Two years after the event, the flak continues to fly, but justice remains elusive.
With no open, unlimited public enquiry, and after several ‘reviews’ and reports, only a couple of dozen cops have been accused of misdeeds under administrative police rules. No criminal charges have been laid. No firings. No resignations have occurred.
The latest report, by Ontario’s police watchdog, Gerry McNeilly, found excessive use of force and rampant Charter of Rights violations. No wonder. Cops used ‘kettling’ tactics at least ten times during the Toronto G20 Summit. Over 1,100 people were arrested and held for hours, or days, in filthy, overcrowded metal cages. Judges subsequently dismissed or set aside most of the charges. Only 24 of 317 charged were convicted. Meanwhile, police received extravagant amounts of overtime and vacation pay to ‘work’ the gathering of leaders of the major capitalist powers in the downtown core. Some cops made more than $14,000 for a few days’ attendance. The bill was an astounding $1 Billion – just to facilitate elite approval of the austerity agenda now in noxious full bloom.
McNeilly’s report stands in stark contrast to Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair’s review. Blair acknowledged that police were “overwhelmed”, but downplayed the extent of their brutality, their Charter rights violations, unlawful mass arrests and appalling detention conditions.
Instead of public accountability, the norm has been stonewalling and failure to disclose evidence. McNeilly puts this down to ‘mistakes’ and ‘poor planning’. That misses the mark. Toronto Summit policing reflected state repression evident at such events before, and since June 2010 – from Quebec City and Genoa, Italy in 2001, to the anti-NATO protests in Chicago, May 2012. These repugnant practices will not end soon, as they are the hyped establishment response to resistence to their ignoble agenda.
While labour and the left should continue to press for prosecution of cop criminals, from top to bottom, our efforts should be waged without illusions. Democracy and capitalism are simply incompatible – increasingly so in the throes of economic crisis. Fundamental change is necessary. — BW