The cover of today’s Toronto Star, with—at right—a photo of a police officer about to hit Torontoist reporter Wyndham Bettencourt-McCarthy with his baton.
The baton-clutching police officer captured beating protester Adam Nobody and wrestling National Post photographer Colin O’Connor to the ground on the weekend of the G20—the one who the Toronto Star has waged all-out war against on their cover for the past week—had at least one more target on Saturday, June 26: Torontoist’s Wyndham Bettencourt-McCarthy.
The unprovoked attack happened in the evening at Queen’s Park, as Wyndham was already rushing away from the packs of cops who’d begun swarming protesters. Her account of what happened, which we published shortly after:
At Queen’s Park South at around 6:45, the mood was calm, and police were standing in two lines, not interacting with protesters. Then at around 7:20, without warning, some police broke apart from the lines and ran north into the crowd on foot at seemingly random intervals, some grabbing individual protesters and dragging them back behind police barricades (where I couldn’t see them). Police hit some of the protesters that they grabbed with batons, and other police officers kept advancing towards the crowd and pushing it further north towards the Legislature Building.
Five minutes after first rushing the crowd and having already removed some protesters, a few groups of police ran forward with batons, and began hitting some protesters. Several unarmed men were beaten to the ground as they curled into the fetal positions—some were crying—while some of those onlookers who begged police to stop were hit with batons themselves. While quickly running away from police seconds after I saw the men on the ground, a male officer who I had my back to hit me in the side with a baton, above my hip. A medic from a volunteer group stopped to make sure I was alright after the police stopped advancing; others were far more in need of medical care. As I was leaving into the north half of Queen’s Park, the police rushed into the crowd again, and pushed protesters to the north side of the legislative building.
Wyndham’s bruise got much bigger, fast.
A few weeks later, at the same time as she was filing a complaint with the RCMP, Wyndham first saw the photo above: it’s the officer who hit her, lunging forward, with his arm bent back, on its way forward, his hand gripping tight to a baton, moments before it connects with Wyndham’s hip and stomach. Wyndham shirks away, grimacing, and tries with her left hand to temper the blow she knows is coming.
The photo was circulating on Facebook, and Wyndham posted it to G20Justice.com herself after, but when Torontoist’s attempts to determine the officer in the photo (whose badge, if he was wearing one, wasn’t visible), and the photographer who shot it (whose account of the strike we had wanted to hear), were both unsuccessful, we held publication.
While the officer still hasn’t been identified—he may be among these five—Wyndham spoke to the Star, after some of the paper’s readers pointed out that the officer pictured about to hit Wyndham and the one pictured hitting Nobody and taking down O’Connor was one and the same.
Police Chief Bill Blair, meanwhile, is promising further investigation from the Special Investigations Unit. In September, Wyndham received a letter from the RCMP saying that her complaint was being looked into. “I haven’t heard anything else” since, she says.
Torontoist is still searching for the officer who hit Wyndham with his baton, and the photographer who captured what happened. If you know anything, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.