The City of Toronto will never forget the mayhem the ensued three years ago, when the G20 Summit came to town and the downtown core was wretched apart by overbearing police forces and demonstrators, some violent and acting will ill intention and others simply treated liked they were.
What followed was the largest mass arrest in Canadian history, when more than 1,000 demonstrators were taken into custody, often forcefully, and held in pens before most often being released without charges.
Police tactics used during that weekend in June 2010 have been criticized, police actions have been questioned. And this week, a police officer was convicted for his actions.
One police officer.
Toronto police Const. Babak Andalib-Goortani was found guilty of assault with a weapon for the attack on demonstrator Adam Nobody, who was kicked, punched and beaten by a collection of officers while in a zone deemed to be a safe protest area.
Based strongly on video taken of the incident, Judge Louise Botham ruled that Andalib-Goortani went beyond his rights as a police officer when he struck Nobody with his baton several times during the arrest.
"A police officer is not entitled to use unlimited force to effect an arrest," Botham said in her ruling, according to CBC News.
"Justice is served," Nobody told reporters after the verdict. "They can't get away with stuff like this. They can't attack citizens."
It is a nice sentiment and, yes, even Nobody considers the verdict a win for the mistreated G20 demonstrators.
But watch the video again and ask yourself one thing. Did Andalib-Goortani act alone? Was he singly responsible for the injuries caused to Nobody?
No, it would appear to the untrained eye that Andalib-Goortani was backed by a horde of other officers during the incident that left Nobody's nose broken and cheekbone shattered.
Andalib-Goortani was not wearing a name tag or badge during the incident, and the investigation into the assault was nearly called off at one point because, shucks, other officers had trouble remembering who he was.
Here we are, three years after the fact, and just has been done. One officer out of the pack that swarmed Nobody has been found guilty.
The identities of the rest remain unconfirmed. Their faces covered by riot gear, even video evidence of the attack is not enough. Andalib-Goortani was perhaps only identified thanks to a brief moment when his face becomes visible. Had he kept his chin tilted down, perhaps this day never comes.
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Countless other incidents not caught on camera, officers remain unidentified because they went onto the streets without identification. Is justice truly done with the conviction of one officer?
A Toronto Star editorial opines:
A criminal conviction against one officer who happened to get caught on video is a small triumph. Many other officers who lashed out at protesters who were demonstrating peacefully will never be tried. Hundreds of Torontonians who were threatened, cornered, stripped of their belongings — including a prosthetic leg — and locked up will never get a hearing.
The only other officer to go to trial for his actions during the riots was Const. Glenn Weddell, charged in a separate incident, and he has already been acquitted.
Nobody is right to celebrate the Andalib-Goortani verdict as a win. In his own words, it is rare enough that a single police officer is ever convicted.
Andalib-Goortani will be sentenced on Nov. 8. The Toronto Police Association is already looking into a potential appeal.
So perhaps it is too soon to consider even this conviction a "win" for Nobody, or anybody else.
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