Toronto G20 Summit Protests

When the G20 Summit was scheduled in Toronto for June 26th and 27th in 2010, it lead into an uproar of protesting that was something that had never been seen in the city. Protesters and police services were planning for months prior to the weekend to determine what their strategies and methods were to anticipate what was going to happen. Protesters were demonstrating for a variety of global concerns, such as poverty, capitalism, LGBTQ rights, globalization, Indigenous rights, and even about how much the Summits cost. The agenda of the G20 Summit was to begin recovery from the ongoing global recession, and brainstorming ways to help many countries of Europe who are in debt. Along with international development, including aid to developing countries.

The protests begin rather peacefully while they were marching down the streets on Saturday, June 26th 2010, towards the Public Works area outside of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, where the G20 Summit took place. A “Public Works” area is a section of public property designated for infrastructure development in society, thus only certain personnel are eligible to get in to these areas, and need some sort of security clearance, which were the city police in this situation. Although Public Works is a broad area of what constitutes an area of such; the designated protesting area was deemed one, leaving protesters subject to searches prior to entering the fenced in area (Wachsmuth & Malleson, 2011). As they marched, more protesters joined in the trek to show their dissent to government officials convening. The turning point of the weekend began when a group of about 75-100 protesters, which many have characterized as anarchists, split off from the rest of the congregation of protesters along Spadina Ave. and started on Yonge Street. This group began vandalizing many international chain-store companies along Yonge Street, once gaining their momentum from this, more protesters joined, and their destruction went on to lighting police cars on fire. After the weekend they were identified as the Black Bloc, as they wore all black clothing and balaclavas. Initially, this did not lead to the peak of arrests of the weekend, immediately following these acts of dissent, but it was the next day of June 27th, 2010 when the police had stepped back to attempt to gain intelligence on the specific individuals who had turned to these criminal acts. This Sunday was the largest police mobilization that the police and the city had seen, leading to 1105 arrests in the wake of the events the day before for police to incapacitate the protesters in hopes of finding the criminalized dissenters.

Intelligence and police services began security preparations for this Summit in February 2010, which Toronto Police Chief at the time, Bill Blair announced that they did not have enough time to completely prepare for the event (News, CBC, 2011). There were 26 police agencies that helped with the Toronto G20 Summit, it ranged from low-policing to high policing agencies. Total security costs for the G20 Summit was determined to be $1.8 billion paid fully by the Canadian government, although this only covered the intelligence, police, and security services and excluded any costs that arose from damages during the protests and riots (Wachsmuth & Malleson, 2011). Part of the security for the Summit was a 3.5m (10ft.) high fence that ran for multiple kilometres, this includes surrounding the Public Works area. Police services designated a temporary detention centre, for individuals that were arrested for association to protesting during the Summit, which was a former film studio on Eastern Ave. Police services militarized their officers by arming them with riot shields, helmets, and more tactical gear. They exercised practices of kettling, which is when a militarized group surrounds the protesters and move closer together corralling them together to calm down the situation. Although from accounts of demonstrators who were corralled on Sunday night of June 27th, it did not calm them down, it made them angry, scared, and frustrated for exercising their rights to free speech and expression. This was the result of the Major Incident Command Centre (MICC) of the Summit believed the protesters had intentions of possibly turning the path towards the Summit fences to breach the area. At 5:53 pm, the MICC advised that Conspiracy to Commit Mischief would be the charge for the arrests to come.” (Toronto Police Service), the MICC was commanding field officers to box (kettle) the protesters. “Alternative courses of action including directing the march north on Spadina Avenue, containing the crowd and then designating a dispersal route, or funnelling the crowd through a checkpoint were suggested.” Although these strategies were ultimately turned down and the intersection of Spadina Ave. and Queen St. West were locked down and all protesters were arrested once boxed in (Toronto Police Service). Later on that night, at 8:38PM on June 27th, the Deputy Chief of Police, who was the Specialized Operations Commander informed officers that order of the city had been restored and no more arrests should be made pertaining the protesting of the G20 Summit, and those arrested for breaching the peace for protesting should be released.

Toronto G20 Protests Video



Canadian Civil Liberties Association., & National Union of Public and General Employees. (2011). Breach of the peace: A citizens’ inquiry into policing and governance at the Toronto G20 Summit: public hearings, November 10 to 12, 2010, Toronto and Montreal. Ottawa, Ont: National Union of Public and General Employees and Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

Delacourt, Susan. “G20 Security Tab: What Else Could $1B Buy?”, 28 May 2010,

Kitchen, V., & Rygiel, K. (June 01, 2014). Privatizing Security, Securitizing Policing: The Case of the G20 in Toronto, Canada. International Political Sociology, 8, 2, 201-217.

Kourounis, George, director. G20 Protests in Toronto Turn Ugly. Youtube, 9 July 2010.

Morrow, Adrian. “Holding police accountable after G20.” Globe & Mail [Toronto, Canada], 21 June 2011, p. A9. Canadian Periodicals Index Quarterly, Accessed 7 Feb. 2018.

News, CBC. “G20 Protest Violence Prompts over 400 Arrests.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 27 June 2010,

News, CBC. “G20 Police Didn’t Have Time to Prepare: Chief.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 24 June 2011,

Shirtliff, R. (October 01, 2010). The G20 Summit, Protests, and Policing. Peace Magazine, 26, 4, 24-26.

Toronto Police Service. “Toronto Police Service After-Action Review.” Review of G20 Summit., pp. 1–70.

Wachsmuth, D., & Malleson, T. (2011). Whose streets?: The Toronto G20 and the challenges of Summit protest. Toronto: Between the Lines.



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