On June 26th, after the storefronts had been smashed and Queen’s Park was in the process of being cleared by the cops, my friends and I were on College Street, to the East of University Ave. There was a line of bike cops keeping pedestrians and cars from crossing University, and an enormous number of cops behind them, facing Queen’s Park.
While my friends and I watched the goings-on in Queen’s Park, a number of plain-clothed cops approached University from College Street and went behind the line of bikes. After several minutes, a group of protesters dressed as zombies approached Queen’s Park from College Street as well. The zombie protesters were carrying a large banner–there were maybe six or seven in the group. The zombies stood with us on College Street, watching what was happening in Queen’s Park (that’s literally all they did). After a little while, a group of the aforementioned plain-clothed cops (whose badge numbers were not visible) emerged from behind the line of bike cops with their batons out. They briefly chased one of the zombies (he was the tallest and biggest zombie among them, with short brown hair) then grabbed him, pulled him onto the ground, kicked him in the stomach (at least once), and dragged him back to the line of bike cops where they cuffed him and took him out of our sight. The plain-clothed cops who were not immediately involved in grabbing the zombie protester created a circle around those cops who were, and they shouted at the rest of us to stay back. This all happened within a few feet of where I was standing, and was over in less than a minute.
I don’t know what happened to that protester, and I don’t know who the cops were who arrested him, or what their badge numbers were. When the cops emerged from behind the line of bikes, everything became chaotic (protesters scattered) and I couldn’t tell who was a plain-clothed cop and who was a protester. Besides the immense fear of having something happen to my friends or to myself, the feelings of powerlessness and frustration were overwhelming. All I could do was watch as a fellow protester (who had done nothing more than stand on the street holding a sign) got tackled, kicked, and dragged by a group of cops.
That experience made me and my friends leave the area, and I’m glad we did–to my understanding, the plain-clothed cops continued to go out in groups and drag protesters behind the line of bike cops. It could have been any one of us that they had grabbed and we all would have been just as powerless to do anything about it. That kind of unprovoked police aggression and non-transparent behaviour is completely unacceptable. There needs to be an independent inquiry into this and other events that took place during the G20 weekend (and by “independent inquiry,” I mean one that is NOT overseen by retired cops).