Monday, June 28, 2010

Toronto Cops Arrest Over 600 As Protests Continue Against G20 Summit

G20 crowds, police engage in standoffs

By CBC News

Police and anti-G20 protesters engaged in tense and sometimes violent confrontations in several parts of downtown Toronto for a second day on Sunday, leaving at least 604 people under arrest.

About 500 people were surrounded by hundreds of riot police early Sunday evening at the intersection of Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue, where several standoffs had occurred Saturday on the first day of the two-day G20 summit.

Police said they decided to box in a large group of protesters who were making their way on Queen, heading for Peter Street, because there were militant Black Bloc members donning masks while weapons were found along the way.

But only a small number in that boxed-in crowd were arrested for a breach of the peace and taken to the makeshift detention centre in the city's east end, said Toronto Staff Sgt. Jeff McGuire.

Most were detained at the intersection in a heavy downpour for several hours until Toronto police Chief Bill Blair ordered them released without any charges at about 9:40 p.m. Several people told local media they were innocent bystanders who had been waiting for buses, walking their dogs and minding their own business.

"It was unfortunate they found themselves in the situation," McGuire said. "But the officers had a right to detain them."

East-end showdown

Earlier Sunday, the G20 detention centre in a former film studio on Eastern Avenue in the city's east end was a flashpoint between police and demonstrators on two occasions.

At mid-afternoon, police in riot gear began partly surrounding a group of bicyclists who had staged a protest through downtown demanding more rights for cyclists. For a while outside the centre, the cyclists called for the release of detainees, saying, "Let them go, let them go."

Tensions eased around 6 p.m. ET after police asked the protesters to open the street to allow the release of some of the prisoners. The CBC's Amber Hildebrandt reported that the crowd of cyclists and protesters on the north side of the street cheered each time a person was released.

Previously at the same location, police fired at least half a dozen rubber bullets and arrested several people. The confrontation began when an estimated 150 demonstrators started staging a peaceful gathering while police in riot gear looked on.

At one point, plainclothes police arrived, entered the crowd and began to arrest several people.

"They knew who they were looking for," the CBC's Bill Gillespie reported. "These are trained police snatch squads using intelligence on finding suspected troublemakers."

At the same time, police formed a line in front of the crowd, telling the protesters to "move back." They then opened fire with rubber bullets, Gillespie said.

The crowd began to move away from the detention centre area, returning north to Queen Street East, he said.

The Integrated Security Unit, which is handling overall policing issues for the summit, told CBC News there was no immediate information on whether rubber bullets had been fired, said spokeswoman Catherine Martin.

According to the ISU, the number arrested in G20-related incidents had risen to 604, with 253 arrests reported Sunday.

Along with the standoff in the east end, another emerged in the west-end Parkdale neighbourhood.

About 80 people were detained and some were seen being strip-searched in front of Parkdale Community Legal Services on Queen Street West. About 40 of them had been preparing to board a bus bound for Quebec when the police surrounded them, freelance journalist Rebecca Granofvsky-Larsen told CBC News.

On Sunday morning, dozens of people were arrested at the University of Toronto.

Seventy people were rounded up after police said they found makeshift weapons, including bricks, and black clothing hidden in bushes. It's believed the bricks were to be used by vandals who had caused widespread damage Saturday.

'I was there to peacefully protest'

Several handcuffed people were seen being taken into waiting police buses or, in at least one instance, a court services vehicle.

One man dressed in black told CBC News: "I was there to peacefully protest."

Const. Rob McDonald told reporters it was his understanding that people from across Canada had been arrested: "They were found in possession of bricks and other items that could compromise the safety of the citizens of Toronto."

Four other people were arrested in the early morning after they were caught coming out of a sewer in the financial district on Queen Street West between Yonge and Bay streets.

Toronto police spokesman Sgt. Tim Burrows told CBC News that the four were arrested at 2:25 a.m. ET "while leaving a maintenance hole cover, after being in the underground infrastructure of the tunnels."

Burrows said no explosives were found and "the security plan is well intact."

All day, a heavy police presence continued in the downtown area near the convention centre, a day after dozens of businesses, as well as police cars and other vehicles, were damaged.

Amnesty International Canada is calling for an independent review of the G8/G20 security measures.

Alex Neve told CBC News there were some "very troubling human rights dimensions" over how security was used in the past several days.

