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G8/G20 Communique: The power to bear witness

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Turns out, the Police and the Toronto Community Mobilization Network are both seeking the public's help regarding the G20 Summit protests that took place in Toronto; especially the events that took place between Friday June 25 and Sunday June 27, 2010. Both announced their intention to gather photo and video evidence submitted by the public at official press conferences, with two very different intentions.

In a society where cameras and instant access to the Internet are changing the way we all view and record demonstrations, both the police and protesters want to harness the power of the public to bear witness to public events.

Police seek pictures to help root out G20 suspects:

Quote:  "It will take six months to sift through 'thousands and thousands' of pictures and videos in the largest image-scanning probe the Toronto police service has ever undertaken.

'I want them to understand they are going to be found. They are going to be apprehended and they are going to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,' said Det. Sgt. Gary Giroux.

'I have extremely aggressive officers that have been assigned to me who would like nothing better than to go out and find these individuals who victimized our city,'  he added".

Meanwhile, the Toronto Community Mobilization Network has launched its own G20 People's Investigation calling on citizens of Toronto to report in cases of police brutality and disrespect of civil liberties.

The Toronto Community Mobilization Network (TCMN) calling on the public to come forward with photos, video, and eye witness accounts of police violence against civilians during the G20 summits in Toronto. "This evidence will be used to ensure that there are consequences for all those who beat and injured people, and for the masterminds who conspired to plan and give orders for the widespread police violence and repression that was experienced by thousands on the streets."

Can you identify these violent thugs?

Look at the images here. If you can identify one of these police officers, please email [email protected]

Did you come in contact with the police or witnessed a police violence incident?

Please fill out this form and share widely with friends and networks. We know that 1,090 people were arrested and at least 275 were charged and are hoping to gain accounts of everyone of those as well as the intense violence that took place that did not result in formal arrests.

Do you have photographs of Police Violence?

You can share images through two ways:

--Email pictures to [email protected] (Will not be shared unless you give us permission to do so)

--If you've uploaded images on Flickr, please tag them #G20PoliceViolence

Do you have videos of Police Violence?

You can share images through two ways:

--Email videos or links to videos to [email protected] (Will not be shared unless you give us permission to do so)

--If you've uploaded images on YouTube, please tag them #G20PoliceViolence

If you would like to stay in touch, please add your email address to the mailing list (Scroll down on the tool bar to the right)

Here are some videos you should see:


Then on Wednesday afternoon (Today), Toronto police staged a hastily called press conference where they unvelied a G20 Most Wanted list of alleged vandals.

Quote: (Det. Sgt. Gary) Giroux mentioned that investigators believe one of the men pictured at the conference was responsible for smashing fist-sized holes into a series of window panes in the Commerce Court complex, near King and Yonge Sts.

The photos, which were largely delivered to police stations by citizens, have been sent through face-identifying technologies, but police haven't been able to identify any of them yet.

However Giroux is hopeful that by releasing the photos the public will help them figure out who took part in the violent vandalism on June 26.


Regarding the role of the media to bear witness to public events, I know I feel - the word is not "safer" but perhaps "better" - knowing that someone/media is around to bear witness to what happens at a demonstrations. It's too easy to get into a "he said/she said" with the police after they have beaten the crap out of you, it's another thing to confront the police with raw, unedited footage concerning cases of police misconduct and brutality.

With the quick and wide power of the Internet, citizens have balanced out the power of bearing witness and recording memories of confrontations with the state. Yes, the police are still watching and boldly videotaping demos (police on foot, bike and cameras attached to the top of police vans) but the public is watching and boldly photographing and videographing demonstrations and the police, too. For a great article on the subject of new media and activism, please check out:  Coverage of the G20 proved Twitter's news edge by Antonia Z (follow her on Twitter: @AntoniaZ)

Quote: "Suddenly, casual usual users of Twitter, those had been previously only signalling their personal thoughts and daily activities, discovered an entirely new way to get news. That was evidenced by the hundreds of new followers gained by Paikin, Hirsh and other journalists using Twitter that night.

That the latest media - whether newspapers, radio, TV or telephones - fuel political and cultural revolutions is not a new idea, of course...

Still, not only does the medium carry the message, it serves to transform it.

And so, there was a clear dichotomy between television coverage of events and the information available to those following the Twitter "hashtags," essentially search terms that channel data streams (#G20, #G20report, #G20mobilize)."


Here's a video of Paul Jay from the Real News Network interviewing Jonathan Kay from the National Post concerning the role of the press at demonstrations.

Regarding a comment directed to Kay concerning the mass arrest of peaceful demonstrators at the Novotel Hotel on Saturday June 26, 2010 into Sunday June 27, 2010, Paul Jay asks Jonathan Kay about the role of the media in that situation since TVO's Steven Paikin was asked to leave the peaceful sit in before the police moved in.

Jonathan Kay responds: "I was actually in a similar situation when I was at Queen and Bloor. I was on a side street trying to cover the action. A group of police came and told us all, 'you have to leave or you're going to get arrested'

I was presented with the opportunity, (I said) 'I'm a journalist, I work for the National Post'. It didn't matter. I had to leave the scene. Like a number of other people who were subsequently detained, I could have stood my ground and said, 'you know what, I'm not leaving the scene, arrest me!' I would have spent the night in jail and had a good story. But I didn't do that. I left."

Question by Paul Jay: "If journalists leave the scene then where is freedom of the press? I'm not talking about getting in the way of the police's work. But there is a difference between leaving the scene and getting in the way. If you can't remove yourself just out of the field that the police are operating and then report on the police, how is the public to know if the police are abusing their powers or not? Where is the freedom of the press in that?"

Response by Jonathan Kay: "In terms of police abuse, I don't think I've ever been in a situation where police behaviour was more closely scrutinized."

Johanthan Kay goes on to refute that there were any cases of injury to activists or cases of police misconduct during the G20 protests. See the whole interview here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o12jgapekoo

I want to note here that I chose not to leave that scene at Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue Sunday night. And I was detained for my refusal to abandon the story because of police threat. You can follow rabble.ca on Twitter @rabbleca or myself @krystalline_k


Meanwhile, in terms of bearing witness and bringing about justice, the Conservative Government under the command of Stephen Harper has blocked attempts to probe police conduct at the G20 summit in Toronto.

Quote: "Conservative members of the Commons public safety and national security committee talked out the clock preventing a motion to review controversial security matters, arguing it would only lend a voice to the thugs, hooligans and anarchists who traumatized Toronto last month during the gathering of world leaders.

Tory MP Dave MacKenzie, former police chief in Woodstock, Ont., urged the committee to "reject calls to promote the agenda of the violent mob . . . who set fire to police cars and damaged property during the G20 in Toronto."

Opposition MPs said the federal government's real reason was far more cynical, arguing it desperately wants to avoid explaining why security cost well over $1 billion for the G8 and G20 summits and yet black-clad protesters still did millions of dollars damage in downtown Toronto while at police stood by and watched."

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