My name is Adrian Naylor. I am 23 years old, I live in Toronto and I work as a researcher for the History Department at the University of Toronto.
On Sunday, June 27, I participated in a jail solidarity demonstration in support of friends and allies who have been held in detention by the police after participating in resistance to the G8/G20 in Toronto.
We met in Jimmie Simpson Park at about 11am. Eventually there were about 100 of us, more or less. We discussed with police the route that we would take and the fact that we intended this to be a completely peaceful protest and that we wanted to meet our friends who were being released from detention with water, food, cigarettes (if they wanted) and TTC tokens. The police warned us that at the first sign of violence from us they would retaliate. We reassured them that it would be a completely peaceful protest – though we did ask them to guarantee that if they told us to disperse there would be an avenue for us to do so (unlike what happened at Queen’s Park yesterday). This was all filmed by a large number of media, both mainstream and alternative. In fact, two young women in our group were interviewed by the media.
We walked from the park down Queen, down Logan, to Eastern and to the temporary detainment facility. We sang, chanted, and clapped our hands. We had one big banner. We were not particularly rowdy. We were escorted by police and followed their directions exactly in terms of where we should march, whether we should be on the road or the sidewalk, etc.
We assembled across the street from the detention facility, where the police indicated we should stand. We chanted and clapped and sang in solidarity with our friends and comrades who were being detained. Two or three detainees were released to great excitement from us. Some of the protesters were drawing in chalk on the street. There was no engagement with the cops, beyond chanting some slogans like “Let them go!” and “When I say cops, you say criminals” etc. The chanting was not militant compared to other demonstrations I have attended, this week or otherwise. I didn’t see anyone talking to the police. I was interviewed by a female reporter about why I was there and I explained that I was there to support the detainees in detention and as they were released. I said that I felt that the vast majority of the detainees had been wrongly arrested. I don’t remember what news station the reporter was from.
All of a sudden, an unmarked van pulled up and police in plainclothes jumped out and into the crowd. At the time I didn’t know what was happening, there was chaos, my partner Chris and I were pushed to one side of the street. From footage from mainstream media and from talking to people afterward, I learned that at least one person was arrested and dragged behind the police line and into the van. The arrest seemed targeted, but the violence wasn’t. A young woman with a small build near me was in tears because the police had hit her repeatedly with a baton. Some of us tried to comfort her as best we could.
We were angry and scared, but we returned to the street and decided to sit down as a way of both deescalating the situation and of holding our ground. We continued to chant things like, “The whole world is watching” and “Peaceful protest!” and “We are peaceful, how ‘bout you?” We held out our hands in the peace sign. This didn’t last for long because all of a sudden the police came charging into our midst. I saw them kicking a man who refused to stand up. They fired what I thought were tear gas canisters into our midst. Certainly they hurt my throat, but according to the police they were just smoke bombs. They definitely fired rubber bullets into the crowd. It was terrifying. They chased us down the street. Chris and I ran with a group from Quebec and one protester who seemed to be on her own. As we left, we saw more police joining the contingent at the detention centre. We did not return to the site of the demonstration.
As we listened to the radio on the way home, the coverage seemed to be that the police had seen “dangerous anarchists” in our midst. They reported “clashes” between police and protesters. THIS IS A LIE! We did not engage in ANY violence towards the police. Without provocation, they attacked our peaceful protest. We did not know what was happening. I think that it was purely retaliatory.
I did not engage in any violence whatsoever (either towards people or property) throughout the protests I attended the week of the summits. Nor have I ever engaged in acts of violence towards anyone. Nothing I did, or indeed anyone else at this demonstration did, justified the way that the police terrorized us. I feel sick to my stomach I am so anxious. Following the incident, I was afraid to be outside my home. When I pass police in the streets the feeling of terror returns to me.
I DEMAND A FULL PUBLIC (INDEPENDENT) INQUIRY OF POLICE VIOLENCE DURING THE G8/G20 SUMMIT.
I am including links to video coverage of the police violence I experienced. In some of the videos you can see me. I have short hair, am wearing a white hat, a white and gray striped shirt and jean shorts.
Sincerely, Adrian Naylor