The human rights group is concerned by the "heavy, heavy police presence" in the city and by the talk about "new weapons and unclear laws" that "really led to quite a considerable chill."

"There were many people who either participated in the protests on Saturday with the sense of nervousness and fearfulness, but also many who stayed away," he said.

Back to Police tactics: Too tough or too soft?

Police tactics: Too tough or too soft?

June 27, 2010

Robyn Doolittle and Michelle Shephard

On Saturday, as images of torched police cruisers and masked vandals left a public embarrassed by the world’s view of Toronto, much of the criticism was directed at violent protesters.

But by Sunday, with more than 550 people arrested, tear gas used on Toronto streets for the first time, and demonstrators stung by rubber bullets, the focus had turned to the police.

Police Chief Bill Blair vowed action on Saturday night, saying there was “no sanctuary from responsibility and accountability for their actions.”

But did police go too far?

As one out-of-town cop quipped, “We were told to be nice Saturday and look where that got us.”

In what is now being called the Battle of Toronto, Saturday marked one of the most violent days in the city’s history. A small group of masked anarchists wielding baseball bats, hammers and wood planks smashed dozens of shop windows, looted stores and set fire to police cruisers after breaking away from thousands of peaceful protesters.

“We have never seen that level of wanton criminality and destruction on our streets,” Blair said.

The mayhem was not unusual for an international summit, but it left Torontonians shaken nonetheless.

Blair was asked why the more than 15,000 officers deployed to the city didn’t try harder to stop the vandals. Or why, after millions had been spent beefing up security, did police not have a better handle on how to stop the actions of an anarchist group using Black Bloc vandalism tactics.

At the Saturday night news conference, Blair acknowledged police lost control of parts of the downtown and that the anarchists were attempting to distract law enforcement from the security fence.

A spokesperson for the Integrated Security Unit denied claims that the police strategy had taken an aggressive turn.

“Police officers act according to the situation,” said Jenn Gearey. “We think from what we’ve seen the police out there are showing real professionalism.”

Perhaps stung by the criticism, by Saturday evening it was clear police were taking a more aggressive approach during a gathering at Queen’s Park.

Anarchists arrived at around 5 p.m., and quickly ditched their black clothing before disappearing among the hundreds of peaceful protesters.

In one of the day’s most dramatic clashes, a mounted police unit charged into a crowd of protesters who had been corralled onto the southern lawns.

Observers say officers shouted a warning to move only seconds before 19 horses broke into a gallop up the eastern lawn. The crowd stampeded backwards, but several at the front couldn’t get out of the way in time. At least two curled into a ball under the horses’ hooves. Officers ran to their side to assess any injuries, before carrying them behind the security line.

Later, with the crowd shaken and contained, officers in groups of about six broke rank, darted into the crowd and pounced on someone — seemingly at random.

This is called an “arrest team,” explained David Kozicki, a California crowd control expert and former police officer.

“They’re not random. These are people that officers, maybe undercover personnel, have spotted causing trouble. You kind of wait for when they aren’t expecting it,” said Kozicki, a former deputy chief with the Oakland, Calif., police force.

“Targeting individual offenders tends to be a better tactic than using what’s called indiscriminate dispersal tactics — rubber dowels, pepper spray, tear gas,” he said. “Targeting whole groups, that tends to get police departments in trouble.”

At least three journalists were detained in this way, but Kozicki said this could have just been a case of mistaken identity.

On Sunday, the scene played itself out again when a group of about 150 demonstrators stood outside a temporary jail on Eastern and Pape Aves.

Although the group was peaceful and chanting, mayhem erupted at about noon, seemingly without warning. A black van pulled up and four plainclothes officers emerged, darted into the crowd and quickly snatched a man and a woman.

The crowd began to panic and uniformed officers surged forward, hitting people with batons and making arrests.

They fired two or three “muzzle blasts” which sent out small clouds of tear gas. Even those demonstrators or journalists who tried to get out of the way couldn’t do so quickly enough and were hit with gas.

Last week, the McGuinty government and Toronto police force came under fire for passing legislation that gave police sweeping powers to charge people within five metres of the security fence. Demonstrators could be arrested simply for refusing to show identification.

By Sunday, police were searching people throughout the downtown core.

About 16 officers were standing outside Toronto’s bus terminal asking young travellers for identification.

About a half dozen officers briefly detained two young men in handcuffs at the corner of Bay and Edward Sts. Their crime? Wearing black shorts and T-shirts.

