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Deaf man arrested in G20 protest gets bail Add to ...

Standing in a plexi-glass prisoner's box on Saturday afternoon, Emomotimi Azorbo stared straight ahead at his sign language interpreter as he learned he would be set free.

The deaf Toronto man was arrested Friday afternoon as thousands of protesters clashed with police in riot gear during a march through downtown.

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He's charged with assaulting an officer and resisting arrest.

Mr. Azorbo was granted $1,000 bail, no deposit on Saturday afternoon. He's not allowed access to any weapons and is required to stay out of the downtown - Bloor Street to the north, Lakeshore Boulevard to the south, Spadina Avenue to the west and Jarvis Street to the east - until June 29.

He will re-appear in court to face the charges Aug. 23 at 9 a.m.

Police allege Mr. Azorbo was part of a group of about 500 people that threatened to damage windows of a Winner's store. When police approached, they say, Mr. Azorbo pushed an officer and two others.

His lawyer Howard Morton argues that's not the case.

"The allegations that were read out in court just didn't happen that way," he said.

"Our defence is he did absolutely nothing wrong. He was there and he was entitled to be there."

Mr. Morton and Mr. Azorbo's friends are also furious he didn't have access to an American Sign Language interpreter while being held in the film studio turned G20 detention centre on Eastern Avenue.

"I think police have to have facilities and accommodations for people with special needs."

For hours on Friday night and into Saturday morning, about three dozen protesters held a sit-in outside the detention centre. They chanted, held a drum session and argued with the row of police officers separating them from the street, asking for Mr. Azorbo to be released or at least granted access to a translator.

Mr. Azorbo's friend and neighbour Saron Gebresellassi says Mr. Azorbo, who can't speak or lip-read, had no idea what police were trying to tell him.

She and Mr. Azorbo had gone to see what the protest was about, she said, adding that there was a miscommunication with police, she said, because her friend couldn't understand the verbal instructions they were giving him. Ms. Gebresellassi said her friend wasn't involved in the protest and had little idea what was going on.

No members of the public were allowed in courtroom 203, which has been designated for those charged with G20 related crimes.

Even Mr. Azorbo's mother Sophie was not allowed in. Outside the courtroom, she expressed relief that her son will be coming home.

"I'm pleased that he is being let go," she said, refusing to make further comments on the case.

Outside the courthouse, the Canadian Hearing Society's Gary Malkowski said the police failure to allow an interpreter who was not an officer to assist communication violates human rights and the charter.

"This is a serious concern," he said through an interpreter. "He has the right to access to communication. He was not aware of the rules of the Toronto Police. He was walking on the sidewalk and was not aware."

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