Top cop calls rioters 'terrorists,' promises review
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Tuesday, June 29, 2010 9:34PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 2:04AM EDT
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair said Tuesday that anarchists using black bloc tactics are "terrorists" and some G20 demonstrators were complicit in allowing them to run amok on the city's streets.
"They came to attack our city, they came to attack our summit, they came to commit crimes and victimize people in this city," he said of the black-clad, masked vandals during a news conference.
Blair also showed media a number of weapons seized during the G20 protests, including baseball bats, a BB gun and arrows that Blair said were equipped to be set on fire and shot at officers.
Other items were displayed by the police such as golf balls, bike helmets, goggles and gas masks.
However, two prominent weapons displayed -- a crossbow and a chainsaw -- were not seized from rioters and were instead taken Thursday from a man who has been described as mentally troubled.
"The weaponry you see before you today is just small portion of the evidence that we gathered of what is most certainly a criminal conspiracy of not dozens, but hundreds," Blair said.
He said many of those "hundreds" came from outside of Toronto, but did not have specific numbers.
While praising his officers' restraint and professionalism, Blair also promised a review into every aspect of the way police conducted themselves during the G20 summit.
Blair announced Tuesday that a review team would provide an assessment of the "strengths and weaknesses in the police force's G20 plans" -- and will help to better prepare for future events like the summit.
"We feel it's extremely important, with an event of this unprecedented size and complexity, to ensure that we examine everything we did and how we did it," Blair said in a statement released Tuesday morning.
"This will ensure that our procedures are tested thoroughly, and that we identify any areas that may require further examination.
"I have no doubt that the SMAART report will also benefit other law-enforcement agencies in Canada and abroad."
The review team is called the Toronto Police Service Summit Management After Action Review Team (SMAART).
Blair also announced the creation of a special investigative team to examine crimes committed during the G20.
"We will investigate every crime committed at the Summit, and track down and charge all those responsible. I would ask those who have information, images, or video to work with us to hold accountable those who have chosen violence," he said in a news release.
Later Tuesday, the Toronto Police Services Board issued a statement saying that both the province's Special Investigations Unit -- which investigates incidents of serious injury or death involving police officers -- and the Office of the Independent Public Review Director, which deals with public complaints, are on hand should any events related to protests need reviewing.
"The Board looks forward to the findings of these agencies' investigation of any cases of serious injury or any public complaints," the statement read.
Toronto police also announced they arrested a British man on Thursday for allegedly impersonating a peace officer.
According to police, 29-year-old Charlie Veitch was filming the security fence around the summit. It is alleged that he identified himself as an undercover police officer. He was eventually apprehended at Pearson International airport prior to boarding a flight.
Police actions questioned
Blair's announcement comes as questions are being raised about the tactics used by police, from the way they allowed the "Black Bloc" anarchists to run amok downtown, to questionable crackdowns on protesters during what were widely seen as lawful, peaceful protests.
The handling of a standoff at the Queen and Spadina intersection on Sunday has drawn intense criticism. Police cordoned off both protesters and anyone else caught in the crossfire.
Toronto Mayor David Miller said he regretted some innocent people "got caught up" in the arrests, and said it was the result of police having to deal with "Black Bloc" tactics.
Summit officers seemed to take a more aggressive approach to policing on Sunday, after riots during the international conference on Friday left police cars torched, stores vandalized and over 900 protesters arrested.
Blair said less than half of those 900 people will be charged.