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Hamilton Arrested In G20 Protest


Published: July 1, 2010 12:47 pm ET

Last Comment: July 1, 2010 4:50 pm ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

On Saturday night, Woodbine's harness racing analyst Mike Hamilton watched Sportswriter make headlines in winning the North America Cup at Mohawk Racetrack. Less than 24 hours later, just a block away from his home in Toronto, he found himself watching another headline story develop. One that landed him a trip to jail.

Although Hamilton was not a participant in the G20 protests that took place downtown Toronto this past weekend, he was present in the area where a protest occurred on Sunday and detained along with the group by riot police then transported to Scarborough’s 43 Division of the Toronto Police Service.

“I was out as I am most nice Sunday afternoons when I’m not working,” said Hamilton, who lives in the Queen and Spadina area, the location of Sunday’s protest. “I go out with my camera around Toronto. I was walking down the street one block from my house and a march came towards me and the streetcars were stopped in both directions so I carried on and watched standing on the sidewalk as marchers came by.”

Hamilton explained that police were both ahead of and behind the crowd of protesters on bicycles as they moved down the street. As Hamilton stood on the sidewalk taking photos of the spectacle, a small group of protesters sat down in the intersection.

“One guy had a boom box and he was tossing out Monopoly money and doing some type of a dance. I don’t know exactly what he was protesting,” explained Hamilton.

While violence and vandalism took place during Saturday’s protest involving the use of tear gas by police in the city for the first time, Hamilton says the protesters he witnessed on Sunday were peaceful. Although he didn’t get a sense of what they were protesting, he recognized that everyone seemed to have different agendas. “It was very unorganized and really clearly a nonthreatening protest.”

As people where standing around watching, Hamilton says he began to realize police had moved in on the group, blocking all sides of the street. Separate groups were blocked off in each of the four streets plus the middle of the intersection.

“At that point, I thought they were just going to wait these people out and they’ll let the bystanders file out but that went on and on and on for at least an hour. So we started to realize...okay, we’re not going anywhere, we are actually being detained here because we weren’t free to leave and they [police] wouldn’t speak to us.”

Hamilton says the riot squad came in to replace the front-line officers and proceeded to merge the separate groups into one, shouting “move” as they closed in on them.

“That was the only time that we heard the word ‘move’. They chanted ‘move, move, move’ but there was nowhere to go other than to back up and then there was another wall of them like a trash compactor. They were closing in from all four sides saying ‘move’.”

At that point, heavy rains began to fall soaking the crowd as they stood boxed in for two hours.

“At no point did anyone of us ever hear any orders to disperse, this is over, get out of here, go home...had I heard that I would have left. I would have left but I was never given that opportunity and it was slowly dawning on me when it was unfolding that I think we’re being detained here, until the point that we clearly were boxed in and now I realize that I don’t know how we get out of this.”

Hamilton noted that some individuals were taken out of the crowd in a violent manner before police handcuffed him and others charging them with unlawful assembly. Police bagged and tagged the belongings of those individuals and read them their rights while they waited another two hours to be transported to Scarborough’s 43 Division.

Upon arrival at the police station, four cops informed the group of both good and bad news. Good news? The charges were dropped and they were free to leave. Bad news? They were asked to leave the property immediately, unable to use the phones to make arrangements to get home.

“They were clearly just getting you out of the area, which is a good tactic on their part but you ask yourself if you were along the sidewalk and you didn’t do anything and you were never told to leave, is this a reasonable outcome and was the show of force commensurate with the threat that was posed by 40 people sitting in the intersection?”

Hamilton, who told Trot Insider that he's helped police solve a few crimes in the past, questions some of the actions from Sunday, noting a sense of confusion among the front line police and among those who were laying charges.

“I didn’t feel that I was ever in the wrong place. I didn’t think I was impeding the police. I was like one of thousands of people out on the streets of Toronto watching what was taking place. I didn’t feel I didn’t have a right to stand on a sidewalk in Toronto. I was never told otherwise.

“Some people said to me ‘why did you go down there?’ Go down there? This is where I live. This is my street, this is where I go for coffee at a restaurant on the corner everyday. And regardless, had I come down here it would have been totally legal too. In fact, I think even the people that were in the protest to some extent, it was a legal protest. It was certainly a peaceful protest."

July 1, 2010 - 4:50 pmMaybe the police have been

Maybe the police have been betting your picks!!!

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