Toronto police swear off kettling

A year after the G20 summit in Toronto, the Toronto police have promised to permanently abandon the practice of "kettling," through which groups of demonstrators and passers-by are gathered into a police line and held indefinitely without charge or judicial oversight. Kettling is a form of extrajudicial detention, and has been found illegal in many jurisdictions around the world. The G20 summit saw the largest mass-arrest in Canadian history, though practically no charges were laid:

"The crowd control technique implemented at Queen & Spadina on June 27 will not be used again by the Toronto Police Service," spokeswoman Meaghan Gray said in the statement, a response to a list of G20-related questions sent by the Star...

Nathalie Des Rosiers, general counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, was heartened to hear Toronto police have ditched kettling.

"It is a violation of Section 9 of the Charter, which provides and guarantees the freedom from arbitrary detention," she said.

"It rounds up, detains and prevents from moving large groups of people for which the police have no evidence that they have done anything wrong..."

Stayshyn said Toronto police have lost all credibility on G20 issues, citing officers' reluctance to cooperate with the Special Investigations Unit and the removal of name tags during the summit, among other issues.

Exclusive: Toronto police swear off G20 kettling tactic

(Thanks, DaveGroff!)

(Image: Riot Police at Richmond and Spadina, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from 37483386@N02's photostream)


  1. Since there likely won’t be a major protest event held in Toronto for more than a decade, this is a remarkably empty promise.

  2. “the Toronto police have promised to permanently abandon the practice of kettling,”

    until the next time, when it will be called “potting”, which will be disallowed till the situation arises when “panning” will be necessary. This name changing shell game will continue unchallenged to the the day that power is really threatened by right. Then the police tactic will be called “shoot every bastard that’s not on his knees”.

    1. next time, when it will be called “potting”

      “Just pretend the crowd is a bunch of plants.”

      “Well, there are a lot of plants in there. See em? They’re all wearing our boots…”

      “Oh, great job pointing them out to everyone. Now we’re gonna have to stage some arrests just to get them out of there!”

  3. I don’t see them actually removing the practice any time soon.
    Being “against the rules” is one thing and “extreme circumstances” is another.

  4. Whether it’s an empty promise or not, at least such lip-service acknowledges people’s rights… now folks in the UK can bring a bit more pressure to bear on their police to quit this shit.

    And holy crap @ the laser idea. That’s actually a bit of a table-turner, IMO… if every 20th protester had one, surely the prospect of losing sight would give many cops a reason to reconsider taking them on…

  5. “[T]hough practically no charges were laid […]”

    317 individuals were charged. Now, it’s much less than the number arrested (1105), more half of the charges were dropped (187), and many of the others reached non-trial resolutions, but 317 is hardly “practically no charges”.

  6. Still won’t save their asses from millions of dollars in lawsuits. A hundred or so of the people kettled in that thunderstorm for a half-an-hour were the inhabitants of million dollar condos in the area out doing their Sunday shopping. They all have high-priced lawyers (some of them *are* high-priced lawyers) and they’re out for blood. It’s one thing to pull crap on the Blacks up at Jane & Finch but another entirely to kettle the matriarch of some financial dynasty who was out for a stroll on her walker.

    Note also that Toronto is full of people who fled Communist regimes to get away from junk like this. They know first hand what happens if you let anyone get away with it.

    1. Yeah, but so what? The thug/cops responsible don’t care, they won’t get fired, go to jail or any damn thing else. It’s like large corporations breaking laws, they don’t get punished so they keep on doing it.

      “They know first hand what happens if you let anyone get away with it.” Aside from picking up weapons and firearms I don’t see what they could do. It’s as I said above, and also they are part of your govornment which is beyond being accountable.

      I know that’s negative, but. I think every last one of the fuckers working those days should be fired, tried in court and serve a year or so of jail time, I don’t see even the tiniest thing happening though.

    2. Lord knows if any higher-ups in the police force or government will pay for their abuses of power, but I think you’re right in that they fucked up by sticking it to upper-middle class condo dwellers, random passers-by and, well, just a wide variety of white people not used to being treated badly by the authorities.

      The best was the mainstream media reporters who got kettled and watched it all in confused horror. They came to the protest hoping to maybe get some images of anarchist rioters being handily subdued by brave, resourceful, honourable police forces, and got a rude dose of reality.

      Rioters were allowed to run amok; peaceful citizens, protesting or not, got the boots.

      I’m hoping the June 25th rally gets a good turnout!

      1. Yah, the drop in their stock with the public has been dramatic. Last month there was a weird fire in a church in the Annex, a pretty well-off part of town. The cops canvassed the area to see if anyone had seen anything suspicious and no one would talk to them. So now the “Code 0f Silence” extends to upper-middle class whites as well as black gang members.

  7. I would like to point out that the Police response at the Stanley cup riot in Vancouver was way less aggressive and tended towards letting people disperse on their own unless they were involved in violent acts. There was no kettling that I know about. The Vancouver Police Department seems to have learned some lessons from last time rather than ignoring them. It gives one hope that this Toronto announcement in genuine.

  8. These fellas aren’t exactly trustworthy and no cop’s word is worth spam. Instead of accepting promises from these, well… criminals, maybe we should pass yet more laws forbidding the misconduct of police — and provide actual consequences rather than simply accepting their “aww shucks” non-apologies.

  9. They’ll kettle again as soon as they are told to. They are obeying higher authority – the real bosses of the world, the financiers and the wealthy. You can’t stop them. You can’t even find out who’s giving them their orders.

  10. Lasers? Kids, if you threaten them with an energy weapon that can blind, they WILL kill you. You will be labeled terrorists.

    Besides, it’s beatable. An opaque faceplate covers the eyes. On the inside are two OLED screens, one over each eye, fed by dual cameras on the helmet. That would protect the eyes from actual exposure to the light. And one could upgrade the armor on the faceplate to Kevlar, making the wearer not only lightproof, but proof against small caliber bullets.

  11. Ive been seeing these things in Montreal for the past 10 years.

    It goes like this:

    Let a couple of guys, police plants or not, break stuff.

    Put cameras on said guys.

    Police move in, beat everybody up, tries to make everyone go home.

    Bystanders will also “get some”.

    Show police “justification” for its violence on the 6 o’clock news.

    Rinse, repeat.

  12. No kettling but they will rip off your prosthetic leg, drag you on the ground, beat you, demand that you walk without said leg, while beating your daughter during a peaceful protest on the lawn of the Ontario Legislature, ‘cuz that’s just good clean fun.

  13. You know what I think? I think a few cops got beaten up pretty badly somewhere by people claiming to have been victim of kettling.
    Or something else happened that forced the usually thuggish toronto police to reconsider their position.
    toronto still hasn’t gotten its capitalization back, either.

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