The young men took the intrusion in stride, shaking hands with police and getting them to pose for a picture.

Smaller demonstrations took place around the city Sunday and police used many of the same tactics seen the day before.

Undercover officers marched along protesters. Riot police were shuttled around the downtown core in buses. Marching two-by-two, rapping their shields with batons, they blocked off streets and shepherded demonstrators in various directions.

“It’s a psychology thing. You want to look organized. You want to look like you know what you’re dong. You want to make a show of force so you don’t have to, in the end, use actual force,” said Kozicki.

It was a strategy used Saturday afternoon, when hundreds of demonstrators and curious onlookers began congregating around Bay and Adelaide Sts., to catch a glimpse of one of the torched police cruisers. Riot police marched through the crowd toward Yonge St., drawing the attention east.

In front of the Novotel hotel on The Esplanade, where demonstrators had vowed to stay put for the night, police moved in from the east and west late Saturday, trapping protesters.

Once police had squeezed in to the point where they were right up against the protesters, they began darting in and snatching individuals as others began to shout out a lawyer’s phone number, telling people to pass it on.

A number of reporters were caught in the group.

“Everyone had a chance to leave,” one officer said. “If they’re in there still, it means they will be arrested. Everyone in there is part of the problem.”

The G20 weekend ended Sunday night as it began Saturday morning, in a torrential rainstorm. At the corner of Queen St. W. and Spadina Ave. Sunday evening, a group of protesters, that reportedly included innocent bystanders, peaceful demonstrators and journalists, was caught behind a human wall of police officers from various forces including the RCMP. Without a chance to escape, many in the group were arrested and left standing in the rain for more than three hours.

Tear gas fired in downtown rampage

June 27, 2010
Kenneth Kidd

Police fire rubber bullets at protesters

A breakaway group of violent protesters blazed a trail of destruction through downtown Toronto Saturday, leaving windows smashed, stores looted and left police cruisers in flames.

In what seemed a carefully choreographed breakout, about 70 black-clad protesters ran amok through mostly deserted streets, largely eluding the $1-billion security operation centred on the Metro Convention Centre.

The rampage was so sudden, and its geography so apparently unexpected, that some storeowners could only weep in front of their breached and unprotected premises, while bystanders either cowered or snapped photos of the melee.

Clouds of smoke billowed, GO service was completed halted, Union Station closed for the night and TTC service downtown routinely stopped in the wake of protesters moving through the core.

Toronto Mayor David Miller condemned the rampage. “They’re criminals who came to Toronto deliberately to break the law,” he told a news conference. “They are not welcome in this city.”

Tear gas was used for the first time in Toronto's history, at Queen and Peter Sts., Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair said.

He admitted Saturday night that police temporarily lost control of the downtown core.

"We have never seen that level of wanton criminality and destruction on our streets," he said, adding a number of officers were injured after being hit by projectiles including bricks.

Blair said as of Saturday night roughly 75 people were in police custody, including several leaders of the militant groups.

Within hours, though, the tally had risen to 130.

The violence exploded in the midst of what had been relative calm, and now has the city bracing for a threatened repeat Sunday.

By mid-afternoon, a relatively peaceful march of about 4,000 people had made its way south on University Ave. from Queen’s Park, their banners and chants drawing attention to everything from climate change to the plight of aboriginals. After travelling west on Queen St., the main group of protesters then starting heading back north on Spadina Ave..

This was the route organizers had announced. To the south, the path was blocked by dozens of police officers aligned in three rows: Those on bicycles at the front, backed up by police in riot gear, with police on horseback in behind them.

Protesters lined themselves against the wall of police, but it soon became clear that no one was going to get through. That’s when dozens of anarchists, all wearing black, began drifting away from the front line.

As they did so, Quebecois communists lit a flare and led the crowd in chants.

Then, around 4 p.m. came the signals. Using what is known as the Black Bloc tactic, members of the group shouted calls, and sprinted back east along Queen, armed with hammers, pool balls and whatever hard objects they could find along the way.

Other protesters followed in their wake, all of it seeming to catch police by surprise.

Several people attacked a cruiser with an officer still in it, smashing the front window with flag poles and rocks. A small group of police, many in standard uniform, came out, swearing and waving their batons.

They formed a protective wall around two cruisers but began to back up, abandoning them after rescuing their colleague and apparently removing any weapons.

