G20 Summit Toronto Police Mistakes

Toronto police admit to making mistakes at G20 summit

Well, that only took a year. As the first anniversary of the G20 summit in Toronto arrives, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair has released a 70-page report that claims to take a "hard look" at how he and his officers handled the protests. "Many things we did very well," he writes in the introductory message. "Some things we did not."

Of the shortcomings and errors that Blair highlights, the kettling of some 300 people at Queen and Spadina and a general lack of preparedness for Black Bloc tactics are among the most egregious. "Better methods must be developed for extracting individuals posing a threat to public safety from within large crowds," the report reads.

By way of explanation for these mistakes, Blair somewhat disappointingly claims that "a relatively short planning time did not allow for full integration of the Planning Team with those responsible for managing police operations during the event."

He also hints at the fact that early police tactics may have escalated the situation. "Premature displays of real or implied force can lead to negative crowd reactions that may escalate a situation. The initial contact by public order officers with protest groups, in the absence of clear indications to the contrary, should be low key and measured. The dynamic nature of the protest activities that occurred during the G20 Summit required officers not properly trained or equipped to do so to execute POU techniques."

In something of a summary of the weekend's events, Blair notes that "while it was anticipated that violent protest might occur during the G20 Summit in Toronto, it was also expected that the majority of protests would be peaceful...Despite the many steps taken to minimize the occurrence of serious public disorder, violence and property damage was experienced in the downtown core during the G20 Summit. In total, 1118 people were arrested during the Summit, 39 of who reported being injured during their arrest. Ninety-seven police officers were injured in the course of carrying out their duties. No critical injuries or deaths occurred during the G20 Summit."

While the last line is likely meant to infer that things could have been much worse, where this report comes up short is in explaining (clearly and patiently) why so many were arrested, particularly given the fact that so few have been charged and that the play-by-play of the weekend's events seems to indicate that the police never got a handle on the majority of protestors engaging in Black Bloc tactics.

Read the full report here (PDF).

Photo by matthewcxlangford in the blogTO Flickr pool.


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