Occupy Toronto to protest after police officer who punched woman was cleared by police watchdog
Occupy Toronto protester Angela Turvey speaks to reporters after she was released on bail Saturday, March 31, 2012. Turvey alleges police brutality in her arrest, which occurred a day earlier.
The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, July 10, 2012 5:19PM EDT
TORONTO -- Occupy Toronto demonstrators planned to march to police headquarters Tuesday night in a show of resistance against the province's police watchdog, which recently cleared an officer who said he punched one of the group's members during an arrest.
The march's organizers argue that the Special Investigations Unit's ruling last week amounts to condoning police brutality.
A police officer should be able to "restrain somebody without giving them seven stitches and breaking their nose," said Darryl Richardson, an Occupy Toronto organizer and television broadcast student at the city's Seneca College.
Occupy Toronto identifies itself as part of the international Occupy movement, which made headlines last year with its protests against a variety of social justice issues, including economic inequality and corporate greed.
The investigation being disputed Tuesday was launched after 37-year-old Angela Turvey was arrested and injured March 30, when a group of Occupy Toronto demonstrators protested outside a downtown Toronto courthouse.
Five Occupy protesters were arrested earlier that day when police moved to evict them from a camp set up near city hall.
The group had already been removed several months earlier from its original camp at St. James Park, located a few blocks from the city's financial district.
Richardson said he was upset and shocked by last week's SIU decision and would have liked to see charges laid against the officer who arrested Turvey.
Turvey had a broken nose, a black eye and required seven stitches above her right eye after the scuffle, but the SIU report found that it wasn't clear whether the injuries were from the officer's punch or from her head hitting the ground during her arrest.
SIU investigators examined security footage and interviewed six officers and 14 other witnesses.
Turvey interfered with another protester's arrest and aggressively resisted her own arrest, which made it hard to tell whether the officer used excessive force, said SIU director Ian Scott.
As a result, the investigation found there were no grounds to charge the officer.
Video footage of the incident, however, is still being debated.
Turvey was filming her surroundings in the moments leading up to her arrest in a video available online, but the SIU report states that a security video best captured the confrontation.
That video shows Turvey refusing orders to back away from police during a man's arrest, swinging at officers and then, after the punch, struggling on the ground with police as she was arrested, said the SIU report.
Richardson said he is still waiting to see that security video.
In the aftermath of the SIU report, the goal of Tuesday night's march and rally was to send a message that police violence won't be tolerated, said Richardson.
"The public is not going to sit idly by and just watch this sort of thing happen," he said.
The SIU is called in whenever someone is killed or seriously hurt while interacting with police.