Police arrest more than 400 at Toronto summit

Police say more than 400 arrests have been made after black-clad demonstrators broke off from a crowd of peaceful protesters.

Updated: Jun 27, 2010, 19:43 PM IST

Toronto: Police say more than 400 arrests have been made after black-clad demonstrators broke off from a crowd of peaceful protesters at the global economic summit in Toronto, torching four police cruisers and smashing windows.

Toronto Police Sgt. Tim Burrows said Sunday a total of 412 people were arrested in Saturday`s destruction.

The roving band wearing black balaclavas shattered shop windows for blocks, including at police headquarters, then shed some of their black clothes, revealing other garments, and continued to rampage through downtown Toronto.

Police used shields, clubs, tear gas and pepper spray to push back the rogue protesters who tried to head south toward the security fence surrounding the Group of 20 summit site.

Blair said the goal of the militant protesters was to draw police away from the security perimeter of the summit so that fellow protesters could attempt to disrupt the meeting.

Police arrested 130 people on Saturday, but Blair said many suspects remain at large.

Blair said officers have been struck by rocks and bottles and have been assaulted, but none was injured badly enough to stop working.

A stream of police cars headed to Toronto to reinforce security there after the smaller Group of Eight summit ended in Huntsville, Ontario, about 140 miles (225 kilometres) away. Security was being provided by an estimated 19,000 law enforcement officers drawn from all regions of Canada, and security costs are estimated at more than USD 900 million.

The vandalism occurred just blocks from where President Barack Obama and other world leaders were meeting and staying.

"These images are truly shocking to Canadians," Canadian Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said in a statement. "We are taking all measures necessary to ensure Canadians, delegates, media and international visitors remain safe."

Previous major world summits also have attracted massive, raucous and sometimes destructive protests by anti-globalisation forces.

Police in riot gear and riding bikes formed a blockade, keeping protesters from approaching the security fence a few blocks south of the march route. Police closed a stretch of Toronto`s subway system along the protest route and the largest shopping mall downtown closed after the protest took a turn for the worse.

Bureau Report