In the face of an onslaught of complaints, lawsuits and inquiries, Toronto police Chief Bill Blair on Thursday acknowledged for the first time that he made mistakes that night.
"We probably could have and should have reacted quicker," Chief Blair told The Globe and Mail. "When I became aware of [the ongoing containment], I said, 'That’s it, release them all immediately and unconditionally,' and that was done. But it probably could have happened sooner."
The admission is a new tack for Toronto police. In a news conference soon after the release of the corral, Staff Superintendent Jeff McGuire said of the detainees, "To those people, I cannot apologize to them, and I won’t." He called the situation "unfortunate," but said officers had the right to detain the group.
The confrontation began at around 6 p.m. on Sunday, June 27, after a group of protesters on bikes and on foot, along with a number of bystanders, arrived at the downtown intersection of Queen and Spadina Streets. Within minutes, several flanks of police in heavy riot gear surrounded the crowd from all sides and squeezed them into a contained area, a tactic known as “kettling.” The group of about 250 was contained there for approximately four hours, much of the time in a chilly downpour, as officers pulled detainees one by one out of the crowd for arrest.
Demonstrators who were involved have said the group was peaceful. Numerous bystanders have come forward, claiming they were caught in the corral while out shopping on the popular retail strip or while on their way back to residences in the area.
Chief Blair maintained on Thursday that the decision to box in the crowd of 250 was appropriate, claiming that major incident commanders were concerned for the public’s safety after 60 armed “black-bloc tactic” protesters were apprehended heading to the area.
— "Police made mistakes in G20 tactics, chief admits for first time ", The Globe and Mail