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Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair attends an editorial board meeting at the Globe and Mail to discuss the recent spate of gun crime in the city, July 31, 2012. (Galit Rodan/The Globe and Mail)
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair attends an editorial board meeting at the Globe and Mail to discuss the recent spate of gun crime in the city, July 31, 2012. (Galit Rodan/The Globe and Mail)

Role of police chief at heart of G20 complaint case Add to ...

Almost three years after the tumultuous G20 summit, scrutiny of yet another skirmish gets an airing in court Tuesday. This time the catalyst is a bandana.

At issue in the Divisional Court hearing at Toronto’s Osgoode Hall will be the way a G20–related complaint was handled by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, the watchdog that probes complaints against Ontario police.

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In this instance, it’s alleged the OIPRD fell short by failing to properly examine the circumstances that gave rise to the complaint, in particular the source of the orders that resulted in the complainant being arrested, locked up for more than 24 hours and released without charge.

Graphic designer Jason Wall was walking home on Sunday, June 27, one day after downtown Toronto was rocked by a wave of vandalism that left behind more than $2-million damage in burned police cars, smashed glass and other wreckage.

Much of the mayhem had been unleashed by anti-summit protesters wearing masks. According to a factum filed by his lawyers, Mr. Wall was arrested solely because he was wearing a bandana, and Toronto police had been instructed to arrest anyone they spotted wearing one.

In his case, the bandana was around his neck rather than concealing his face, his complaint states.

Like most of the 1,100-plus people scooped up that day, he was held in a makeshift detention centre before being freed, and in the end the OIPRD concurred he had indeed been wrongly arrested.

But it has never been clear who exactly issued the orders about the bandanas, only that they emanated from within the senior ranks of the Toronto Police Service. And as a result Mr. Wall’s complaint has never been properly addressed, states his factum, which also accuses the OIPRD of foot-dragging over a follow-up complaint.

“It will remain unresolved until the OIPRD investigates the role of the Chief of Police and Upper Command in ordering the arrest of anyone wearing a bandana…. The Chief accepted some blame for the G20 protest disasters. However, he has yet to acknowledge that the instructions to effect illegal arrests originated with him or were made with his approval.”

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