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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 ...

A tense, hours-long standoff has come to an end in downtown Toronto.

Just before 10 p.m., a group of protesters and bystanders that had been boxed in by of riot police at the intersection of Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue were let go en masse. In the preceeding hours, police were gradually removing -- and subsequently detaining -- members of the crowd.

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Reporters at the scene said several protesters had been arrested and police brought in a bus to transport those under arrest. A mounted police unit was also called in and CTV reported that a sound cannon had been brought to the scene.

Aerial photos showed a small group of approximately 100 protesters surrounded on all sides by riot police.

Crowds were being kept blocks away by officers wearing gas masks and mounted on horse.

On the east side of the blockade, police charged at the assembled crowd while beating their shields with batons, eventually advancing their line all the way to John Street.

Speaking to media, Staff Superintendent Jeff McGuire said the group was detained because police nearby had reason to believe that some among them were donning black masks -- enough to make police fear something similar to the vandalism and smashed windows that occurred downtown Saturday afternoon.

"Some weapons were found along the route," as police were following the crowd, Staff Supt. McGuire said, although he couldn't say what weapons were found. He said the people who had donned masks were charged, although he didn't know how many of them there were or what the charges were.

All others who were detained were freed without charge, he said. "To those people, I cannot apologize to them and I won't."

"I can tell you that it's unfortunate they found themselves in that situation, it's unfortunate the whole city had to go through what we've gone through this week."

"I'm confident our officers have done the best we can."

Police say 604 people have been arrested in connection with G20-related protests so far Sunday, after a major police crackdown in parts of downtown Toronto and further arrests at a protest outside a temporary detention centre and at a largely peaceful bike protest.

Globe writer Lisan Jutras was among those boxed in by police. She told the Globe at 8 p.m. that police were slowly letting people out, as reinforcements arrive to relieve those who have been stationed there. She also saw some of those who left being placed in handcuffs.

Spokeswoman Catherine Martin of Integrated Security Unit would not offer any details on why police appeared to allow violent protesters to smash windows and burn police cruisers on Saturday, yet quickly cracked down on apparently peaceful protests held on Sunday. She said it "depended on what circumstances were being faced."

She would also not respond to questions about why scores of police officers penned in both bystanders and protesters at Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue for more than three hours Sunday evening, reportedly leaving up to 200 people soaking in the rain without any indication when, or whether, they would be allowed to leave. An unknown number were taken away by police in handcuffs.

See the liveblog on your mobile device here. To view the blog, click on the play button below



<iframe src="http://www.coveritlive.com/index2.php/option=com_altcaster/task=viewaltcast/altcast_code=9b4fb1d11e/height=650/width=450" scrolling="no" height="650px" width="450px" frameBorder ="0" allowTransparency="true" ><a href="http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php/option=com_mobile/task=viewaltcast/altcast_code=9b4fb1d11e" >globeandmail.com covers G8 and G20: Sunday, June 27</a></iframe>


Earlier, in the city's Parkdale neighbourhood where the activist group Toronto Community Mobilization Group had set up an organizational headquarters for protesters, police surrounded the building. They detained and searched several people and witnesses said some were taken away in court services vehicles.

The crowd in the predominantly low-class neighbourhood chanted "police out of Parkdale" and sang the Canadian national anthem.

Police have confirmed that 224 people had been arrested since 6 a.m. on Sunday alone.

The number of arrests has sent G20-designated courtrooms at 2201 Finch Ave. W. into overdrive. On Sunday afternoon, the building teemed with lawyers and frantic family and friends hoping to bail out people picked up by police.

Lawyer Ryan Clements showed up after a tense evening waiting six hours to meet his clients in the detention centre Saturday. Out of a list of more than 10 he is supposed to represent, he managed to meet with three.

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.

About 10 police officers, some in blue plastic gloves, appeared to be going through potential evidence on the patio of the University of Toronto's Graduate Students Union pub.

Two kilometres to the southeast, near Yonge Street and Edward Street, a group of about 20 officers had about 11 people standing against the wall with their hands up outside The World's Biggest Bookstore. The officers had the people's belongings, mostly backpacks, splayed across the sidewalk as they went through them. The belongings included water bottles, clothing items, and blankets.

Sergeant John Holmes confirmed later that morning that 11 individuals had been arrested at the scene and would be taken to the Eastern Avenue detention centre. He would not say what specific crimes the individuals were suspected of, but said that they were G20-related.

The people, mostly wearing jeans and t-shirts, appeared to range in age from their late teens to early twenties.

A few minutes later, about a dozen vans carrying more officers drove up, including a court services van. "They're all going in. All of them," one officer was overheard saying.

Officers began preparing large plastic bags and loading the people's belongings into the bags. Police cordoned off both ends of Edward St., between Yonge Street and Bay Street to prevent vehicle or pedestrian access to the area.

Lucas Polak, 26, said he was across the street when the takedown occurred.

"There were a group of kids walking eastbound and three vans were following them," he said. "They weren't doing anything and they just came and took them down."

He said he saw the officers jump out the vans and grab the people by their shoulders and move them against the wall. "It's kind of scary," Mr. Polak said.

Officers at the scene declined to comment on why the people were being detained, but one said, "We don't know what kind of substances are on them."

Included in some of the peoples' belongings were water bottles, a two-litre juice container, and various beverage cartons.

The Integrated Security Unit said police had made the arrests at U of T after receiving some information that the people there had been involved in some criminal activity.

The security unit earlier said police would be rounding up protesters for offences committed at earlier protests.

"A number of arrests had taken place, so police were saying they would look at the best time to arrest people," said Jillian van Acker, spokesperson for the security unit.

