Police Violence At Occupy Toronto’s New Occupation…

An Occupier who was severely beaten for filming the police

You know me, I’m the guy who stood-up at the planning meeting for Occupy Vancouver and stuck-out like a sore thumb after saying “Aren’t the police members of the 99%?” I meant that then, as I mean it now- that said, the police who came to our encampment at Occupy Toronto today have shown that this part of our family is rather dysfunctional…

First, I must make a disclaimer here- the occupiers who were involved in this situation could have handled themselves better. It was a difficult situation, and a couple of them got caught in the emotion of the situation. That said, their reactions were not nearly on-par with the beatings they received by the police tonight.

The Occupier who was arrested for speaking too loudly. (the officer in yellow on the right-hand side who protested loudly & later physically about being filmed)

That said, the police who were involved in this situation should be deeply ashamed of themselves. Rather than de-escalate the situation, they turned-up the volume to maximum and cranked-up the violence in a way I never could have imagined for such a situation. Do they not receive training for this sort of thing? Or, perhaps they slept through this part of the training?

In this first video you will see the officer in-question asking the Occupiers to stop filming him. The video is being filmed by the Occupier in the picture at the top of this article- as you will see, she turned the camera away from the officer, despite having the right to film in a public space. So, this part is good, though telling about what would happen shortly.

The next stage is where one of our Occupiers makes a mistake and begins to lose his control. Unfortunately, rather than properly assess the situation and de-escalate, they immediately jump at him and throw on handcuffs. If it weren’t for their overeagerness to arrest this occupier, the situation would probably not have gone much further.

But it did…

I’ll leave both of these videos without adding commentary. But I will say one thing loud & clear. The police screwed-up here, big time. Good policing means to de-escalate a situation, and they failed miserably in this situation. And, it seems a big part of it is due to one particular officer not wanting his work to be filmed.

The part of this situation that really disturbs me is that we had the permission of the property manager to be in this space. The only thing he asked of us was that the homeless occupiers don’t put up any tents. And they didn’t have any tents up this day. So, it needs to be investigated why the police decided they would come and try to evict the occupation this afternoon.

Regardless, what happened today didn’t have to have gone this way. I’m sure that the Occupiers involved will learn a lesson or two- let’s hope that the police do also. This is not the sort of thing that should be happening in Canada. And, the level of injuries faced by the Occupiers are not nearly equal to the threat they posed to the police.

Put simply, they acted in a brutish and unprofessional manner today…

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    • James on March 30, 2012 at 18:28
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    Fuck, you just don’t get it do you? Two cops, alone trying to peacefully deal with what, a dozen, people, 2 of which were getting agressive with them, one of which by your own admission may have mental health issues. As some one who repeatedly claims to be picked on, I would have thought you would have some insight into why the officers reacted the way they did.
    I would also point out that I didn’t fail to notice you immediatetly ended the second video when the cop started getting assaulted in the background.
    I really hope I see a situation like that in my nieghbourhood, because I will even out a fight any day. And I really hope the folks in the video do have the excuse of mental illness, because otherwise you are just cowards.

    1. I understand what you are saying- and I don’t support the mistakes made of the occupiers involved. That said, had the police acted more professionally, this never would have happened.

      The occupiers has specific permission to be in this space- the police who came into the situation obviously didn’t look into the history of what happened on Monday. Rather, they went all Dirty Harry on the Occupiers and started being aggressive.

      Perhaps I’m a bit over-emotional right now and overreacting- that said, I really don’t believe that’s true. I’ll come back to this comment tomorrow after I’ve calmed down and distilled the information some more and will then write further…

    • James on March 30, 2012 at 18:42
    • Reply

    Well, I appreciate that much.

    1. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what happened last night and haven’t changed my mind. Yes, the Occupiers could have handled this better- but, so could have the police, and they are supposed to be trained for this.

      Professional policing dictates that they should always be trying to de-escalate the situation. And, here, they did the exact opposite. Besides, we had permission of the land owner to be in this space, so the situation was uncalled for.

      I’m deeply disturbed to see how the police did such a bad job in this situation. The level of violence they enacted was not nearly equal to the situation they were trying to rectify. The officers involved need to be put on administrative leave, and they should be investigated and re-trained before they go back on the job…

  1. This is wrong on both ends. Im upset, youre all upset, the police are being harassed to act this way me thinks, theyre gettingmore violent. One man who predicted violence with Occupy I’m suspecting may be the wizard behind the curtain-Souros, who likely is jacking off to these patheticically sad videos.

