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Community groups launch their own investigation into police actions during the G20 Summit

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"Mummy, what happened?"

Those were the first words uttered by a little girl when she saw her mother wearing a huge bandage around her left wrist and hand.

"How do you tell a five-year-old that mummy was beaten by police?" said Jean McDonald at a press conference Tuesday announcing the launch of a "People's" investigation into the actions of the police during the G20 Summit weekend.

"It's hard to do that in a way that's not going to terrify your child, but is also honest and real and describes what happened."

On Saturday during the G20 Summit weekend, McDonald and her partner were near the front lines with other protesters at Queen and John Streets when she said police moved in quickly, swinging their batons.

"I saw them coming towards us and I was trying with my partner to move back," said McDonald. "That's when they struck both of us several times."

McDonald suffered several blows to her left hand and her partner was hit numerous times on his torso and shoulder.

"My baby finger was basically shattered."

Later, when McDonald went to see a surgeon, she was shocked when he described it as "in pieces."

McDonald told a crowded room full of reporters and television cameras how terrifying that weekend was for her.

"When I look at the videos (of other protesters) I get shaky and feel nauseous because of the psychological impact of that kind of police violence," said the York University Ph.D. candidate.

"That kind of police presence on our streets just gives me chills to think about it."

But at the same time, she said it’s given her a glimpse into the research she carries out about violence against women living with precarious immigration status in Toronto.

"Women in that situation have to deal with this kind of violence and fear walking the streets every day," said McDonald, who also sustained a small fracture in her wrist.

Even now, McDonald admitted that she has to step back and take some deep breaths when she's in a large crowd or sees a police officer.

"But racialized communities across the city and country have to deal with this type of violence on a daily basis."

Nathan Prier was at the Justice for Our Communities march the previous day, where he saw an escalated police presence that he feared would lead to a crackdown on individual civil liberties on Saturday and Sunday.

"When we reached Queen and John (on Saturday) we were advanced upon by a line of riot police," said Prier. "For standing near riot police I was batoned in the face."

He suffered a concussion, requiring seven stitches to close a gash on the right side of his forehead.

"There was a gentleman next to me that the Street Medics deemed to be in critical condition," said Prier, adding that police wouldn't allow an ambulance into the area.

"The Medics were forced to make a makeshift stretcher to carry him out of there."

Prier pointed out that this altercation occurred before any police cars were set on fire or any windows were smashed along Queen and Yonge Streets.

After being released from Mount Sinai Hospital, Prier went home but returned to the front lines at a Jail Solidarity rally on Sunday at the Eastern Avenue Detention Centre.

"In front of the Detention Centre with people sitting down and singing, a van full of unmarked police officers pulled up, jumped into the crowd and grabbed individuals randomly who were arrested and beaten," he said.

"Thirty seconds later, a line of riot police marched against the peaceful protesters, firing rubber bullets."

Still shaken by what he experienced, Prier said "it was a horrible experience to see that level of police brutality," but after hearing from the detainees about what they went through he considered himself fortunate to have "only received a concussion."

Dr. Abeer Majeed, a family physician and member of Toronto Street Medics, was on the streets during the G20 Summit weekend, providing emergency care to injured protesters.

"It is of great concern to us medics that there has not yet been any meaningful, binding public inquiry launched into large scale extreme violence we witnessed against people exercising their right to dissent and bystanders," said Majeed.

Majeed and her colleagues treated protesters "with serious trauma from blows to the head by police batons, fractures and soft tissue injuries."

She noted that the majority of injuries treated did not take place during the rampage on Saturday afternoon, when store windows were smashed.

Majeed was on the south lawn at Queen's Park on Saturday afternoon when she witnessed injuries caused by charging horses, pepper spray and blows to the head and bodies by police batons.

"Most of those injured fell behind police lines," she said. "Street Medics were prevented from reaching and providing care to them by the police."

Street Medics spoke with many released detainees "exhibiting symptoms of significant psychological distress" and its members were running all over the place trying to find or replace people's medications following their release from detention.

As a result, the Toronto Community Mobilization Network (TCMN) decided to launch a People's investigation "into the severe and widespread abuses of police power" that happened during the G20 Summit weekend.

Representatives from NGOs, academics, community groups, legal and medical professionals and residents plan to produce a report calling for formal charges and terminations against those deemed to have been responsible for the "abuses" that took place during the last weekend in June.

"We are aware that the rogue officers were not acting alone," said Farrah Miranda, an organizer with the TCMN.

"They were (allegedly) part of a coordinated conspiracy by police chiefs and politicians that led to injuries, detentions and the largest mass arrest in modern Canadian history."

The TCMN is asking members of the public to come forward and assist in the investigation by submitting photos, video or testimony, but warned they cannot ensure the confidentiality of any submissions.

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