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Guardian journalist Jesse Rosenfeld released after being beaten and arrested by Toronto police at G20

| June 27, 2010
Guardian journalist Jesse Rosenfeld released after being beaten and arrested by Toronto police at G20

8 p.m. EST Sunday. Update: Jesse Rosenfeld has been released from custody, says family, and is doing well. 

A journalist on assignment for The Guardian newspaper was arrested and beaten by police officers at the site of a peaceful demonstration on The Esplanade near the G20 security fence in downtown Toronto at approximately 11:00 p.m. on June 26, 2010. Having been punched in the stomach and elbowed in the back by officers, it is believed that Jesse Rosenfeld, a 26-year-old writer from Toronto, was then taken to the temporary detention facility on Eastern Avenue in Toronto.

Rosenfeld had already filed a story for The Guardian, the United Kingdom--based newspaper founded in 1821, but was not able to receive media accreditation as the RCMP had dragged its heels through the accreditation process. However, Rosenfeld clearly identified himself to police as a journalist.

Steve Paikin, the Gemini-nominated TVOntario personality who was also covering the protest via Twitter witnessed the incident. The following are Paikin's tweets journaling the arrest and beating:
 
"they repeated they would arrest me if i didn't leave. as i was escorted away from the demonstration, i saw two officers hold a journalist."
https://twitter.com/spaikin/status/17137794505
 
"the journalist identified himself as working for 'the guardian.' he talked too much and pissed the police off. two officers held him...."
https://twitter.com/spaikin/status/17137826780
 
"a third punched him in the stomach. totally unnecessary. the man collapsed. then the third officer drove his elbow into the man's back."
https://twitter.com/spaikin/status/17137863106
 
"the officer who escorted me away from the demo said, 'yeah, that shouldn't have happened.' he is correct. there was no cause for it."
https://twitter.com/spaikin/status/17137918390
 
"the demonstration on the esplanade was peaceful. it was like an old sit in. no one was aggressive. and yet riot squad officers moved in."
https://twitter.com/spaikin/status/17138017712
 
Rosenfeld's family is livid that police would violate the rights of anyone but especially a journalist on assignment, and are supporting Jesse in this matter. Rosenfeld's father, Mark, is available for comment, as is Jesse's girlfriend and fellow journalist Carmelle Wolfson. Rosenfeld will be available for comment following his release.
 
Contact information:
Mark Rosenfeld, father
Carmelle Wolfson,
Adam Chaleff-Freudenthaler, friend

Rosenfeld spoke at a rabble-sponsored event this week. You can watch the video here.

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Comments

@nunc:  the point isn't what you or mine or anyone's opinion of jesse rosenfeld is, it makes no difference whether he is a stoner liberal or a right-wing fascist, the point is that he was detained and excessively beaten for simply attending a protest and attempting to write about it. this is bigger than your personal distaste for this man, it is about not allowing police to get away with needless brutality against peaceful protesters when they do nothing to the violent ones. 

in regards to how the media has handled reporting on this event i have one thing to say, any person off the street can say there were burning cop cars on queen street and on king on saturday, that much is obvious. the job of the media is to analyze these events and report the truth on both the police's failure to prevent these activities and their subsequent completely unnecessary and unprovoked actions against the peaceful elements of the march, events which are undeniably true through eyewitness accounts and photographic evidence.

it is absolutely not the responsibility of other protesters to stop the violent provocateurs, we came for peace not to fight. isn't that why we spent 1 billion dollars on police and security?

also sadly enough there are many things people at the protests were trying to say, unfortunately because of the property damage they probably wont be heard. but anyway i'll try to give some of them a voice, apologies to any and all that i forget:

greenpeace and other environmentalists

amnesty international

native rights groups

animal rights groups

the unions

church leaders

anti-war activists

LGBT rights 

Legalization of marijuana

Protesters from occupied regions around the world including but not limited to:

Kashmir
Iraq
Afghanistan
Sri Lanka
China and more

and also a whole slew of people just generally dissatisfied with the wasteful, oppressive, failing corporate structure that controls the world and places greater value on broken glass than on broken faces

Thanks for proving the truth of my last sentence.

@taratundra:  My point was not that he deserved to be beaten, if in fact he was.  My point was that I couldn't think of a less sympathetic person to portray himself as a victim of the police--or a less trustworthy one.  He's a smarmy, whiney fameball, and if this is to be the voice of "the cause," you might as well write it off now.  For the love of everything, find a better person to be the face of overpolicing.  By the sound of it, there was a peaceful group mass-arrested today.  I'd wager any one of them would make a better case for hearing out both sides and focusing on the real message-based protestors over the violent ones.

