Many people are now familiar with the story of Adam Nobody - a Toronto resident who ventured downtown during the G20 meetings and got to see a dark side of the Toronto Police Services that many of us thankfully do not ever encounter.
On the morning of June 26, the Saturday of the G20 summit, Mr. Nobody heard about the protests but wasn’t much interested. Eventually, he wandered over to the designated protest area at Queen’s Park to see what was going on. Bored, he went to buy some beer and a poster board to make his own protest sign. When he returned to Queen’s Park he busied himself with his sign, a joking homage to an episode of Beverly Hills 90210, which read “Let Donna Graduate.”
As he finished writing, a line of police approached from behind. He started to back away, and then an officer charged at him. Mr. Nobody said he turned and ran. He threw away his bag, and then the officer dove and tackled him. This is the sequence that can be seen on the YouTube video.
What Mr. Nobody says happened next wasn’t caught on tape. He said that after being led behind a police wagon shielded from public view, another officer asked him his name. “Adam,” he replied. He was again face down, an officer’s boot resting on his head.
“Adam what?” the officer asked, according to Mr. Nobody’s recollection.
“Adam Nobody,” he said.
He said the officer lifted his boot and kicked him in the face. He kicked him again. And again. “Stop being a smartass,” the officer said.
Mr. Nobody ended up with a shattered cheekbone, and a broken nose. Blood poured from his head. His eye was swollen shut. Mr. Nobody spent 31 hours in jail. He spent three days in hospital. He went through several hours of surgery to repair his broken nose.
One of the key questions is who arrested Mr. Nobody. The officer listed on the arrest record provided a badge number that doesn’t correspond to anyone on the Toronto force, according to the SIU, or to any officer believed to have worked in G20 policing.
He was charged with assaulting a police officer, and obstruction of a police officer but all charges were eventually dropped.
Instead of providing an apology, Police Chief Bill Blair took issue with the use of the video in the investigation, saying that a police examination of it had shown it had been edited and did not provide enough context to show why police used force. He also suggested that Adam Nobody was armed and violent when arrested by police. He later had to apologize on both issues.
Chief Blair who has done a great job since he took over running the Police Services has had a rough time with this case. The SUI has reopened the case but no officer at the scene is stepping forward to identify those involved. It seems that police officers are much like the rest of society and have difficulty with accepting responsibility for their actions.
The cost of the G20 may have been close to $1 billion but now add to the costs, the lost trust of our police through excessive use of force, detaining innocent civilians, and avoiding identification by not wearing their badges.
Is this really Canada?