This week, trial begins in a long-awaited civil case against Toronto Polices Services for its use of mass searches during the G20 protests. The CCLA is intervening in the case, Luke Stewart v Toronto Police Services Board, to defend the right to protest free from unnecessary and unconstitutional police interference.
Luke Stewart’s civil claim specifically challenges the Toronto Police Service’s use of mass and indiscriminate searches of protesters entering Allan Gardens during the G20 protests. During the G20 summit, police officers subjected protesters to a search as a condition of entry to Allan Gardens park – with or without suspicion of wrongdoing. After objecting to these searches and attempting to join the Allan Gardens protest, Luke Stewart was forcibly detained by police, searched, and had a pair of googles seized.
The CCLA will be arguing that it is an abuse of police power to seize personal property as a “condition of entry” to a public space and that legislation protecting against trespass must be interpreted in a manner consistent with the Charter rights, including freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom from arbitrary detention and freedom from unreasonable search or seizure. We are also arguing that damages for breaches of Charter rights may be an appropriate remedy in this case because an order of damages has the potential to influence conduct of police officers, hold police forces accountable for civil rights violations, and deter systemic violations of the Charter by policing organizations.