Earlier this afternoon, representatives of the Toronto Police Service led media on a guided tour of the prisoner processing centre at the Toronto Film Studios on Eastern Avenue, which was set up to temporarily house arrestees during the G20 summit. Michael Farrar, unit commander for the processing centre, said that of the roughly one thousand prisoners housed in the makeshift jail since the start of the summit, about seven hundred were released without charges. The remaining two to three hundred were charged with crimes.
Returning peace and order to Toronto’s streets, said Farrar, was “the number one purpose for most of the arrests.”
The majority of those who were brought to the processing centre had been arrested for what’s known as “breach of the peace,” which means their actions had been deemed disruptive to “the queen’s peace.” Breach-of-peace isn’t a criminal charge; this is why so many G20 arrestees were released with no charges after being held by police (in some cases for over twenty-four hours).
The sprawling facility takes up the better part of two soundstages, each about the size of an aircraft hangar. Staff Superintendent Jeff McGuire, who was on hand to field media questions, repeatedly said that he would “not dispute” allegations by prisoners of temporary discomfort (lack of water, bad food, overcrowding, and inability to make phone calls being some of the more common complaints), but he maintains that police upheld the law at all times, and did their best to see to the needs of those they detained.
“We’re responsible for the care of all custodies,” said Farrar.
“This is not some dictatorship. This is Canada.”
Check back later this week for our comprehensive photo essay on the interior of the G20 detention centre.
Photos by Michael Chrisman/Torontoist.