30 June 2010

Toronto Brutality - Now With Bicycle Cops

Just got this in an email from the war zone that is Toronto.

My name is Geoffrey Bercarich, age 26 and life long resident of Toronto, Canada. I was
attacked and held illegally by Toronto Police in the “g20 jail” on Sunday June 27th,
2010.

I was riding in a special critical mass of cyclists, there was 600 cylists riding in group to take the media spotlight away from the property damage done to the city core the day before.

The bike ride was peaceful and no street laws where broken. The mass ride was riding
along Yorkville and this is where I was attacked. A police cyclist blocked my path directly in front of me; another police cyclist struck me in the face, hitting my teeth with his fist.

Another police cyclist threw his bicycle into mine causing me to fall to the ground. The
squad of five police officers threw me onto the fallen police bike, pushing me down onto
the bicycle and beat me in the face and the groin. The officer that struck me first held
my knees open as another hit me repeatedly in the groin. I was then turned on to my
stomach and my face was smashed into the street repeatedly, leaving a pool of blood.
This all happened without any notification by the police officers as to what crime I
committed or why they were attacking me. As the beatings continued I repeated in a
strong voice, “I am not resisting.”

I was now on my stomach with my arms restrained behind my back with my face being
pushed into the street under the knee of another police officer. A large group of police
set up a line of police bikes to stop onlookers from getting a clear view on what was
taking place. The police threatened the witnesses with arrest under the charge of
obstruction of justice. As the beatings continued the officers repeatedly kneed me in the
head, lower and upper back. There is heavy bruising around my right shoulder, cuts and
bruises on my right knee and right elbow and my chin has a large cut that likely needed
stitches.

As I was being beaten, I cried out in extreme pain, “Stop the insanity.”
I was removed from the street, dragged into the near by parking structure on Yorkville
Avenue . The arresting officers’ number was 8114, and his commanding officer was Sgt.
Hicks. All other officers on site had no visible badge number and would not identify
themselves. The police told everyone in the parking structure to leave or face arrest
under the charge of obstruction of justice. They then spoke about taking me into a
corner without any cameras. I was barely conscious as the beatings continued against
the wall of the parking building. They threatened to beat me if i did not remain silent, i repeated one thing, “I am complying”.

The officers then read me my rights and told me I was under arrest for inciting. All I
could think about was my handcuffs, I could not move or feel my hands. I asked them
repeatedly to loosen my handcuffs. Finally after thirty minutes of the police pushing my
head into the wall, Sergeant Hicks ordered them to loosen my handcuffs. I was indebted
to his mercy.

I was sent to the G20 jail site on Eastern Avenue and Pape. I arrived at the makeshift
jail at 2pm, and I left by midnight. All charges dropped, no explanation given. I was let
go under a verbal promise not to go to a protest again. I am now in fear for my life, I live in this city, I am active in the public life and workings of the city. I fear for they will pick me up and bring me back to the detention center at anytime.
G20 Detention center on Eastern Avenue.

I was brought to the detention center at 2pm, I left at 12am, my life would change
between those ten hours. I was the first to be placed in one of ten holding cells. The
holding cells where in a giant studio space with extremely filthy floors. Vomit and piss
where present everywhere. The holding cell was ten feet wide and four feet deep. There
was a latrine in every holding cell, the latrine was full to the point where it was
overflowing onto the cells floor. I was the first to be brought into the holding cell.

By the end of the day 25 people where being held in that cell, and all of us were handcuffed for the entire duration of our stay, other people in other cells told us they have been there for more than thirty hours. The cells became overcrowded to a point where people where handcuffed to the floor outside the cells.

I was beaten bad by the police, I asked for a medic and was laughed at by every police
guard on duty. They told me there where more people hurt in worse ways then me. Not
one medic was ever seen and no one that I knew of received any medical attention. Of
the 25 people in my cell, half where not protesters, two needed medications that they
never received and myself with open wounds and a handcuffed, bruised arm and
shoulder.

We where given a two day old stale cheese and butter sandwich, and given a
small cup of water every five hours. The police guards had a unlimited supply of apples,
bottled water, roast beef sandwiches and chocolate covered strawberries that they were
eating in front of our cells. Some cell mates where so desperate for food they eat the
thrown away apple cores left on my the cell wall. No one in the entire holding facility got a phone call to the outside world. I have two friends that have yet to be seen or heard from for over three days.

