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Blair defends G20 policing while critics call for his resignation

Activists representing several different groups demanded a full public inquiry into G20 policing on Friday, the day after Toronto police Chief Bill Blair released his own report on the summit.

“The Toronto police have released a report that frankly I can only describe as a joke,” David McNally, a political science professor at York University, said at the press conference.

Speaking at 25 Cecil St., McNally said the report is “a complete evasion of their responsibility of stripping citizens of their rights and for massively abusing police officers.”

Labour federation president Sid Ryan called on Blair to resign, echoing former mayor John Sewell’s words from Thursday.

“There is no question that Blair should be forced to resign and we need a full and independent inquiry to determine how this travesty of justice took place and who else should be held to account,” Ryan said.

The 70-page After Action report found that rampant vandalism took place because Toronto police lacked the ability to respond quickly enough and some officers weren’t properly trained in riot squad techniques.

It was “the first time that many TPS officers had experienced widespread criminality and mass public disorder,” the report read.

The report looked at the kettling of protesters on Sunday June 27, 2010, as well as management at the Eastern Avenue detention centre, including lack of access to lawyers and food.

To read the full report, click here.

“This was not a case of a few bad apples…there was a systematic problem – not just isolated incidents,” McNally said Friday.

He, along with representatives from the Ontario Federation of Labour, Amnesty International Canada, Council of Canadians, and No One is Illegal – Toronto, called for a comprehensive public inquiry into G20 policing and the abuse of civil liberties. 

A day after the report was released, Chief Blair spoke to CityNews anchor Gord Martineau (see video below) and remained unapologetic in the light of criticisms.

He defended the decision to allow anarchists to engage in vandalism, rather than put officers at risk.

“It was not a single point of attack, but multiple points of attack,” he stressed.  “Police officers not in protective gear, but in regular police equipment, were often confronted by large crowds, being threatened and attacked by people who were armed with baseball bats, and throwing rocks and bottles and urine and feces at them.

“Tactical decisions were made, as the report indicates, to withdraw those resources rather than to continue to have those officers at significant risk.”

Blair also rejected the notion that “sacrificial” police cars were allowed to burn. 

“It wasn’t sacrificial and that was one of the rather interesting myths that was perpetuated by some…It was a dangerous situation, the fire department was being attacked when they were trying to do their job and couldn’t go in unless we had people there to protect them.”

“We didn’t want them to be put in danger.”