The protesters moved in, mounting one of the cars.

Some played with the police radio and sounded the distinctive police horn. Two protesters got into a debate over how much trashing was enough, but the violence continued, with one of the two abandoned cruisers eventually being set on fire.

The violence was beginning in earnest.

One protester, who stashed a hammer inside his jacket, gingerly skipped up to storefronts, smashed the window, then casually skipped back to the crowd where he melded into a sea of black.

Others grabbed newspaper boxes that hadn't been removed, tossing them onto the road to block any police cruisers that might arrive.

Most shop owners along Queen had stayed open, thinking all was safe, but that notion was quickly put aside as protesters ran into a parking lot across from the Black Bull Tavern and smashed a CTV jeep with rocks they picked on Soho St.

When it appeared police and protesters were about to clash, some frightened protesters retreated into the Scarpino shoe store at Queen and John Streets.

“People were scared,” said Ashley Lacoursiere, who works in the store. “We all started running into the store.”

Staff at Steve’s Music store flashed peace signs at the protesters, but then retreated to a second floor window when things turned ugly.

Inside the TD foyer at Queen and Bay Sts., a woman and a security guard huddled behind an ATM as protesters hurled objects at the window — a sliver of cement, a blue billiard ball, a wooden stick.

After each was thrown, another protester swooped in and snatched it back, replenishing the arsenal.

As the protesters moved on, a man opened the bank’s door and led the cowering pair away from the protesters.

“I’m okay,” said the woman as she cried and shook.

The mob then moved south on Bay to King St., lighting another cruiser on fire. The air downtown was filling with smoke as protesters sprayed graffiti on buildings, writing such slogans as “No Corporate Greed.”

When they come upon some parked police cruisers and vans, they began smashing them. One of the group wrote "murderer" in orange across the hood of a white cruiser.

After heading further south, and setting fire to a police cruiser, the protesters started shouting “tear gas” as police moved closer.

Donning masks and pulling bandanas over their faces, the protesters then retreated toward Yonge St., where the spree continued north.

"This isn't violence,” said one man as protesters clad in black clothes streamed across Yonge St., smashing windows at banks, sports' stores and fast-food restaurants. “This is vandalism against violent corporations. We did not hurt anybody. They (the corporations) are the ones hurting people,"

"This is all part of the sexist, male-dominated war machine we live in," explained another male protester.

As onlookers and reporters tried to snap photographs of the vandals, their peers would swoop in and cover the camera lenses with their palm. As the march went on, they became more sophisticated and began surrounding their partners with umbrellas and flags.

At College. St., the group headed west and the vandalism continued. But when one group of masked protesters began to vandalize an empty BMW some of their colleagues came out of the crowd and yelled, "Stop it. They're not our enemy."

The man causing the damages retorted, "Yuppies are our enemy."

At police headquarters, about 50 officers in full riot gear stood guard, but they didn’t move against the protesters even after they smashed the windows of the police museum.

By the time protesters got back to Queen's Park they were met by a squadron of police. About 200 piled out of buses and about 20 came on horseback.

They cordoned off the area, dressed in full riot gear including gas masks. Five shots were heard, setting off a cloud of smoke, but Blair denied they were rubber bullets.

There was an eerie quiet as protesters began to plan their next move. Realizing they were cornered, a large group of anarchists huddled together. You could see that they were changing clothes and trying to shield themselves from police identification. Then they simply dissipated.

"No justice, no peace, f--ck the police," many still chanted. "This is what democracy looks like, that is what a police state looks like."

A man identifying himself as "Roy", who appeared to be a Black Bloc sympathiser, said that his group “keeps the other protesters safe because the Black Bloc are the bad protesters."

But as police began to move in, telling people at Queen’s Park to “go home,” protesters slowly began retreating into the night, leaving everyone to wonder what Sunday will bring.

Police Chief Blair said Saturday night that police will be monitoring a block party held by some protesters at Church and Wellesley Streets, starting late and continuing into the wee hours.

But as the evening wore on, it was clear the protesters were being joined by others more interested in a drunken lark.

Some managed to reach the three-metre high security fence around the main convention area, only to abandon it minutes later and be pushed north toward First Canadian Place by police.

Blair said Toronto police remain dedicated to allowing peaceful protest but several groups of anarchists attach themselves to legitimate protests "for the sole purpose of engaging in acts of violence and destruction."