As I was let out, the officer escorting me got lost, thereby taking me through most of the detention facility. No one person had received a phone call, and the people that have
specific charges laid against them were being held in one person cells that do not have
enough space to lie down. As I walked past their cages, i saw the look of fear, anxiety
and the loss of hope that can only be seen thorough the fear for losing ones life.
I now live under the fear that the Toronto police will raid my home and take me away to
the dentition center again. I fear I have gotten away with my freedom and they will take
it back at anytime.

Please help.
June 28th 2010
Geoffrey

29 comments:

Ryan said...

Toronto cops completely blunder this whole thing.
On the first day of the G20, when all the violent black bloc "protesters" were destroying everything, the police sat back. They even watched as their own cars were being smashed then set on fire.

On the second day when there was nothing but peaceful protests, including the large critical mass like ride, police seemed to pluck anyone and everyone.
International and even national media people were taken away to these holding cells.

This is what our $1 Billion of tax money went to.

lagatta à montréal said...

I hope Geoffrey got his bicycle back! That is ghastly, he was committing no crime. The repression of people involved in peaceful protests or simply happening to be in the area after the police did nothing to stop the black-bloc thugs seems a mystery unless it was all a way of justifying the billion-dollar price tag.

We are holding a peaceful demonstration in Montréal tomorrow (which is "Canada Day") about this mass repression of people doing absolutely nothing illegal or dangerous, many of whom were from Québec - the cops just arrested anyone they heard speaking French - I'm sure they scooped up a few tourists and business travellers.

Harper is supposed to be a fiscal conservative, but where is the fiscal restraint in blowing over a billion dollars on a summit meeting? On top of everything else, a hell of a lot of good could have been done with that amount of "our tax dollars". Eradicating polio or malaria? Fighting AIDS? Decent housing here or in poorer countries? Bicycle lanes in major cities here, or support to green transport initiatives in the developing world? The list is endless.

gingerbeard said...

I don't buy it. This is extreme, and beyond what has been reported as abuses by the police. However if it happened, get a lawyer. The detention centre was under constant video surveillance, so evidence of your abuse, of your requests for medical help and being denied, evidence of the police mistreating you in the detention centre will be available for the courts review.

I just have a hard time believing they went all Rodney King on you.

Anonymous said...

That's not the Toronto I learned to know in 2000/2001 anymore! Also then there was critical mass, and G8 summit. But in those days police was more relaxed. It hurts to see Toronto City becomming a kingdom of fear and tears!

Adam said...

"The police guards had a unlimited supply of apples,
bottled water, roast beef sandwiches and chocolate covered strawberries that they were
eating in front of our cells. Some cell mates where so desperate for food they eat the
thrown away apple cores left on my the cell wall."

Hahahaha. I was actually half believing this until I read about the food torture and chocolate covered strawberries. Pure propaganda.

Adam said...

Ryan, that's exactly what the Black Bloc does, agitate the police into aggressive response against peaceful demonstrations. It's Battle of Algiers Agitation 101. Still, it's rare that it leads to police throwing half eaten apple cores at prisoners while being fed chocolate covered strawberries. It is why I am almost completely convinced that this email was written by a member of the Black Bloc. It is propaganda, plain and simple.

Anonymous said...

I don't see any reason to disbelieve this account. I personally saw the police in supposedly bicycle-friendly Portland Oregon use similar brutal tactics on peaceful Critical Mass riders protesting the start of the Iraq war in 2003, and on routine Critical Mass rides in the period from 2003 to 2005 as well, and similar police tactics were used on CM participants by NYPD during the 2004 RNC.

Anonymous said...

"I don't buy it. This is extreme, and beyond what has been reported as abuses by the police."

That's your problem; you're only looking at the abuses being reported by the police.

The social (and increasingly mainstream) media is full of very similar stories to this.

Anonymous said...

I see two issue here, one everybody has seen what happens at all of the past G8, g20 meeting if your going to participate is any type of protest peaceful or not you should go in with your eyes open and realize that there is better then house odds your going to be arrested.
Second people most people where not locked up long enough to be that starving that they would be eating scrapes off the floor.

Adam said...

"I don't see any reason to disbelieve this account."

