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Pre-dawn raids in Toronto homes result in four arrests Add to ...

Toronto police are arresting many of the key organizers behind anti-G20 protests, several of them during pre-dawn raids on houses across Toronto that resulted in four people being charged with conspiracy to commit mischief.

Niki Thorne and the nine other people staying in her west-end Toronto house were woken up at 4:45 a.m. Saturday morning to hear police entering the house, Ms. Thorne said. Police demanded identification from everyone inside, checking IDs against photos and documents they had with them.

"They entered through the back without permission, without warning," she said, adding that police refused to let people in the house see a search warrant. "[Residents]were searched without consent, without warning. People were patted down. ... One person was hauled out of bed in his underwear."

Integrated Security Unit spokeswoman Gillian Van Acker said police had warrants.

Amanda Hiscocks, Peter Hopperton, Alex Hundert and Leah Henderson were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit mischief.

Bail hearings for the four were ajourned until 2 p.m. Monday,

Defence lawyer Brydie Bethell tried to fight the adjournment.

"Detention of these individuals beyond today would compromise their liberties," she said.

They will remain in custody until their reappearance.

Ms. Bethell argued that the the group accused were not specifically named in most of the more serious allegations about planned attacks, including assertions that the group would be "smashing" stuff at the G20 rallies.

The allegation that Ms. Henderson was "aware" of planned attacks by an affinity group does not mean she was involved in it, Ms. Bethell said.

The police investigation into anarchist activity in the southern Ontario area had been ongoing since April 2009, said Crown attorney Vincent Paris.

He read from the group's alleged "target list" which included Metro Hall, City Hall, a number of banks and banking institutions such as Goldman Sachs and RBC, McDonalds, the Hudson Bay Company, government agencies and a laundry list of consulates. Yorkville and Queen's Park were also alleged targets.

"The more of them that are targeted (or hit), the stronger the case is for additional charges," Mr. Paris said.

Police allege the group was planning to break off from peaceful protest and launch violent attacks against police.

Police couldn't comment on what the mischief in question was, and whether it had anything to do with activists' vows to take down the fence lining the perimeter of the summit security zone.

The Crown said two undercover police officers recorded a planning meeting by the Southern Ontario Anarchist Resistance on Friday night. The four under arrest are considered by police to be leaders of the group and are some of its "executive directors."

Ms. Hiscocks and Ms. Henderson stand accused of orchestrating the "Get off the fence" protest, a Southern Ontario Anarchist Resistance event meant to take place after the sanctioned labour rally that began in Queen's Park Saturday afternoon.

"It's time to stop sitting on the fence and start tearing that fucker down," says the event listing on SOAR's website "Join us on Saturday afternoon, immediately following the Labour Union rally, for a militant march to the summit!"

Irina Ceric, a lawyer with the Law Society of Ontario's Movement Defence Committee, said one of the committee's lawyers is representing at least some if not all of the four, most of whom have activist backgrounds in their communities.

Alex Hundert is an organizer with Waterloo's Aw@l radio station and the Kitchener-Waterloo Community Centre for Social Justice. He was involved in anti-Olympics protests this year before the Games in Vancouver. Shortly before the city's torch relay, a Dec. 14 article in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record said, "There's even a little Olympic spirit in protester Alex Hundert, who's bothered by the commercialization of the Games but understands the joy of sports."

The paper later printed a correction: "Alex Hundert, who protested Saturday at an event in front of Kitchener City Hall, does not support, in any way, the Olympic Games. Incorrect information appeared in a story Monday."

He's a contributor to multiple alternative-media websites, including Rabble.ca, where in a March 2010 post he defended more extreme protest tactics such as Black Bloc, which involves wearing uniform clothing meant to disguise one's identity - such as ski masks and bandanas - and often using shields or truncheons.

"The Black Bloc is a wrecking ball tactic that makes space for more mainstream or creative tactics," he wrote.

"The anarchists who participate in the Bloc are for the most part solid community organizers and people who are at the forefront of making space for creative alternatives to capitalism and colonialism. A diversity of tactics is meant to be complimentary - different tactics demonstrate different values and objectives, and all must be viewed in sum."

Ms. Hiscocks is a volunteer organizer with the Guelph chapter of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group.

According to a June 24 article by the alternative news website Toronto Media Co-op, Peter Hopperton was handcuffed, questioned and searched while on his way home Tuesday.

At a drizzly noon press conference, Toronto Community Mobilization Network activist Maryam Adrangi pointed to a dented, blackened door and damaged door frame that remained after a pre-dawn raid on the west-end house.

"The door was kicked in. People who were sleeping on the ground were sleeping and harassed and several were detained, asked for identification without reason, without any response from the cops when asked why they were being detained," she said.

Police have also arrested Syed Hussan, one of the most prominent faces of the Toronto Community Mobilization Network, and charged him with counselling to commit an indictable offence. He was arrested near Allan Gardens, where protesters have set up a tent city, shortly before noon on Saturday.

Farrah Miranga, an activist with No One Is Illegal, said she was with Mr. Hussan when he was arrested.

"An unmarked van of police thugs, plainclothes, surrounded us, pulled us out of a cab, took Hussan, arrested him, threw him in handcuffs, threw him again into the unmarked van and sped away," she said, adding that she'd be at Saturday's protest nonetheless and would try to get "as close to that damn fence as possible."

Police searched a car near Allan Gardens on Saturday morning and found an array of items: gas masks, compressors, bulletproof vests, shovels, an axe and a nail gun. Police confiscated the items, but let the man driving the car go.

Identified on Toronto news channel CP24 only as "Evan" and said to be from Saskatoon, he spoke to the media afterward. He said he needed the bulletproof vest for his job, which required him to be out on the streets at night. He wouldn't say what his job was.

"I am concerned about gang activity in my city," he told reporters, adding that he needed the nail gun in case his car broke down up north and he needed to build a shelter.

Follow on Twitter: @jeffreybgray

 

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