Toronto: Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in major Canadian cities to demand an inquiry into police excesses during the G20 summit here June 26-27. In the largest mass arrest in Canadian history, more than 1,000 people were arrested in the city under secret emergency powers given to security forces.
Hundreds of protesters were kept in specially erected iron cages. Though most of them were released on Saturday, about a dozen are still in jail.
Angry anti-globalisation protesters had burnt police cars and damaged buildings and shops in the heart of the city. Even though Alok Mukherjee, head of the Toronto Police Services Board, has already ordered an independent civilian review of police tactics, there have been calls for the head of Toronto police chief Bill Blair.
Calling Saturday a Day of Action for Civil Liberties, more than 2,000 students and activists from Amnesty International, labour unions and civil liberty groups took to streets near the summit venue in Toronto, demanding accountability from the prime minister, the Ontario provincial premier, the Toronto mayor and police boss for arbitrary arrests.
Chanting in unison, they said, "Police inquiry. Now."
Said Nora Loreto of Civil Liberties Now, "There were a lot of questionable tactics that were undertaken by the police during the G20 summit, and a lot of powers that a lot of people call into question.”
"So the purpose of today`s rally is to put forward a united front and call on all levels of government to implement an independent public inquiry so we can find out who was making the decisions, why they made the decisions that they made, and how come so many people got arrested?"
Added Nathalie Des Rosiers of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, "Mass arrests are unacceptable, they are illegal and unconstitutional, so why did we have them? I think it is about fair that people know what happened, what went wrong."
Hamid Osman, of the Canadian Federation of Students, said, "Students deeply believe in our freedoms of expression and assembly, as guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms."
Similar marches were also held in Montreal, Windsor and Halifax.