Do I believe that the police used extreme and unnecessary tactic to quell peaceful demonstrations? Oh, absolutely. That's the Black Bloc tactic, to paint the police into a corner where the police feel forced to do this. Sooner or later abuses will occur. It happens in city after city after city where the Black Bloc agitates. Do I believe the portrayal of the conditions the police kept the prisoners in? The vomit and urine mixing with discarded apple cores being eaten by starved prisoners? The chocolate covered strawberries was priceless. Do I believe the police held legs apart and targeted the genitals while striking repeatedly? This is propaganda. It isn't even particularly sophisticated propaganda. Cool it with the sexual masochism and the police guard feast gorging.

lagatta à montréal said...

I know some people who were arrested there - people my age (boomers) who had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the Black Block.

Police, even in democratic countries, can very easily abuse their power or mistreat groups of people they see as "antisocial". I don't see anything to doubt in this account - it wasn't describing mass killings, rapes or torture.

People in democracies have the right to peaceful protest without fear of arrest. Strangely, the police stood by while Black Block thugs were trashing stuff. This calls for an investigation.

By the way, a neighbourhood couple in their 80s were among those "kettled" for hours.

Adam said...

"I know some people who were arrested there - people my age (boomers) who had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the Black Block.

That's how the tactic works. They're not trying to get themselves arrested. They're trying to get YOU arrested so you'll develop sympathy for their position.

lagatta à montréal said...

I don't sympathise with the Black Block or approve their tactics in the least - I've been protesting long before most of them were born - for bicycle paths and other facilities, for one thing. We won those through peaceful mass action.

But I have, if possible, even less sympathy for people like Adam who laugh at the suffering of people who were brutalised by police. Yes, it can happen in democratic countries. That is why there must be review boards, and why we must speak out against such abuse.

Anonymous said...

That's how the tactic works. They're not trying to get themselves arrested. They're trying to get YOU arrested so you'll develop sympathy for their position.

So you're saying that the police are working in collusion with the Black Bloc? Sorry, but I'm not buying that.

Adam said...

lagatta à montréal, I'm not laughing at human suffering. I'm laughing at a disingenuous portrayal of the conditions. The description is a ruse.

I have no doubt that you've been protesting since before the Black Bloc. I also have little doubt that before the Black Bloc your experiences were not anything close to what has been experienced in every city in every protest since the Black Bloc has been employing these tactics to paint the police into a corner where they feel they have no choice but to stamp down on agitation with an iron fist. The Black Bloc is doing this on purpose. That is their primary tactic. It is Agitation 101. When your organization supports an unpopular position you use acts of violence to force authorities to stamp down on everybody, thereby infuriating the larger formerly unsympathetic and swaying them to your position.

Yes, the authorities are undermining the rights of otherwise passive protesters. Did that ever happen in the West in the 20 years prior to the advent of the Black Bloc? No. Does it happen at every World Bank or G20 conference now? Yes. Do you get it yet?

My point is this description of the conditions are completely unbelievable. It is propaganda on top of the already successful Black Bloc agitation. People are being unjustly detained, and the propagandist description of the detainment further conflates the exact scenario that was intended by the anarchist agitators in the first place.

Anonymous, "collusion." Der. Obviously not. The police are being manipulated, as are the peaceful protesters that are being detained.

Anonymous said...

means notting w/o pictures.

this man has injuries?
why not post the pics??

so far, i've seen words on a screen.

pretty low standard of evidence.

-shoe

Adam said...

But I ask you, were the officers laying on vomitorium couches and being hand fed their chocolate covered strawberries by slaves?

Again, not mocking human suffering. I'm sure the detainment conditions sucked. But what parts of the description am I supposed to believe and which ones am I supposed to accept as justifiable exaggerations? Obviously, the description is an exaggeration. They're eating chocolate frigging covered strawberries, for christ's sake. Please familiarize yourself with the term "unreliable narrator." It could not be more germane to this situation.

Anonymous said...

Its not propaganda. I was there. I saw him being knocked off his bicycle and beaten up by the police. The photo is here. http://www.ibiketo.ca/blog/2010/06/28/award-winning-bike-pirate-volunteer-arrested-during-g20


There are too many people with descriptions of the detention similar to Geoff's to be a conspiracy. Four of them are journalist who were arrested and detained by the police despite their media status and are now taking legal action against the police.

