Toronto police are facing another G20 related lawsuit after a group of female activists alleged the police politically profiled them for arrest during the G20 Summit in Toronto.
During the two most intense days of demonstration against the G20, 1,105 people were arrested by police – the largest mass-arrest in Canadian peace time history.
While the epicenter of the G20 demonstrations were Friday June 25 to Sunday June 27,2012, the city was packed throughout the week with police officers from Toronto, Peel and other districts as well as contingents from the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), as well as members of Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).
Reports of activists being profiled and stopped by police began earlier in the week with stories of officers stopping people on the street if they approached the security fence or riding the GO train into the city for the Friday demonstration against the G20 in downtown Toronto.
Complaints of activist profiling were even noted the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) and National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) report titled: Breach of the Peace: A report into the G20 by CCLA and NUPGE.
It was noted in the report that activists who provided testimony for the report felt targeted, “Arbitrary searches occurred in countless locations across the city, in many instances several kilometres from the G20 Summit site.”
One of these instances of alleged arbitrary arrests is now being challenged in court.
In a statement of claim filed on August 1, 2012, by lawyer Davin Charney against the Toronto Police Service, Charney is representing a group of seven female demonstrators from Hamilton, Ontario, who are suing the police for $1.4 million dollars claiming they were unfairly profiled, arrested and generally mistreated during the G20 Summit.
The women claim their profiling by police was based on their style of dress, the fact they wore backpacks and because as women they had “hairy leg[Ts.”
Their arrests occurred on June 27, 2010, after a dramatic day of demonstrations the day before. In their statement of claim, the group had just exited a downtown pizza place when they were surrounded by police, handcuffed and taken to the Eastern Avenue Detention Centre where they were held for more than twenty-four hours before finally being released without charges.
“[The police] followed a profile that was created by senior Toronto Police Service officers in targeting these seven individuals,” Charney told reporters outside Toronto police headquarters on Wednesday.
“That profile included markers such as people who have backpacks, lawyers’ numbers on their arms, people with Quebec licence plates, people speaking French, people wearing black clothing.
“My clients fit into that profile, to some extent. And that is why they were arrested, and that is why many people were arrested during the G20.”
Even more worrisome is one woman’s claim, yet to be proven in court, that she was sexual assaulted during her encounter with the police; to which the Breach of Peace report also notes of similar complaints.
One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Alicia Ridge alleges she was sexually assaulted during the roadside strip search in public after she left the restaurant, stating that she was frisked by a male Toronto police officer despite the fact that there were female officers around.
She spoke to the media on Wednesday stating, “It was a fairly pathetic rendition of a search, in that it was just a quick run of a hand up the leg followed by a swift ass grab. And there were lots of sexualized comments that went along with it.” She also accused officers of shouting derogatory and homophobic slurs, and told her, “to shave her legs”, she said.