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Police arrest protesting cyclists along the streets of downtown Toronto during the G20 Summit on June 27, 2010. (Ryan Remiorz/Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)
Police arrest protesting cyclists along the streets of downtown Toronto during the G20 Summit on June 27, 2010. (Ryan Remiorz/Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Police arrest more than 600 as Toronto G20 protests continue Add to ...

Five courtrooms are open, including two bail courts divided alphabetically. Another court is designated just for French defendants and youth, another for pleas and another one for overflow.

On Saturday, just two courtrooms were open.

"It is a very high volume. This is very unusual, but I think everyone is handling it very well," said Paula Beard, director of criminal law services for the GTA region, Legal Aid Ontario.

Ms. Beard said the volume is similar to what might be seen after a massive arrest by the Toronto police's guns and gangs unit.

Toronto Police announced Sunday it was setting up a team to investigate crimes at the G20 protests and track down the perpetrators, and asked for tips from the public.

About 70 people were arrested at a University of Toronto building near Russell Street and Spadina Avenue for wielding "street-type weaponry," police said. Officers seized black clothing, bricks, bats, sharpened sticks and bottles containing fluid -- "items you don't need for a weekend in Toronto," Constable Rob McDonald said.

Police officers, with batons out, were searching bushes and trash cans, amid what Constable McDonald said it was the biggest series of arrests related to G20. At least two police buses were on the scene, along with more than 10 other police vehicles, mostly unmarked minivans. The raid was at the Bancroft Building, the Earth Science Centre and the Graduate Students Centre.

Constable McDonald said no guns or knives were found. He could not say what protest groups those arrested were believed to be a part of, or what charges they would face. He would not say whether the suspects were involved in Saturday's violence.

"It's possible they were involved. It's possible they were copycats. The investigation will filter that out for us," he said.

The arrests came a day after a mob of protesters used what is referred to as the Black Bloc protest tactic, which entails showing up at large demonstrations dressed entirely in black and attacking symbols of capitalism. The hope is that police will react, while the protesters shed their black clothes and melt into the crowd.

An G20 protester smashes a window at a downtown Toronto Starbucks.

Many of those arrested looked older than typical students, seated on the ground outside a U of T residence, with clear plastic bags of evidence or belongings around them. One man had a bushy grey beard. Others appeared to be university-aged women. Another arrested man, with a shaved head and green flipflops, sat on the sidewalk in handcuffs as police milled about. The suspects were being loaded on a bus, to be taken to the detention centre at Eastern Avenue.

"We were just sleeping. We have a right to protest," said one bearded man to reporters as officers escorted him onto the waiting prisoner bus.

One bearded young man, being led to the bus in handcuffs, shouted: "I'm innocent! I'm innocent!" Another young man in a t-shirt and jeans appeared distraught and near tears as he was loaded into the bus.

Most appeared to speak French as a first language, and police confirmed some were from Montreal. They said they might have been staying in U of T dorms for the summer.

A source familiar with the campus said the people arrested had been staying in a gym at the U of T Graduate Students' Union.

Anton Neschadim, a GSU Executive-At-Large, confirmed that his organization was billeting people for the summit, but said he wasn't sure if they were among the people arrested.

"People have been put up in that building, and they are allowed to be there," Mr. Neschadim said. He said the students' union had remained open during the G20, even as the rest of the university was closed. While the union didn't take part in the protests, he said it decided to help put people up.

As a bus full of suspects pulled away shortly before noon, escorted by police on motorcycles, some inside banged on the windows as reporters and cameras looked on. A second bus, equipped with a cage-like wall inside, pulled away around 1:30 p.m. Police said each bus contained 45 people.

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