Stephen – “I heard no announcement that what had once been the designated protest zone had been deemed an unlawful assembly area”

Queen’s Park

From the time I arrived at Queen’s Park till the moment I was taken down by riot police, no reason was given why demonstrators, journalists, on lookers, or even dog walkers were no longer permitted to gather there. Like many I have since spoken to who were also arrested at Queen’s Park, i heard no announcement that what had once been the designated protest zone had been deemed an unlawful assembly area, let alone on what grounds such action was justified. I had asked the riot officers who were pushing back the line why we were being denied the right to gather there but none gave any response.

I returned to Queen’s Park after the main march had ended, and after I had joined with others to protest the police blockades of the fence and the fence itself. I went there to wait for a friend who was, at the time, acting as a legal observer. Although I saw the police amassed at the intersection of College and University, up until that point I had not seen the riot police do anything except hold their lines. I thought, therefore, that I was leaving the stress and intimidation of the area south of Queen Street to join what is normally a positive atmosphere that develops at the end of peaceful marches.

I was lying on the grass, close to sleeping, near the south end of the park when suddenly people began to run north towards the legislature. The riot police who assembled at the College University intersection had begun to haul down people who were there. The first capture I saw five or six police officers had pinned someone down on the ground and I clearly saw a baton thrust up the backside of the unlucky park goer they had wrestled to the ground. At that point I joined other protestors who had slowly begun to retreat away from the advancing riot police but who had refused to leave outright. Many of us were there, I believe, to speak out against loss of democracy that is a product of the concentration of power held in the G20, but at that moment we found ourselves experiencing it by the actions the police were taking to protect it.

I saw police officers forming lines at various other intersections south of Queen street but I hadn’t seen them advance on protestors or charge out from their lines. What was happening at Queen’s Park seemed unreal. After witnessing several arrests, which seemed to be indiscriminate apart from the fact that those arrested were those closest to the officers, I was myself suddenly pulled to the ground by a riot officer, and dragged behind the advancing police line. Several of them pinned me to the ground, one knelt on my head while others put the zip ties around my wrists.

I was given over to a regular police person and taken to some kind of detention vehicle. On the walk over this officer called me an asshole, a punk, someone who had come to wreck his city, painfully pulled on my bound hands and threatened to drive my head into the concrete. I took him for his word though. Quite far behind the advancing police line I saw a man whose head was pinned to the ground, his face was completely covered in blood.

To be sure, from the time I was arrested to the time I was brought to the film studio, few people who were arrested in the park were without a cut or mark of some kind. I was lucky in that respect. I saw individuals with broken noses and black eyes, an older man whose prosthetic leg was taken from him and who was forced from place to place without it. And still not one of us knew why we were arrested. It was not until much later in the detention center where I was read my charges: unlawful assembly and obstructing a “Peace” Officer.

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