Citizens will pay a financial price for Toronto's amateur policing during G20 summit
The police dragnet has been condemned by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
The G8-G20 Integrated Security Unit Web site includes the following sentence: "The ISU is a joint forces team comprised of security experts collaborating together to ensure the safety of the Heads of State, the community and minimize to the fullest extent possible, the potential impact of police security operations (emphasis added)."
It's becoming pretty clear that after some anarchists went on a rampage on Saturday (June 26), the ISU sought vengeance several hours later by roughing up peaceful protesters and rounding them up.
The ISU includes the RCMP, the Toronto Police Service, the Canadian Forces, Peel Regional Police, and other security and law-enforcement partners.
Prior to the summit, the ISU stated that they "are now ready to provide a safe and peaceful environment for the G20 Summit on June 26 and 27, 2010, in Toronto".
It clearly wasn't safe and peaceful for law-abiding protesters who were exercising their constitutional rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression in a designated protest zone at Queen's Park.
The actions of these police agencies in Toronto stand in sharp contrast to the behaviour of most of the Vancouver police during an anti-Olympic riot on February 13.
For the most part, Vancouver police kept their cool, which reflects the disciplined leadership of the senior brass, including Chief Jim Chu.
Of course, there were some complaints about the VPD's conduct. There always are. But during the Olympics, it was far more professional than the amateur antics displayed by Toronto's cops over the weekend.
The Vancouver police learned some lessons about crowd control after the Stanley Cup riot along Robson Street in 1994 and after the so-called Riot at the Hyatt on December 9, 1998. This coincided with a visit to Vancouver by then-Chinese president Jiang Zemin.
In recent years, Vancouver city cops have occasionally used uniformed officers to videotape protesters, which modifies their behaviour.The VPD has also stopped encircling crowds of demonstrators, which can catch up bystanders on their way home. They learned that lesson in 1994.
Since the Riot at the Hyatt, Vancouver police have avoided marching on protesters with batons and riot gear. Instead, they've preferred holding their positions, which we saw during the Olympics.
As a result, city taxpayers have not had to pay nearly as much in legal costs defending officers in the recent past for their actions during political protests.
What we saw in Toronto was a failure of police leadership. And rest assured, it's going to cost the citizens quite a bit of money by the time all the lawsuits and official complaints against the police are addressed.
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.