And for those of you who are blaming the victims for being in the area, the downtown core of Toronto is a thriving residential area. People were arrested going home, going grocery shopping, walking their dog, stepping out for a cigarette. What would be your response be if someone told you not to walk your dog for 72 hours?

If you chose to condone police violence because of the Black Bloc fine. But rest assured this entry is not propaganda.

veronica

Anonymous said...

Yes, the authorities are undermining the rights of otherwise passive protesters. Did that ever happen in the West in the 20 years prior to the advent of the Black Bloc? No. Does it happen at every World Bank or G20 conference now? Yes. Do you get it yet?

You are wearing rose colored glasses, my friend.

My point is this description of the conditions are completely unbelievable. It is propaganda on top of the already successful Black Bloc agitation. People are being unjustly detained, and the propagandist description of the detainment further conflates the exact scenario that was intended by the anarchist agitators in the first place.

According to my own sources, the Canadian news has carried numerous interviews with detainees that corroborate the story in the OP.

The police are being manipulated, as are the peaceful protesters that are being detained.

No, the police know exactly what they are doing.

PS-calling me on my spelling is chickensh*t.

Pierre Phaneuf said...

Two things: first, I hang my head in shame at what is happening in my country. This is a travesty.

Second, "black bloc" is a tactic used by various groups, of equally varied motivations, rather than the name of a specific group, be it anarchist or not.

Anonymous said...

Agent Provocateurs were actually outside police and or paramilitary "mercenaries" flown in and paid to ransack the city so they could turn the police loose....so much of this appears STAGED.

Boy on a bike said...

I'm over these masked loons and their antics. The sooner the police get orders to shoot on sight any looters or vandals at these summits, the better.

As for this "email from a friend" - pull the other leg.

lagatta à montréal said...

Shouldn't Mussolini-Boy be on a horse, not a bike?

And duh, no sympathies for the Black Block cretins... but armed squads of official thugs are rather more serious. Have several friends who fled countries where the cops have such powers.

Anonymous said...

Geoffrey, I don't now if you are reading these comments. I just wanted to say that I really feel for you. This sort of experience can turn one's world upside down. Essentially it's loss of human dignity; precisely what this of of oppressive behaviour aims to achieve.

I think you should seek psychological and spiritual help without reservation to be able to deal with what happened. Fear can be paralysing. By spiritual I don't mean established religion by the way. Legal measures would be good too but likely you need to cope with the trauma and shock first. I wish you all the best and hope that you'll be riding your bike confidently through, the streets of Toronto in your own time.

Veena (former Toronto resident)

Anonymous said...

pic link doesn`t work


heres 22 pics, suposedly of that critical mass

http://www.flickr.com/photos/martinreis/4734182665/in/set-72157624360577898/

I`m not convinced, genital punches in the street, a 30 minute beating and dessert, I think that is too much.

police brutaliy, of course, no question, some policemen and certain "platoons" are actionmen, they love that riot shit, the same as some of the black guys.

other causes for irrational police behaviour is wrong tactics, too few experience with riots and fear.

agitation 101 is interresting too, gonna read up on that (could be handy someday).

I still don`t buy it. pic or it didn`t happen. and mea culpa in advance to the rider if I get to be proven wrong.

Anonymous said...

http://www.ibiketo.ca/image/geoff-bercarich

Torontoflyer said...

Sorry, the chocolate-covered strawberries nonsense exposed this for the absurd propoganda it is.

Were some of the arrests heavy-handed? Absolutely. But please don't insult our intelligence with this absolute balderdash.

Anonymous said...

That was SO SCARY. I'm so depressed now. :(

Kate S said...

I believe his point about the cops having plenty of food. I work downtown Toronto inside what was the "yellow zone" the fenced in traffic and pedestrian controlled area. I spent the two weeks leading up to the summit surrounded by more and more fully armed police. To cross the street to get a tea I would pass about thirty cops - ten on the the block, five at a "check point" on the corner and about fifteen milling around on the sidewalk across the street. (all with guns, tazers, batons, face shields and helmets, and finally bunches of yellow or white zip ties) I saw on many occasions how the police had rented out ice cream trucks, golf carts and buggies and set up a system to deliver a wide variety of water, soft drinks, snacks, ice cream, lunches,etc. to the cops on my block, as well as to the THOUSANDS of cops in the whole security area. I do not doubt that the police at the Detention Centre were well stocked with everything they needed to be comfortable in the same way the police on the street were.