Monday, July 12, 2010

Free Our Friends! Community Update on G20 Detainees

by Direct Support Committees of G20 detainees
Vancouver Media Co-op

While G20 leaders met behind a steel cage and a 1-billion dollar Fortress
Toronto operation, we witnessed an unprecedented coordinated police
operation in the city of Toronto. Police brutality against protest
participants, journalists, legal observers, medics, and random passersby
came in the form of indiscriminate arrests, beatings, pepper spray, rubber
bullets, police horse charges, illegal searches and seizures, and extended
arbitrary detentions. While in custody, people were forced into steel cage
cells with up to 40 people per cell; made to sleep on concrete floors with
open bathrooms; denied food, water, toilet paper, and sanitary products;
subjected to sexual harassment, threats, humiliation, and intimidation;
and refused access to medical attention, phone calls, and legal counsel.

Many were beaten and brutalized, leading to serious injuries and
hospitalization. According to an article authored by resident physicians
of the Toronto Street Medics, “All of the serious injuries we treated were
inflicted by the police. While violence against property received a great
deal of coverage, violence against people -- broken bones, cracked heads
and eyes filled with pepper spray - has yet to feature prominently in any
mainstream media. Our teams of medics witnessed and treated people who had
been struck in the head by police batons, had lacerations from police
shields and had been trampled by police horses.”

Over the weekend, there were 1090 arrests, of whom 113 were released
without charges on the street, 714 were held for breach of the peace and
released within 72 hours, and 263 released with pending charges.

Around 20 people still remain in custody. While the exact numbers and
charges of some of those still being held in detention are unclear at this
time, we know that 17 people are facing a variety of trumped up and
politically-motivated allegations including conspiracy.

At the time of writing (July 9), four have been released with stringent
bail conditions including house arrest; one was denied bail; and others
are awaiting bail hearings over the next 1-2 weeks.

These seventeen people are our friends. They come from towns and cities
across Ontario and Quebec and are respected and committed activists for a
multitude of causes such as environmental justice, women’s rights,
economic justice, antiwar, Indigenous rights, queer and trans liberation,
and migrant justice. They envision and embody worlds rooted in love,
justice, freedom, and self-determination. They are also known in their
communities as legal workers, students, animal lovers, childcare
providers, and academic researchers. Many were targeted and arrested,
including at gunpoint, in pre-emptive raids before the protests even

We remain steadfast in standing by our friends. Targeting organizers is
intended to weaken our thriving social and environmental justice movement,
to isolate effective and vocal community activists, and to criminalize
dissent against the violent policies of the G20 that perpetuate
environmental degradation, militarization, labour exploitation, theft of
Indigenous land and resources, and misery for the world’s majority. This
escalating attack on certain individuals and groups is intended to
intimidate and silence us all in our various movements and communities
across Canada. Make no mistake, if these politically motivated charges
against organizers are not defeated, police will seek to use them against
organizers in all sectors of our movement.

A recent Toronto open letter against police state tactics with prominent
signatories calls for a full campaign to defend the civil rights of those
facing excessive charges. The Asian Canadian Labour Alliance – Ontario
Chapter is demanding the immediate release of all detainees still being
held, and an end to the persecution and daily criminalization of
Indigenous, migrants, and marginalized communities.

We encourage our allies to build on this growing solidarity within our
diverse social movements to free our friends and demand that charges be
dropped against all G8/G20 arrestees, and to keep organizing for
liberation for all people, especially those who daily bear the brunt of
police, state, and corporate oppression.

They cannot jail our hearts.

Direct Support Committees of G20 detainees still being held at Maplehurst
Men’s Detention Centre and Vanier Women’s Prison in Ontario.

To donate to the legal defence fund in Ontario:

To donate to the legal defence fund in Quebec:

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