Inside the G20 Eastern Avenue Detention Centre
The G20 detention centre at 629 Eastern Avenue was opened to media today. Staff Sergeant J McGuire did the honours walking a few dozen reporters through the now vacated maze of a building. We were told that the facilities had been cleaned up a bit since the last prisoners were released but half eaten cheese sandwiches, toilet paper and paper cups littered the floors and holding cells and the stench of urine was almost ubiquitous throughout.
Before the tour started, one of the cops (not McGuire pictured above) waiting with media begged "when is it going to be over?" to which a 680 news reporter responded "that depends on you....but....please, make it stop."
We soon proceeded to start in the area near the back of the building where prisoners were first unloaded and placed into holding cells. We saw the portable orange toilets (with no doors/privacy for security reasons) and were told the washroom facilities were made available when a prisoner asked to use them. Many still stank and had toilet paper left on the seats and floors. Toilet paper was obviously provided to prisoners but only when it was asked for (in other words, rolls were not automatically supplied in the stalls)
In this first area, it wasn't uncommon for prisoners to wait for hours while they awaited to be seen in the prisoner management trailer overseen by two sergeants.
It was here that they were told of their rights and food (cheese sandwiches, apples, oranges) and water was made available if asked for. There clearly wasn't a water shortage (there were plenty of unconsumed cases) but our tour guide admitted that challenging logistics may have prevented water from being dispensed in a timely manner.
The cells were mostly 10x20 although there were some smaller 10x10 ones. I was actually quite surprised how many there were. They seemed to be never-ending as we snaked our way through the facilities. Inside each had a small bench that maybe one person could lie on or 3-4 people could sit comfortably.
Once the prisoners were processed from the initial holding cells they were taken to a separate room where officers met with them in temporary booking trailers. This is where the "paperwork" was compiled (all electronic based) and everyone was subject to a strip search - either a Level 2 (pat down search) or Level 3 (strip search). Contrary to published reports we were told that all female prisoners were strip searched by female officers.
Once this process was complete prisoners were taken to the cells they would remain in for the rest of their stay. Like the other cells, many were littered with paper cups and half or hardly touched cheese sandwiches and some prisoners created messages by arranging the paper cups into words through the sides of the cells.A separate room contained pay phones where prisoners were allowed to make a phone call. Again, we were told that logistics may have prevented everyone from having access to the phone booths in a timely manner (if at all) but that they were certainly available.
Overall, of the more than 900 arrested this weekend and brought here, approximately 200 were charged and the remainder (more than 700) were released with no charges.