G20 Aftermath: one of the largest mass arrests in Canadian history nets only a handful of charges

G20 Aftermath: one of the largest mass arrests in Canadian history nets only a handful of charges

An arrest is made at last year’s G20 summit (Image: Chris Huggins)

This Sunday marks the first anniversary of the G20 summit in Toronto, and instead of a celebratory kettle of local citizens—you know, for old times’ sake—it’s possible that the Toronto police will take a moment to reflect on why they arrested so many people (more than 1,000 detainees) in the first place. Or not. According to new numbers that are causing something of a stir today, in the year since those arrests, only 317 have been charged, and most of those charges have been dropped or dismissed entirely. This means that, really, something in the neighborhood of 900 people spent some time in police custody for no good reason, as far as we can tell.

From the Globe and Mail:

A year later, investigators have methodically tracked down many of those accused of trashing the city that weekend, but holding police themselves to account for alleged wrongdoings has proven more difficult.

What’s more, numbers released Monday show that, out of more than 1,100 people arrested in connection with the G20, just 24 have pleaded guilty and 56 are still before the courts; the vast majority were either released without charge or had their charges dropped.

Meanwhile, many of the questions that emerged from that weekend remain only partly answered: Why did police seemingly do little to stop the property damage, but then round up peaceful demonstrators? Why did officers search people far from the summit? Who was calling the shots – local police in Toronto or RCMP in Barrie who were overseeing G8 security?

That we don’t even know the answer to the last question—i.e., who was in charge—is the most worrying. Without an answer to that question it’s impossible to know who should be held accountable. The situation is all the more embarrassing given that in the wake of Vancouver’s riots, the city has already announced a “review” after Canucks fans went cuckoo-bananas—alternately destroying city streets and making out—when their team lost the Stanley Cup. Sure, it’s less than a full public inquiry, but based on early reports it’s still likely to be more thorough than anything Toronto has seen in the last year. But maybe Dalton McGuinty and Stephen Harper are seeing all the bad apples Facebook and the Toronto Star are catching from photos and YouTube videos and think it’s just not necessary.

Police under fire as fresh statistics show charges dropped in 59% of G20 cases [Toronto Star]
Difficult to hold police accountable in G20 aftermath [Globe and Mail]