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article imageG20 detainees talk of their detainment, mistreatment by police Special

By Andrew Moran     Jun 29, 2010 in World
Toronto - More than 900 people were arrested in downtown Toronto during the upheaval over the weekend and now those who were detained are speaking out over their arrests, the conditions of the detention facility and treatment by police.
On Sunday, Edward Canahan spoke to the media after being released from the temporary detention centre in east Toronto where he described his treatment and detainment by the Toronto police force after he was arrested in the Queen Street and Spadina Avenue area.
The detainee said the police officers were nice but that he was put into cages with groups of about 6 to 8 people; he had no furniture to sit on and when going to the washroom, there was no privacy whatsoever.
Canahan was just “at the wrong place at the wrong time” when he was arrested.
During Monday’s jail solidarity rally in front of Toronto police headquarters at Yonge Street and College Street, three G20 detainees spoke out and discussed their detainment and mistreatment by police and the inadequate conditions of the detention facility.
Ben Powless’ story
Ben Powless, a First Nations environmental activist and student at Carleton University, talked about his experience when being arrested over the weekend where he said his treatment was horrid and the detention centre was less than adequate.
“I was one of the hundreds of people scooped up who were standing up for free speech and free assembly,” said Powless. “We suffered from one of the biggest mass arrests in history as we were arrested and witnessed police exercise media blackout so information couldn't get out as to what was happening to the arrestees.”
Four detainees who were arrested during the havoc from the G20 protests on Jun. 26-27 discussed thei...
Four detainees who were arrested during the havoc from the G20 protests on Jun. 26-27 discussed their tragic experiences.
Powless continued that many people spent between 20 and 46 hours waiting to get out of prison, which were “completely unjust, completely arbitrary and punitive” against those who were presumed guilty instead of innocent.
The activist went onto state that when they were being arrested they were not being told why they were arrested or what they were being arrested for and were just grabbed by undercover police in unmarked cars.
“We were witness to one of the most disturbing detention systems, more of a resemblance to a prison camp, than I’ve ever heard of in Canadian society,” added Powless. “They stole my bag, my wallet and my camera when I was in jail. When we were in jail, we were subject to 8X10 prison cells where many of 30-40 people were housed in cages. People had to go 12 hours without food and water and the only food we were provided with were food sandwiches, which many people were unable eat and going over 30 hours without any food at all.”
Many women, says Powless, were not given proper sanitary conditions, such as access to tampons and toilet paper. Powless added that police were making sexist disparaging remarks against women when they went to the washroom.
Similar to Canahan’s story, Powless states that people were forced to sleep on the concrete floor and were unable to sleep during their time in jail, “These conditions cannot be allowed to go under Canadian law and Canadian justice system and should be allowed to go free.”
Testimony from a female detainee
One detainee talks of her experience in the detention centre as well as her cellmate who was only 17-year-old girl, which was pointed out by another woman she shared a cell with. However, the police ignored the fact and did not take her to place she should’ve been held at.
The 17-year-old prisoner was held a lot longer than the speaker, even though they both were detained at the same time. In the end, states the speaker, the 17-year-old girl was put into a cell by herself when the cops found out the three women were together.
Four detainees who were arrested during the havoc from the G20 protests on Jun. 26-27 discussed thei...
Four detainees who were arrested during the havoc from the G20 protests on Jun. 26-27 discussed their tragic experiences.
The speaker also corroborates Powless’ story of the police not giving women any privacy when going to the washroom and making disparaging sexist remarks
“We have all been victims of the G20 Summit. We have to remember who it was behind the fence and who it was on the other side.”
No one is illegal organizer speaks out
Farrah Miranda, a No One is Illegal organizer and demonstrator, stated that her and her colleagues have been followed by plain clothes RCMP officers, cornered in the middle of the night and on Friday, before the police vehicles were on fire and Saturday’s riots, kids were beaten at the corner of Yonge and College for standing up for a person who was denied his rights because he needed ASL interpretation.
“A few kids were beaten on that intersection, bloodied, bruised because they dared to stand up for a young man that wasn't given ASL interpretation and denied his rights,” said Miranda. “These intimidation tactics were meant to scare us, were meant silence us, they're meant to instil fear into people in our communities we work with but we refuse to be afraid.”
Farrah Miranda of No One is Illegal
Farrah Miranda of No One is Illegal
On Saturday, after the tent city demonstration at Allan Gardens, Miranda and other organizers were headed to the labour march but an undercover, unmarked snatch-squad cut off the taxicab, opened the doors, dragged out one organizer and threw him into an unmarked minivan.
Afterwards, Miranda got into a van but was once again confronted by an unmarked snatch-squad, which “swarmed the cab, took me out, put me into another unmarked vehicle, drove me around the city trying to intimidate me.”
Large chants of “shame” by the crowd immediately broke out.
More about G20 summit, Toronto, Detainees
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