Nathalie Des Rosiers of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association said several group members who had been monitoring police activity at the protests over the previous days had been arrested and the association had been unable to contact them.

"I've been e-mailing the police to try and get some action and we've been getting the hang-up," she said.

Ms. Des Rosiers said the group's monitors had recorded several alleged violations of civil liberties by police, including officers surrounding and searching people on the street and making arbitrary arrests.

"We're very concerned that they're casting their net very wide and a lot of innocent people are being caught in it," she said, citing arrests made at Queen's Park and a peaceful protest outside the Novatel Hotel Saturday night.



<iframe width="460" height="350" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=103335406819895550235.000489a0fd09ad8ca6903&ll=43.65446,-79.373817&spn=0.04347,0.102997&z=13&output=embed"></iframe><br /><small>View <a href="http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=103335406819895550235.000489a0fd09ad8ca6903&ll=43.65446,-79.373817&spn=0.04347,0.102997&z=13&source=embed" style="color:#0000FF;text-align:left">G8/G20 in Toronto: Sunday, June 27</a> in a larger map</small>




After Saturday's sometimes-violent protests, several downtown Starbucks were closed Sunday morning, some with their windows covered in boards.

Sawdust filled the cracks in the sidewalk outside a CIBC branch at College Street and Bay Street, where the smashed windows were covered with hastily laid plywood. Even the street-access ABM was boarded up.

A woman walks by a boarded-up CIBC branch at College St. and Yonge St. on Sunday morning after G20 protesters smashed the windows on Saturday.

The Toronto Transit Commission restored full subway service, with all buses and streetcars running on their regular Sunday schedules, after having shut down downtown subway and streetcar routes on Saturday evening. GO Transit resumed all train and bus service to and from Union Station.

Early Sunday, Stephen Harper's director of communications, Dimitri Soudas, called the violent protesters "a bunch of thugs who pretend to have a difference of opinions and instead choose violence in order to express those so-called differences of opinions."

Mr. Soudas said the police were "ensuring that these thugs don't rampage across the city and create even more damages.''



G20 Day of Protest

A protestor jumps on an abandonned police car after clashes during a G20 protest in Toronto.
G20 Day of Protest Globe photographers cover the streets of Toronto



Prime Minister Harper is playing host to the G20 summit, which includes the G8 countries (Canada, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia) as well as emerging economic powers such as China and other nations representing a broader spectrum. The G8 summit, which was held north of Toronto in Huntsville, Ont., wrapped up on Saturday.

There were reports early Sunday morning of two men emerging from the sewer system on Richmond Avenue near Bay Street in downtown Toronto. Ms. van Acker confirmed police arrested four people for coming out of the sewers around 2:30 a.m. She said it wasn't clear what they were doing or if they were connected to the protests.

The city sealed off several maintenance covers close to the security perimeter leading up to the summit, but Sergeant Tim Burrows said this one was among those deemed far enough away as not to pose a security risk.

Police chief William Blair announced Sunday that the force had created a special team to investigate all crimes committed in Toronto related to the G20.

"There is a small group of criminals, whose only motivations are violence and destruction, who have appalled those who came to express their views in a peaceful manner. We will investigate every crime committed at the Summit, and track down and charge all those responsible," Mr. Blair wrote in a statement.

On Saturday afternoon, thousands of protesters snaked through the downtown core in what was a mostly peaceful march until a breakaway group reached Queen Street.

With no apparent political message, the group's members smashed windows, vandalized storefronts and burned police cars in their wake. Their goal: To reach the sheltered security perimeter of the G20 summit.

Heavily armoured officers from the Integrated Security Unit used riot shields, batons and tear gas to control crowds. A spokesperson also confirmed the use of plastic bullets and pepper-spray guns, which fire individual sacs that release pepper spray on contact.

Police ramped up their arrests late Friday night and early Saturday morning, when pre-dawn raids led to the arrest of four key resistance organizers. Amanda Hiscocks, Peter Hopperton, Alex Hundert and Leah Henderson were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit mischief over $5,000. Prominent Toronto Community Mobilization Network spokesman and organizer Syed Hussan was arrested late Saturday morning and charged with counselling to commit an indictable offence.

Riot police make a mass arrest in front of the Novotel Hotel in downtown Toronto, during large demonstrations for the G20 summit.

Shortly after midnight, police conducted mass arrests outside the Novotel following a standoff inside the hotel, where staff are on strike. About 300 people were arrested outside the hotel, the ISU said.

Activist journalist Jesse Rosenfeld, who was helping to organize alternative media coverage of the summit, was arrested in the melee at the Novotel. Mr. Rosenfeld has previously written opinion pieces about the G20 for The Guardian's Comment is Free website.

Mr. Rosenfeld was charged on Sunday with breach of the peace, his father, Mark Rosenfeld, told The Globe. Mark Rosenfeld said his son is expected to be released at 11 p.m. Sunday.

Shortly after learning of his son's arrest, Mr. Rosenfeld told The Globe he was "in shock".

"I find the treatment of my son, and all journalists and peaceful protesters threatened with arrest, reprehensible," Mark Rosenfeld said.

Journalist Steve Paikin, host of TVO's The Agenda, said police were overly aggressive during the arrests.

"i can appreciate that the police were on edge today, after seeing four or five of their cruisers burned. but why such overreaction tonight?" he posted on his Twitter account.

With reports from Jennifer MacMillan, Jeremy Torobin, Jill Mahoney, Ann Hui, Natalie Stechyson, Laura Blenkinsop, Katie Hewitt, Jeff Gray, Colin Freeze, Cigdem Iltan and Matt Frehner.

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