@M. Spector:  As soon as things descend into violence, that's the storyline.  Were "the left" not to give that as much attention as "the public" at large, it would simply be harming itself.  One can argue whether this is a valid decision or not, but a "movement" brings people with it--it doesn't alienate them and then criticize them for not knowing well enough to belong.  If the goal is a "movement," you have to bring people along.  When you've got one person setting cars on fire and another trying to talk to you--even another thousand trying to talk to you--it seems understandable (not necessarily "correct," but understandable) that people will focus on the fire.  I wonder what goodwill protestors would have earned had they been able to disarm the violent element.  Seems to me you start bringing people with your movement by earning some goodwill with the crowd you're trying to convince.  But are the protests at the G20 even trying to convince anyone of anything?

Many people were brutalized by police this weekend.

Yet the chorus of outrage from the left is directed almost entirely at vandalism of property, while the police are assumed to be our friends and protectors.

Funny how this mirrors exactly the reaction of the corporate media and the political right! 

thanks:  ...or this article...?

http://www.u.tv/News/Canada-Israels-new-defender/8011af3c-861f-4c88-89c7...

 

nunc: "I don't know a single person who hasn't come across him and felt the same."

I somehow think that we'd want to hold our cops and government to higher standards than how they "felt" about someone as justification for beating them and arresting them. N'est-ce pas?

was he targetted in Toronto for writing this article?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/jun/25/g20-g8

Please.  I remember Jesse well from McGill, and he's an insufferable, self-aggrandizing fool.  The sort of kid who reeked of pot 24/7, might refuse to write a midterm in solidarity with the Intifada, and assumed these made him interesting.  I defy anyone to find a less sympathetic "victim" of police overreacting, and I wouldn't give the police the benefit of the doubt in any situation... but this.  I don't know a single person who hasn't come across him and felt the same.  There's not a glimmer of doubt that he was there primarily to protest and file some crap gonzo report on it.  But by all means, rabble.ca, let's see if you let a contrary posting stand...

This is why it is so important for people to go to protests, to see and experience how militarized police tactics are so incredibly wrong for a democracy. It is possible for governments to host international summits without these tactics. Orderly and transparent meetings are something that any legitimate government holds as a normal matter of business, and in Canada we know how to do this because it's done every day in every community in the country.  As a democracy we should not shift to holding government meetings behind walls and surrounded by police. For the government to fail with the G20 meeting to the degree we saw yesterday speaks to wrongness of its approach - from building a billion dollar fortress surrounded by a fence to having masked police officers marching around like soldiers. 

Imagine if this how we generally policed our concerts, sporting events and fairs?  We'd be living in a riotess and disorderly place and be under constant fear and tension. The police here don't generally gear up with masks and line up like soldiers for these events, opting for much smarter tactics like looking friendly, being visible but not threatening, and confronting disruptive people quickly and in ways that calm things down, rather than build up tension and make matters worse. Even when the crowd is drunk and in a rage following a sporting event we don't see police make matters worse, with most times the police in these events doing what it can to bring things down a notch, rather than trap people and make matters worse.

The only time I saw police at a community event (other than a protest) try the riot-gear approach was in Seattle on Mardi Gras in 2001, and that resulted in a riot and a death.  Rather than diffuse things, the police were tense from the start of the night and then tried to contain things - much like how police will pen in protesters at major events such as the G20 summit. 

I was shocked to experience this kind of situation at the 2004 Republican convention in NY, when part of a peaceful march that I was in was suddenly cut off, divided into small clusters, then trapped and finally had police motorcycles driven from behind and into the crowd.  People started to panic, and since there was no way out our behaviour as group became more dangerous.  This was a terrible experience, since it seemed that the only intent of the police was to scare us, not to make us or the people around us safer.  Since we were entirely peaceful for more than a hour long march that was about to end as peacefully as it had started, and were part of a well-organized group that was led by clergy and community leaders, it made little sense to pen us in and frighten us. I saw this at the WTO protests in Seattle as well, and in many of the anti-war protests in the lead up to the current US war in Iraq. The police tactics make things worse, when there are ways to ensure safety that work with, and not against, the protest.  Most people at protests want only to be heard, and want to be heard in ways that reflect their values as peaceful people in support of justice and democracy.

These sorts of militant police tactics make matters worse, and should not be part of civic discourse in a democracy such as ours. For a billion dollars, the government can certainly do a better job organizing its summits - in ways that bring people together, allow diverse voices to be heard, maintain safety for everyone and that are transparent and orderly. Look at the alterative, which violates our basic values as a democratic and just society and messes up our neighbourhoods.

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