Officer who ordered kettling of G20 protesters found guilty on three out of five charges

“This decision to order mass arrest demonstrated a lack of understanding of the right to public protest." — John Hamilton, retired judge

Toronto (02 Sept. 2015) — A recent ruling from the Toronto Police disciplinary hearing has found Superintendent Mark Fenton, who was responsible for the kettling of peaceful protestors at the G20 in Toronto in 2010, guilty of two charges of unlawful arrest and one charge of discreditable conduct. He was found not guilty of one charge each of discreditable conduct and unlawful exercise of authority. 

"Mass arrest demonstrated a lack of understanding of the right to public protest"

The retired judge hearing the case, John Hamilton, concluded that by ordering police officers to box in — kettle — and conduct mass arrest of protestors, Superintendent Fenton left the police on the ground no choice but to proceed with the arrests which included innocent bystanders and peaceful citizens.

“This decision to order mass arrest demonstrated a lack of understanding of the right to public protest,” Hamilton said.

There were two incidents of kettling that came under question: one in front of the Novotel Hotel and the other at the intersection of Queen St. and Spadina Avenue. 

Orders "likely to bring discredit to Toronto Police Service," says retired judge

Hamilton also said that by ordering hundreds of protestors detained and kept outside during an extreme downpour was "likely to bring discredit to the reputation of the Toronto Police Service."

The sentencing hearing will begin in December. Fenton could be reprimanded or dismissed. If he retires prior to the sentencing, he can avoid penalties. 

There remain concerns over the length of this process and why more officers have not been charged. 

Complainants remain concerned about process 

“Supt. Fenton obviously has been held to account for what he did, but there are other people higher than Supt. Fenton who should be held to account,” said lawyer Paul Cavalluzzo, who represents a number of the complainants.

Following the G-20, the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), joined by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), called for an independent investigation to the human rights abuses and civil liberty violations by the police in Toronto. The organizations held open hearings in Toronto and Montreal to allow witnesses to testify about their treatment. 

At the time, James Clancy, NUPGE National President said, "The largest mass arrests in Canadian history were carried out with a flagrant disregard of human rights and civil liberties as well as the basic rule of law. It is scandalous that — five months after the event — not one government representative or police official has been held accountable."

To date, of the 32 cases of officers charged with various G20 incidents, only one is outstanding. Supt. Fenton is the most senior official to be convicted under the provincial police act.

More information: 

Review of G20 policing confirms findings of NUPGE/CCLA hearings

NUPGE calls for independent inquiry to investigate human rights and civil liberties violations at G20

NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 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