Women claiming to have been profiled because of their hairy legs are among a group of seven people planning to serve a $1.4-million claim against police on Wednesday arising out of the violence-marred G20 summit two years ago.
The group from Hamilton alleges the police wrongfully arrested them on June 27, 2010 – a day after vandals went on a rampage in downtown Toronto – as they emerged from a Yonge Street restaurant, their lawyer said.
They allege they were kept for hours in handcuffs, then held for more than 24 hours at a makeshift detention centre in the city’s east end before being released without charge. One of the plaintiffs also alleges she was sexually assaulted during a roadside strip search.
None of the claims has been proven or tested in court.
In a statement, lawyer Davin Charney said one of the seven asked the reason for their arrest and an officer told them police “would make one up.”
Mr. Charney said some of the plaintiffs believed they were profiled for arrest because of their appearance, which included having hairy legs.
According to the lawyer, the provincial police watchdog – the Ontario Independent Police Review Director – found an officer wrote in his arrest notes that “all parties appear to be protesters; backpacks; clothing and females all have hairy legs.”
The director’s report also recommended discreditable conduct charges be laid against the officer for swearing at the women, and telling them to “shave your legs, you dykes,” the lawyer said.
“This was a specific incident that was investigated and there was a report produced in relation to just this incident,” Mr. Charney said in an interview on Tuesday.
The lawyer said he would provide further details at a news conference at police headquarters on Wednesday when the suit would be served.
A police spokesman was not immediately able to say whether any action had been taken against the officer.
The statement of claim alleges senior officers were frustrated that front-line officers were not able to stop the vandalism.
The officers, including Chief Bill Blair, held a meeting, then gave orders or “authorized more assertive and aggressive police tactics,” according to the claim.
“Senior TPS commanders used inflammatory and excessive language when giving orders to subordinate officers, encouraging them to ‘take back the streets’ and referring to vandals as ‘terrorists.’”
The lawsuit, which was filed at the end of June, could be the last one of its kind, given the two-year limitation period.
Several suits have previously been filed; some have already been settled.
Dozens of officers are facing disciplinary charges resulting from the summit weekend, including allegations of excessive use of force and illegal arrest.
More than 1,100 people were detained — most released without charge — in one of the largest mass arrests in Canadian history. In his systemic report, the review director was fiercely critical of police for riding roughshod over people’s rights.
However, more than 40 people have been successfully prosecuted for the rampage, which included vandals using black bloc tactics to smash windows and attack police vehicles.