  2. @ Greg of course youre emotional this is beyond violent!!! and unnecessary.

    • violent agression=small cahonas on March 30, 2012 at 19:30
    • Reply

    From my vantage point the Occupiers did nothing wrong. What happened has literally sickened me. Speaking up about having rights in Canada and doing so passionately in a raised voice does not equate to mental health issues and has absolutely nothing to do with how the police behaved. They acted like thugs and goons.

  3. Cops are above the law.

    “There appeared to be on the part of certain police witnesses and certain police associations an almost Pavlovian reaction against a civilian agency (the SIU) investigating the conduct of police officers … and against the idea such an agency could conduct an investigation which could be fair to police officers,” the judge wrote.

    “This is particularly surprising when… in about 97% of the cases, the investigation ***exonerates the subject officer.”


  4. “There is an unofficial crime called “Contempt of cop.”

    …and the idea is you may not get a conviction, but you surely can give someone a ride and ruin their day,” Wortley said.


    Experts shocked by alleged arrest, strip search of Sean Salvati prior to G20

  5. Surprise! Plenty of FAT to be trimmed from the Police shiny toy budget.

    Chief Bill Blair noted in this budget request in 2010 the police responded to 578,000 calls for service to the end of November — about 630,000 for the full year. There are 5,600 officers, which means that on average each officer responded to about 110 calls in 2010.

    Since each officer works about 220 shifts per year, this means that each officer responded to one call for service every two shifts.

    I think most residents of the city will be astounded to learn Toronto’s finest respond to so few calls — only one every second shift. This is not a productive use of the time of city employees paid about $75,000 a year.

    And it is not as if officers are making arrests on every shift. The average number of arrests per officer in Toronto, as it is in other Canadian cities, is seven to eight per year, that is, one arrest every six weeks, only one crime of which is a crime of serious violence.


  6. Thanks for posting this. Is it me, or do a lot of these ugly situations seem to arise when police are being embarrassed by protestors rather than being physically threatened by them? I mean no disrespect to officers doing their jobs, and it looks like the people getting arrested got rowdy which didn’t help things, but my point is that a social emergency doesn’t call for preemptive physical force.
    Regardless of a person’s political agenda, mental illness, economic status, or perhaps unwise choice of words or tone, police shouldn’t be able to arrest or assault them for standing in a public place and using their voice.
    And assuming they can, and we as a society are okay with that, what does it say about the state of our democracy? Is that really the price we want to pay for a quiet walk home from work?
    This really saddens me, for everyone’s sake including the police.

    1. Katherine,

      You hit the hammer right on the nail here. This situation was much more about the cops trying to ‘save face’ than it was justified force. In some countries they select people for the police force based on having personalities that won’t escalate this way. It seems that, in Canada, we have adopted American hiring practices- looking for cops who will do the opposite.

      This whole situation leaves me deeply saddened, and feeling much less safe here in Canada…

    • James on March 31, 2012 at 08:59
    • Reply

    Which is why you will end up getting beaten down every time.

    • Thomas on April 1, 2012 at 03:22
    • Reply

    People who join the force generally tend to be people with exceptionally small egos. The only way of de-escalating a situations like these is to not give in to the tendency to be human (get angry because people are nagging you, abusing their authority or insulting your dignity).

    Sadly (but very understandably) the occupy movement tends to attract people who’ve been victimized by the system, and are therefore more likely to have a low tolerance for police provocation. Myself included.

    Situations like these tend to hurt the movement, which is why I think it’s as important to condemn the behavior of the protesters, if not more so.

    • Seriously? on April 1, 2012 at 19:13
    • Reply

    Small egos?? That’s a pretty broad statement that you can’t support with anything other than your own bigoted opinion. Do you make statements like that about other identifiable groups as well? Maybe black people or south east Asians?

    Cops will only try to de-scalate the situation to a point. Then they will start arresting you for the infractions they are trying to convince you to stop doing. If at that point you don’t follow instructions and allow yourself to be easily handcuffed then it is you that has the problem and not them. The law provides for the use of enough force to stop you from committing the offence. If that means they must wrestle you to the ground and cuff you because you didn’t cooperate then that sucks for you. To lie uncooperative on the ground and scream I am not resisting while you are clearly not cooperating doesn’t make it any more true for you guys than it does for all those drunk asshats that do it on “Cops”

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