I can’t help,” White said.

Maybe you believe that anyone near a G20 protest should have expected to be arrested, whether they were protesting or not, violent or not.

But even if that is so, no one – violent protestor, peaceful activist, or regular citizen in the wrong place at the wrong time – deserved the sadistic treatment.

This cannot rest, no matter how many lame justifications or show-and-tell displays the police stage. The damage done to the psyche of the city is far more severe than the broken windows and senseless vandalism inflicted by the handful of idiot anarchists – and it will take much longer to heal.

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair has a lot to answer for.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/serious-allegations/

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