Seven protesters are suing Toronto police for $1.4 million, claiming they were unfairly arrested and abused after being profiled by police, who looked for such things as “hairy legs.” That allegedly was one of the ways used to spot protesters — presumably those women with shaven legs were allowed to pass freely by the officers.
The women say that they were not only unfairly arrested and detained but sexually abused while in The seven were arrested on June 27, 2010 after they came out of a downtown pizza shop. The women say they were searched by male officers despite women officers being present and subjected to “derogatory and homophobic slurs.”
Their lawyers says that a profile developed by the senior police officials “included markers such as people who have backpacks, lawyers’ numbers on their arms, people with Quebec licence plates, people speaking French, people wearing black clothing.”
The complaint alleges that Police Supt. Mark Fenton characterized demonstrators as “protester terrorists.” The Ontario Independent Police Review Director has conducted an investigation into the incident and noted in its report that a constable wrote in his arrest notes that “all parties appear to be protesters; back packs; clothing and females all have hairy legs.” The arresting officer explained that “hairy legs” was an indicator he associated with female G20 protesters.
For full disclosure, I remain lead co-counsel (with Dan Schwartz of the Bryan Cave law firm) representing journalists and observers who were unfairly arrested during the World Bank/IMF protects in 2002. That case is still in discovery after it was discovered that key pieces of evidence had been destroyed or lost.