January 17, 2015
Toronto Police Supt. David (Mark) Fenton walks towards elevators at police headquarters in November 2013
Toronto Police Supt. David (Mark) Fenton defended on Friday his actions at the G20 summit, saying that the city was being threatened by Black Bloc “anarchists.”
“I was only interested in the safety of the city of Toronto,” Fenton told a police disciplinary hearing. “I wanted the public to be safe.”
Fenton has been charged with unlawful arrest and discreditable conduct for ordering mass arrests and “kettling” — a controversial police control tactic that involves corralling and boxing-in a group of people — during the June 2010 G20 summit in Toronto. Fenton is the most senior officer to be charged under the Police Services Act in relation to the event.
On Friday, Fenton was cross-examined by prosecutor Brendan Van Niejenhuis.
Fenton likened the chaos that engulfed Toronto during the G20 to the violence that once racked his native Northern Ireland, which he left at the age of 22 in 1982.
Under cross-examination, Fenton suggested that ordinary citizens would have steered clear of the G20 protests if they weren’t involved. He also admitted that significant numbers of people who had nothing to do with protests were arrested in two kettling incidents while he controlled police activities from the Major Incident Command Centre at Toronto Police headquarters on College St.
The second kettling incident, which occurred at the intersection of Queen and Spadina on the evening of June 27, was meant to stop protesters from reaching the security fence that cordoned off the area where G20 delegates were meeting, Fenton said.
“I had intelligence that an attack on the fence was imminent,” Fenton told the hearing Friday.
On Thursday, he stated that “this was the last opportunity, if you will, for the anarchists to fulfil their stated goal of taking down the fence.”
Contrary to another police officer’s testimony, Fenton maintained that he authorized officers on the ground to exercise discretion and allow those not involved in the protests to leave the kettle at Queen and Spadina.
“My hope and goal was that we would be able to end this day without any further arrests,” Fenton said. “I never gave an order to arrest all present.”
Fenton also maintained that police officers at the intersection communicated with protesters to disperse. Witnesses have testified otherwise.
When the crowd failed to leave the intersection, Fenton acknowledged, he ordered them to be boxed in by police.
“One of the effects of a box is to calm a crowd,” he told the hearing.
Hundreds were arrested for breach of the peace after being kettled. Once they were arrested, Fenton stated that he lacked the authority to order their release.
The prosecution will continue cross-examining Fenton once the hearing resumes March 9. With lawyers’ final submissions not expected until June, the hearing officer’s final decision will likely come five years after the G20 summit.