TORONTO – A Daily journalist with G20 media credentials was assaulted by police near a peaceful protest at the intersection of Queen and Spadina Sunday evening.
Stephen Davis was kicked, thrown against a wall, and violently searched by five officers near to where police detained hundreds of peaceful protesters after shooting rubber bullets and charging at crowds singing “O Canada”.
Davis said police accused him of being a member of the “Black Bloc” – the black clad groups accused of burning police cars and damaging property during Saturday’s protests – because he was carrying a camera and had a bandanna around his neck. He immediately pointed to the media badge around his neck, but the officers continued their search.
“They kicked my legs apart, pushed me into a wall, and hit me in the crotch. They searched me far more aggressively than they needed to, while swearing at me repeatedly,” Davis said. “Out of that crowd of people I can’t imagine what would have made me the one that they targeted – out of 8 or 10 people, they grabbed me.”
Davis explained that the police searched his entire person, including his camera bag, which included three professional lenses. When he asked them to close his bag to protect the expensive equipment, one officer told him, “That’s the least of your worries right now.”
“I’ve never been afraid of the police at all of the protests I’ve covered, including ones that have turned violent, because I’ve always thought that their movements were rational and predictable. I thought that if you stayed away from the people who were acting violently, you could stay away from the police. I’m really scared to be working as a journalist [during the G 20] because I feel like anyone could be arrested at anytime,” Davis said.
Davis was released without charge, and is continuing to cover the events in downtown Toronto. Yesterday, Jesse Rosenfeld, a former Daily editor writing for The Guardian newspaper’s website was reportedly beaten and arrested. He was released earlier this evening.
This story was updated at 9:45 p.m. EST to include details of other protests this weekend.