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  April 1, 2010

"The Police Need to be Held Accountable"

Testimony 2 from the G20-Reports from witnesses and subjects of police actions
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Title photo courtesy of Benji Bilheimer


ADAM B., NURSING STUDENT: And I'm a nursing student and a member of the Toronto Street Medics. My afternoon started when I was at Queen and Bay at approximately 2:30. I had walked there to see the protests, to see if I can help. I arrived at the front of the protest and was one of the first protesters to turn the corner from Bay and Queen, going south of down on Bay. And the first thing that I wanted to bring people's attention to is the fact that when we arrived at King and Bay and the entire time afterwards, every single police action and every movement was meticulously planned and coordinated. And one thing that stood out like a sore thumb was the two police cars sitting in the intersection at King and Bay. They were vulnerable. They were prone. There was a line of riot police one block south at Wellington, there was a line of riot police one block west at York, but there was absolutely nobody in the intersection of King and Bay except for these two empty police cars, devoid of any equipment or computers. And I watched as people, well, ignited one car and were jumping on the other one. So, basically, I just wanted to draw attention to the fact that it was out of character for these two police cars to be sitting there vulnerable in the middle of the intersection. In any case, I stood back. There were no injuries at that point. So I ran away after there were two small explosions coming out of the first car that was lit on fire. So I walked ahead of the rest of the protesters. I walked east to Yonge Street. And then we proceeded up Yonge Street to around College. I also witnessed a number of people in black shirts—I'm not sure if they're dubbed the "black bloc" by the media or if they're self-attributed as having that name, but people wearing entirely black, I observed them throwing mailboxes and other things through windows. The story that I really want to tell you about, though, occurred about a half an hour later as the protest arrived to a standstill at College and University. For a time, the riot police were lined up perfectly on the crosswalk south of the intersection and the crosswalk west of the intersection. Very quickly what had happened was they advanced to take over the entire intersection, pushing us back to the north side of University and College, where they stopped at the intersection. So we were allowed to sit on the island in between the two lanes of traffic at that time. I was off to the west of that island when I observed, like, a scuffle, a flurry. I wasn't able to see exactly what was going on, but I knew that it was a flurry of activity. I went with my camera and my first aid kit in my pocket to investigate, to photodocument, to see if anybody needed any help. And around the middle of the road, I was knocked to the ground. The camera flew out of my hands, and it landed about a foot behind a boot of a police officer. I asked him to kick the camera towards me so that I could leave—and I was on the ground at this point—and he swung his baton and he hit me in the leg. I'm not sure if it's prudent at this point to show the scar that I have from that, but I'm going to do it anyway. [he does] What you're not seeing is the swelling that occurred. This was approximately 1.5 times bigger than my other leg. The swelling is almost nil now, but if you can imagine this about one and a half times bigger, that was the extent of the swelling, and that has been photodocumented. So that's essentially what happened. I was not able to offer any assistance to the circle of protesters that I later found were being beaten. I later on found out, through a YouTube video where I can actually see myself in the image, what exactly that flurry of activity that I was talking about was going on. There was a circle of protesters sitting in the grass in the middle island between the two lanes of traffic; they were sitting on the ground. And the police officers gave them between 3 and 5 seconds worth of warning. And I don't remember the visual aspect of that exact moment in time, because I didn't see it, but I do remember the auditory imagery and the memory in my head, and it was, if you can imagine, this line of riot police striking their batons against their riot shields like this: so it was back, bam, back, bam. And in the amount of time that that happened, approximately, like I said, 3 or 5 seconds, they started kicking and batoning people sitting on the ground with their backs facing these riot police. So, again, I'm here for a number of reasons. I'm here because the police need to be held accountable, but at the same time I'm here to dispel any myths that actual adequate amounts of notice were given. It is my eyewitness account that adequate notice was not given by any means. People were not allowed to get up before they were beaten. That's my story.

End of Transcript

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