Friday, June 25, 2010

G20 Police Searches and Recording IDs

The G8 and G20 summit is a gathering of certain world leaders some I would recognize from TV but most I could pass in the street without having a clue who they were. These two events have an estimated cost to Canada of $1.1 billion (with estimates this will probably end up being at least $1.5 billion) and security is the largest chunk of this cost at about $1 billion. At One Billion Dollars the story is not the world leaders, we won't see them anyway, it is the police and the powers that they have been given in some locations and enforce in other locations on their own.

One Billion Dollars - wow, and what have we got? We have more police than protesters, police of every variety such as horse-mounted police, motorcycle police, bicycle police, police in cruiser,  police in unmarked vehicles, marine police and many more police who have to walk. Toronto forces have been beefed up with the RCMP and even other jurisdictions like York Region.

Freedom has been thrown out the window in many parts of downtown away from the security zone. I was riding my bike on Yonge Street approaching Wellington Street when I noticed that the police seemed to be searching people's bags. When I asked the police if they were searching bags the police agreed that they were searching bags. They said they were checking for weapons. When I asked if they had reports of weapons in bags or were only searching bags on the random chance that they were going to find weapons I was asked to produce ID. Not only to produce ID but to answer questions and all the information was written down on a special form. Talk about police intimidation. Ironically they did not search my backpack.

Ontario has passed the Ontario Public Works Protection Act which extends from inside the G20 yellow zone security perimeter to 5m outside the fence (see the G20 zone map). Within this area you have to produce identification and state your purpose.  I was on Yonge Street and was not even close to Bay Street which has the fence  when I asked the question to police. For this question I was required to provide my ID. I am curious if some police force will now show up at my home to further question me. What does it mean to be on this list of people that were required to provide ID?

You may want to avoid downtown Toronto because of the inconvenience, or the possibility that protesters will riot, not because you are afraid of the police and of being on a Toronto Police list. I will return to Toronto tomorrow to see what other excitement the G20 has in store for us. Who knows, maybe I will bump into President Obama at a bakery buying Canada cookies.

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