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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.

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.

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