An Open Letter to the Toronto Police Service
To Chief Bill Blair and the Toronto Police Service:
In June, 2010 at the G20 summit Toronto saw the largest mass arrests in Canadian history. Complaints too numerous to mention were filed against police officers and many of the investigations and law suits that resulted from that weekend will be ongoing for years to come. On October 15 another mass demonstration is coming to Toronto as part of the Occupy Everywhere movement. Neither the people of Toronto, nor I'm sure, its police force want to see a repeat of the G20 weekend.
We, the undersigned, expect that officers will be professional, will attempt to communicate with demonstrators at all times, will make any requests or demands clear and will give citizens including demonstrators, passers by, observers and the media every opportunity to comply with those requests before taking any action.
All officers should have their badges visible at all times, be prepared to produce identification and/or provide a business card on request.
If there is violence it should not, under any circumstances, be instigated by the police and in the event it is necessary the minimum possible force should be used. Under no circumstances should police resort to the use of tear gas, pepper spray, tazers, rubber bullets, sound cannons or any other device, substance or method that may harm individuals other than the intended target.
Individuals should neither be arrested nor detained unless there is an intent on the part of the police to charge them with a crime.
Individuals should not be kettled or impeded in any way unless there is a belief on the part of police that they were involved in a crime or are about to commit a crime.
Police should prioritize their concerns and take a realistic view of potential security threats so that this isn't a repeat of the "Officer Bubbles" incident.
Police should not, under any circumstances, threaten, harass or impede medical volunteers attempting to treat the injured.
All individuals, including those who have been detained and arrested, should be treated with courtesy, dignity and respect. This includes insuring that their human and civil rights are observed, that they have access to legal counsel and adequate food, water, sanitation and medical attention if necessary.
Above all individual officers should be prepared to be held accountable for their actions. Toronto, Canada and the world will be watching. The demonstrations will be heavily photographed, recorded to video and otherwise documented. "Following orders" will not be acceptable justification for the mistreatment of individuals.
Canada is a democratic country and its citizens are gathering, in solidarity with individuals around the world, to demand reform. They have every right to do so. It is the responsibility of the Toronto Police Service to insure the safety of citizens, insure that individual rights are upheld and that property is protected, not to act as political agents on behalf of the current government. Many of the reforms being sought would, ultimately, be of benefit to police officers and their families. Perhaps, if the Occupy Toronto actions go well, the rift between Toronto and its police that opened as a result of the 2010 G20 meeting can begin to heal.
- The Toronto Police Service
I just signed the following petition addressed to: The Toronto Police Service.
Do Not Let Occupy Toronto Become Another G20
The 2010 G20 meeting in Toronto resulted in the largest mass arrests in Canadian history and numerous complaints of violence, harassment, threats, intimidation, and civil and human rights abuses against the Toronto Police Service. Many of these complaints are still being investigated or working their way through the courts. On October 15, 2011 the Occupy Everywhere movement will arrive in Toronto. It is important that police actions at the G20 not be repeated.
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