G20 accredited student journalist assaulted by police
TORONTO (CUP) — Stephen Davis was kicked, thrown against a wall and searched by five police officers near where hundreds of peaceful protesters were kettled in downtown Toronto during the G20 summit on June 27.
Davis, a reporter for the McGill Daily, said police accused him of participating in black bloc tactics — the same technique used by disguised rioters accused of burning police cars and damaging property the previous day.
He said he was carrying a camera, was wearing a bandanna and 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 eight or 10 people, they grabbed me.”
Davis explained that the police searched everything, including his camera bag, which included three professional-grade 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,” he said.
Davis was released without charge, and continued to cover events in downtown Toronto later in the day.
But he wasn’t the only young journalist who had run-ins with law enforcement while covering the G20 protests.
Late on June 26, Jesse Rosenfeld, a freelance journalist working for the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper, was allegedly beaten and arrested while he was covering a sit-in on a city street corner. Toronto journalist Steve Paikin documented the entire incident on Twitter.
“As I was escorted away from the demonstration, I saw two officers hold a journalist,” Paikin tweeted. “Two officers held him, a third punched him in the stomach […] the man collapsed. Then the third officer drove his elbow into the man’s back.”
Paikin then wrote that a fourth officer who escorted him away from the scene told him the beating never should have happened.
Rosenfeld was released in the evening of June 27. He is a former editor for the McGill Daily, and was Quebec Bureau Chief for Canadian University Press in 2007.
For Davis, though, covering the G20 was unlike anything he had ever done.
“I’m really scared to be working as a journalist [during the G20] because I feel like anyone could be arrested at anytime,” he said.