Sunday, June 27, 2010

Protesters, police clash at detention centre

A riot squad used rubber bullets and blank rifle shots to drive back about 100 demonstrators at a seemingly peaceful sit-in outside a Toronto detention centre holding people arrested during the G20 summit protests.

About 100 people who had marched from downtown Toronto to the Eastern Avenue detention centre were engaged in a peaceful sit-in to show their solidarity with those who were detained, when police moved in on a known anarchist who had been sitting with the group.

The group was chanting "peaceful protest, peaceful protest," when police moved into the crowd, reported CTV's Lisa LaFlamme.

"Police moved into a crowd, where they saw one of the known anarchists," LaFlamme told CTV News Channel early Sunday afternoon. "He was sitting in a white t-shirt and jeans, he was sitting there quietly. The minute he stood up, police moved in on him, grabbed him, dragged him out, a little riot ensued."

Television images showed riot gear-clad officers running toward the scene, getting off buses, while officer officers surrounded protesters with batons out yelling "back up."

LaFlamme reported that three rubber bullets were fired into the crowd, hitting one girl in the face, but she appeared to be okay. Numerous protests were seen being taken into custody.

Toronto Police spokeman Tony Vella confirmed that two "muzzle blasts" were deployed at the scene. (Muzzle blasts are non-lethal discharges of high-pressure gas from a firearm.) Vella said a number of arrests have been made, and the individuals taken into custody had been identified as "wanted."

The skirmishes follow a number of arrests earlier Sunday. Police detained around 100 more people in connection with Saturday's violent protests against the G20 summit.

The latest arrests bring the number of people placed in detention since Saturday to nearly 600, not including those arrested outside the detention centre.

While the streets of Toronto were eerily calm early Sunday morning, dozens of police officers headed out to their positions across the downtown core and raided a building on the University of Toronto campus.

A spokesperson for the Integrated Security Unit said officers found a cache of "street-type weaponry" such as bricks.

"Our officers are out pro-actively looking for anybody with criminal intent," said Const. Samantha Nulle. "Today they located a large number of people, they intercepted them and they did locate a number of street weapons on them."

Those arrested were taken to the prisoner processing centre in the city's east end. They are not believed to be students.

CTV News Channel footage showed men and women of varying ages being escorted by police on the downtown University of Toronto campus. Many of them had their hands bound in flex ties.

Those arrested over the past 24 hours face a wide array of charges, from mischief and breach of the peace to assault, drug possession and dangerous weapons, reported CP24's Sue Sgambati from the processing centre.

"I'm told that some of these people will be released from this facility, the people on the relatively more minor charge of breach of the peace, and others will be taken to the special G20 court that has been set up in North York," Sgambati told CTV News Channel Sunday morning. "So it's no rest for police today."

Police said Sunday they are ready for whatever shape protests take after Saturday's march through downtown streets descended into chaos.

"Our officers have been doing this all week long, we're coming at this with a consistent, measured approach," Nulle said. "We are here to make sure that the fence stays secure and that all participants of the summit stay safe, in addition to the protesters themselves."


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