'I assumed police officers were there to protect and serve and they were regular people doing the job for everybody. Now I don’t know if I can trust them.' - Nick Kapetaneas.
Toronto (11 Nov. 2010) - Nick Kapetaneas considered police to be his protectors before he went to the G20 summit in Toronto and became a poster boy of sorts for victims of police violence against innocent demonstrators.
|This Toronto Star photo shows Nick Kapetaneas being kicked by police at the G20. His girlfriend Morgan, next to him, was struck moments later near the legislature in Toronto.|
In a now widely-distributed photograph by Toronto Star photographer Richard Lautens, the 24-year-old Toronto resident emerges as a figure representing nearly everything that went wrong at the global summit last June.
The image shows Kapetaneas appearing to get his head kicked by an officer in heavy boots who was not wearing his name badge - as required by all police officers.
The woman next to him in the photo with her hair tied back by a scarf is his girlfriend, 27-year-old Humber College student Caitlin Morgan.
According to Kapetaneas, the unnamed officer kicked him in the head for no reason and then booted Morgan in the side with such force that she was on painkillers for two weeks.
"The incident occurred just south of Queen’s Park on the first day of the June 26-27 summit and the two say they and others who had done nothing wrong were also corralled and hit with billy clubs by police. Neither was detained but the experience left its mark," the newspaper reports.
“Every time I’m around a police officer I feel tense and anxious,” Kapetaneas said. “I assumed police officers were there to protect and serve and they were regular people doing the job for everybody. Now I don’t know if I can trust them.”
That’s a feeling shared by many appearing at special hearings being in Toronto and Montreal this week on G20 policing and accountability. The hearings have been arranged by the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA). Kapetaneas testified Wednesday at the hearings.
Report in January
A report on the hearings will be published in January. The idea is to put the events that occurred on the record, telling the stories of ordinary innocent people who were there and got caught up in excessive police tactics, says NUPGE and the CCLA.
Kapetaneas was angry to hear that officers who removed their name badges will probably be punished with nothing more than the loss of a day’s pay.
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair revealed the disciplinary action in Ottawa last week when he appeared before the Commons public safety committee to answer questions on G20 security. Blair said investigators viewed thousands of hours of video to identify about 90 officers on duty without name tags.
Morgan would like to see the officers disciplined seriously to ensure that "some kind of justice has taken place.” Morgan also wants the badgeless officers punished, particularly the one who applied his boots to her and Kapetaneas. “He was the one coming forward and hitting people and kicking people,” she said.
Police refused to say – when the Star inquiries were made – whether the officer in the photo was among the 90 facing disciplinary action.
Caught in 'kettle'
Two other protesters had similar experiences.
Terry Dafoe and Lucius Dechausay were heading home on the last day of the summit when they were hemmed in by police during a crowd control manoeuvre called a "kettle."
“The actual kettling was terrifying,” Dafoe said. “There were hundreds of police pounding their batons and screaming 'Move!',” Dafoe said. They spent more than three hours trapped there in the rain, unable to leave and unsure if they were being arrested or not.
“You can see how quickly your rights can be taken away,” Dechausay said.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE
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