Chief Blair Must Step Down or Be Fired: OFL President Says G20 Police Accountability Must Start at the Top

Don Mills, Ontario, CANADA

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 17, 2012) - Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) President Sid Ryan today responded to a damning report on the police use of excessive force during the 2010 G20 Summit in Toronto by calling for the resignation of Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair.

"How much more proof of gross police misconduct do we need before action is taken to hold the force to account?" demanded OFL President Sid Ryan. "We saw it with our own eyes, it was reported in the media, it was documented by Amnesty International, and now the province's police complaints watchdog has confirmed it. The orders came from the top down to the rank and file to treat peaceful protesters as terrorists and to suspend civil liberties."

The report of the Office of the Independent Police Review Director Gerry McNeilly released yesterday confirmed that police made unlawful arrests, Charter rights infringements and violations of prisoner rights during an unprecedented campaign of excessive force.

The OFL and several other labour and community groups worked closely with the Toronto Police Service for weeks to ensure that the mass rally of 30,000 peaceful protesters as a "family friendly" event. However, McNeilly's investigation found that senior officers deemed legitimate protesters to be "terrorists" and that officers "were led to believe that the crowd would likely become violent … There was little attempt to prepare them to support peaceful protesters." Later in the day, the police swept into the designated "peaceful protest zone" with truncheons swinging, endangering peaceful protesters and their children, and embarked on a mass-arrest that set a new standard in peace-time detentions.

"Over 1,100 people were arrested and detained - nearly all of them on charges with absolutely no merit. Random citizens were arrested in unlawful outdoor prisons and many were brutalized in the process. To date, only two officers have faced criminal charges for these assaults and the 100 officers who removed their nametags to disguise their identities have only received minor sanctions," said Ryan. "Chief Blair has erected a wall of silence to protect his officers but he cannot hide from accountability behind a thin blue line."

"I was personally stopped and questioned by police twice in the same day. I personally know many others who faced much worse, but none of these Charter violations can go unanswered," said Ryan. "Blair perpetuated a fraud upon the public, ordered his officers to suspend civil liberties and turned Toronto into a police state. He has forever damaged the reputation of Toronto police force and tarnished his own badge. Justice will only be served when Blair has been replaced."

The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario.

Contact Information:

Sid Ryan
416-209-0066 (cell)

Joel Duff
Communications Director
416-707-0349 (cell) ENGLISH/FRENCH