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G8/G20 Communiqué: The French connection

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For the G8 and G20 Summits in Huntsville and Toronto, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) recruited more than 500 Québéc police officers to assist with policing and security. These officers fell under the Integrated Security Unit (ISU) command during the weekend.

The total cost for security and police for the Summits was estimated at -- and this figure was released before the actual Summits took place -- more than $1 billion dollars. Final totals and costs are currently not available to the public.

To note, the French police force brought with it the experience of policing the FTAA/ZLEA protests in Québéc City in April 2001. The Montréal police force also has experience with riots from policing the aftermath of Montréal Canadiens NHL playoff games (win or lose).  Or when punk rockers rioted in Montréal on October 14, 2003, after hearing the punk band Exploited's concert was cancelled.

In the aftermath of the G20 Summit protests in Toronto that saw 1,090 people arrested/detained by the ISU, police in Toronto acknowledged they had targeted Québécois for traffic stops during the G20 summit.

In another incident, about 50 Québécois were taken into custody in a mass arrest on the morning of Sunday June 27, 2010 at the University of Toronto graduate student union's building where they had been sleeping. Police allege that during its raid, it found "street-type weaponry."

The G20 security team firmly denied that Québécois activists were being discriminated against.

"There was no targeting of any type of group," Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. David Woodford, a spokesman for the summit's Integrated Security Unit (ISU), told the media.

Busloads of Québécois activists made the trek to Toronto for their August 23, 2010 court appearances only to be told to return in October instead. They felt this was more than just a procedural inconvenience since they will have to make arrangements to make the trek to Toronto again which can affect school and work plans or parenting arrangements.

*

Regarding the conduct of the G20 police -- which has triggered a broad-based call for an inquiry -- a Montréal based lawyer announced late last month that he intends to launch a lawsuit against the Montréal Police Service.  

Montréal civil rights lawyer Julius Grey has called the treatment of G20 prisoners in Toronto "torture" and sent a warning letter to the Montréal Police Service with the intent to sue the force for collaborating in a "flagrant abuse of power."

"Grey has no jurisdiction to act in Ontario, but said he has sent a legal warning to the Montréal force, which had many officers participate in the security operation during the June Summits as part of the ISU."

Grey told the Toronto Star that Montréal officers can't escape responsibility simply because they weren't in charge: "We consider them collaborators even under the Toronto Police command."

*

In a solidarity statement by the Montréal based, Anti-Capitalist Convergence (CLAC) released on August 23, 2010, it announced that the Convergence supports the G20 arrestees from Québéc and elsewhere.

The statement reads, "The G20 hid behind a $1 billion dollar-plus security operation in the streets of Toronto. That unprecedented expense is also reflected in the 'conspiracy' charges against many protesters (including dozens from Montréal), are nothing more than an escalated attempt to criminalize dissent and organizing. In response, we know that it is not about who is guilty or innocent, but rather how we struggle and fight together for justice."

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