The chief said he is "profoundly disappointed" in the violence but said those behind it will be held accountable.

"We know many of the members of these groups. Over the past several days we have apprehended several of their leaders. Tonight we began removing members of the mob from our streets.

These arrests will continue as necessary. Those responsible for acts of vandalism will be held accountable. We know who many of them are and we have photographs of many others . . . "

With files from David Rider, Madeleine White, Brendan Kennedy, Raveena Aulakh, Jennifer Yang, Liam Casey, Jesse McLean, Jayme Poisson, Jim Rankin, Robyn Doolittle, Emily Mathieu, Amy Dempsey and Wendy Gillis

Massive rally calls on G20 to put people ahead of banks

By Michel Comte (AFP)

TORONTO — Ten thousand people marched against the G20 summit Saturday to protest for jobs and social causes, in a largely peacefully rally that saw nevertheless saw outbreaks of violence on its fringes.

While the main body of the march was a well-marshaled event, led by older activists and organized labor, small groups of young hardliners scuffled with riot officers and set fire to at least two patrol cars.

In addition to the two which were set ablaze, at least three more cars were damaged in downtown Toronto's financial district, and the air was thick with the smell of vinegar-soaked rags used to ward off police tear gas.

Firefighters moved to douse the flames, but there was chaos nearby as businesses dropped their shutters and bystanders were caught up in the action.

Lara Garrido Herrero, 33, a weekend visitor to the city who was shopping in the downtown Eaton Center mall, told AFP by telephone: "Around 200 people are stuck in a lock-down in the shop and the staff are handing out water."

Toronto police used the microblogging site Twitter to deny a rumor that rioters had breached the security barrier erected around the conference center where the leaders of the world's richest countries were gathering.

"Dispelling more rumors: The fence has not been breached. False reports," the message read.

Canada spent more than a billion dollars to secure this week's back-to-back G8 and G20 summits, hoping to avoid the serious street battles that have marred most recent gatherings of these global forums.

Thousands of police reinforcements backed by riot officers on horseback and spotter helicopters have been drafted into the city center, much of which is sealed off behind concrete and steel barriers.

The marchers stood for an hour on the lawn of a government building in downtown Toronto, braving cold and rain to cheer on labor leaders and others who urged the G20 to put people ahead of financial institutions.

"It wasn't the workers of the world that caused the financial crisis," Sid Ryan of the Ontario Federation of Labour said in a speech. "We don't want to see a transfer of wealth from the public sector to the private sector."

"The people, united, will never be defeated," steelworkers and their unionized brethren shouted back, placards poking through rips in a tapestry of umbrellas that read: "Long live socialism" and "Scrap the summits."

Already at daybreak, about 50 protesters were keeping vigil in a wooded tented encampment in downtown Toronto, and maybe another 50 had already moved off towards Queens Park for the start of the main rally.

One of the campers covered himself in baby oil, offered to wrestle bystanders and climbed a tree -- to the amusement of the world's media but the annoyance of protesters, who thought he distracted from their causes.

"I hate him, but I have to admit he probably has great skin," said one female protester.

They would soon be joined by 30 busloads of unionized workers from across Ontario province, as well as supporters of Oxfam, Greenpeace, the Canadian Federation of Students and the Council of Canadians.

By midday, the crowd had ballooned to 10,000, said organizers, citing authorities' official estimates.

Their issues include the legitimacy of the G20 itself, and jobs. "We don't want G20 countries to cut stimulus spending until jobs recover," Jeff Atkinson, spokesman for the Canadian Labour Congress, told AFP.

Greenpeace International Director Kumi Naidoo argued that if G20 countries could spend billions of dollars to rescue banks in trouble, why not find money to help unemployed workers, for the environment and for social causes.

Student activist Liana Salvador lamented that she was 50,000 dollars in debt for school. "I'm an ordinary student whose parents taught me that knowledge is power, but whose government says education is just expensive."

"Do only the rich deserve to learn?" she demanded.

"One billion for education, not fortification," she shouted, lamenting the billion-dollar cost of securing the G8 and G20 summits in the Toronto area.

"Let's come together and unite the labor movement, the environmental movement, the women's movement... and we can move mountains," Ryan said.

Police on bicycles and on foot kept watch, but they were less visible than on Friday for an earlier march.

