Quebec: Summit Police Used Excessive Forcegreenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread
Monday, April 30, 2001
Summit police used excessive force, panel says But constitutional rights not violated, report finds By ALEXANDER PANETTA-- The Canadian Press
QUEBEC (CP) -- Police officers used "abusive" amounts of tear gas and were wrong to shoot rowdy protesters with plastic bullets during the Summit of the Americas, says a report released Monday by a Quebec government-appointed panel.
But despite the show of force, police did not violate the Constitutional rights of peaceful protesters at the April 20-22 summit, the panel concluded.
"We're asking ourselves serious questions about the use of gas, in certain cases, against small groups of apparently harmless people," said the panel, which included former Bloc Quebecois MP Daniel Turp.
About 1,700 tear-gas canisters were launched by police throughout the summit weekend, which left Quebec City covered in a putrid stench for three days. Authorities used so much tear gas that they had to order more from the United States.
The panel concluded that officers used an "abusive" amount of tear gas.
Police also placed protesters at risk when they fired rubber or plastic bullets into the crowd, the report said.
Still, officers from the RCMP, the provincial police and two municipal forces remained generally patient while they were hit with flying rocks, sticks and Molotov cocktails during the summit two weekends ago, the panel concluded.
"Under the circumstances, the behaviour of police officers. . . did not restrict or place unreasonable limits on (the protesters') freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and personal security."
The panel also had harsh words for prison officials, who crammed up to five protesters into tiny jail cells where many slept without mattresses and covers.
More than 400 people were arrested and scores were injured during the summit.
Several protesters and police officers suffered serious injuries, including one officer who was beaten with metal bars and one protester who was hit in the neck with a plastic bullet.
The protester needed surgery and reports have said he might never speak again. He was reportedly considering legal action.
The five-member panel was appointed by provincial Public Security Minister Serge Menard to observe the actions of police officers at the summit.
-- Rachel Gibson (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 30, 2001