Demonstrators released balloons in the air, and there was music and dancing. But while mostly peaceful, the protest had a serious air.

Sergeant Tim Burrows, spokesman for the Integrated Security Unit responsible for securing the summit, said 32 people had been arrested since June 18 for "G20 related incidents."

They faced 51 charges, including assaults on policemen at the Friday rally, wearing disguises near G20 barricades, weapons and immigration violations, and involvement in three separate bomb plots, said Burrows.

G20 rioters disrupt Toronto protest

Police arrest 560 after masked anarchists smash property; journalists report use of excessive force to maintain £640m security cordon

Robert Booth,
Sunday 27 June 2010 22.56 BST

More than 560 people were arrested across Toronto over the weekend after violence erupted between riot police and masked protesters as leaders of the G20 countries gathered behind the toughest security cordon in the history of the summit.

Many of those arrested had been staging peaceful protests, but trouble broke out on Saturday afternoon when a group of anarchists broke away from the main, non-violent protest by trade unions and other groups around the summit conference centre and began smashing the windows of banks and chain stores and torching police patrol cars in the shopping and financial districts. They covered their faces, and used litter bins, poles and bricks to smash the facades of an Urban Outfitters, a branch of Scotia Bank and an Adidas store. Footage from the Canadian broadcaster CTV also showed them looting, and threatening photographers.

Police armed with batons, tear gas, pepper spray and plastic bullets and mounted divisions were deployed to try to control the violence, according to news reports. A police spokeswoman confirmed that officers had fired muzzle blasts — or "individual applications of tear gas" — that are used typically against people at close range. It is thought to be the first time police in Toronto have used tear gas against the public.

Four people who climbed through the sewer system and emerged near the lock-down area where world leaders were attending the summit were arrested and police said they were urgently sealing sewer access near the zone.

Another 70 were detained after police raided the University of Toronto's city centre campus. Police said they seized weapons, including rocks and sticks. Clashes also broke out when several hundred protesters marched on a temporary detention centre for demonstrators arrested in the previous day's riots.

Jesse Rosenfeld, a freelance journalist who has written for the Guardian's Comment is Free website, was arrested and hit by police officers, according to a Canadian TV journalist who witnessed the arrest.

The rioting intensified into the night, with shop fronts smashed and media vehicles damaged. Police charged the crowds to seize individuals, and fired plastic bullets in an effort to clear a park, Reuters news agency reported.

"We have never seen that level of wanton criminality and vandalism and destruction on our streets," Toronto police chief Bill Blair told a news conference. "There are limits to free speech, and these limits really end when it infringes on the rights and the safety of others."

"This isn't violence," one masked protester told the Toronto Star newspaper. "This is vandalism against violent corporations. We did not hurt anybody. [The corporations] are the ones hurting people."

There was considerable anger at some of the police tactics. In scenes broadcast live in Toronto, an officer in riot gear could be seen striking an apparently unarmed protester several times during a standoff between lines of protesters and police. A Montreal journalist, Stefan Christoff, said he was hit many times by a riot policeman with a plastic-coated metal baton after chanting slogans opposed to the G20.

Steve Paikin, who presents TV Ontario's current affairs programme Agenda, said he saw the assault on Rosenfeld. "As I was escorted away from the demonstration, I saw two officers hold a journalist. A third punched him in the stomach. The man collapsed. Then the third officer drove his elbow into the man's back."

Police were also accused of being slow to respond when the violence began. Shops had not been boarded up in preparation for violence.

Security was meant to be tight. Canada has estimated that the cost of security for the G20 and earlier G8 summit, in Huntsville, Ontario, would be a record C$1bn (£640m) for the two centres. Security costs for the 2008 G8 summit in Japan were US$381m (£211m), and $30m for the 2009 London G20 summit. The costs in Canada included 19,000 police officers and 1,100 private security guards, working behind a 3 metre (9ft) metal fence around the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

The tight security has caused resentment. L Ian MacDonald, a columnist for the Toronto Star, said the city "looked like West Berlin, 1961, not Toronto, 2010".

Toronto's baseball team, the Blue Jays, were sent to play away from home and the CN tower was closed because of its proximity to the convention centre.

One particular target for criticism was the introduction of a regulation allowing police to stop and search anyone coming within five metres of the security fence and make arrests if no identification is provided. Lawyers have said that may violate Canada's charter of rights and freedoms, which guarantees freedom of assembly.

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