G20 Protesters in Court

300 appear to face charges in Toronto

Franc Lévesque-Nichol was one of over 1,000 who were arrested during the G20. Photo Christopher Curtis

Franc Lévesque-Nichol woke up in the middle of a police raid. Like so many other G20 protesters, Lévesque-Nichol spent the early hours of June 28 sleeping in a University of Toronto Gymnasium.

“I was barely awake and [the police] had their weapons drawn, yelling for us to stay down or be shot,” he said. “As I was being arrested, one of my colleagues was getting his face smashed against a brick wall and the whole time the police were also ransacking the UofT’s student union offices. A student union representative was also badly beaten and arrested even though he had nothing to do with the protests.

“It was awful.”

Within minutes, Lévesque-Nichol was handcuffed and carted off to a detention center where he spent almost three days behind bars.

On Aug. 22, Lévesque-Nichol and about 80 other protesters who had been arrested during the G20 boarded a pair of yellow school buses outside Concordia’s Hall building. The group headed for Toronto where they would appear before a judge to face charges related to their involvement in June’s protests. The trip was organized by the Anti-Capitalist Convergence of Montreal.

“We came to Toronto today hoping all of the charges would be dropped because so many of the charges were trumped up and lacked evidence,” said Robyn Maynard, a spokesperson for the ACCM. “But some of the charges have actually been augmented.”

The ACCM organized the bus trip to Toronto for its members and any Montrealer facing G20 related charges. During the G20 over 1,000 people were incarcerated in what became the largest mass arrest in Canadian history.

“Once we were detained the conditions were deplorable,” said Lévesque Nichol. “It was maybe six or seven degrees in my cell, which was crowded and bright and filthy. We were routinely harassed, [and] there was a minor with us who the police kept calling faggot and queer and weak.”

Lévesque-Nichol was never formally charged with anything prior to his arrest. He was only allowed to speak to a lawyer 36 hours into his detention and was given his conditional release after 61 hours in a holding cell.

His identification, glasses and other personal possessions were returned to him over a month later.

In all, about 300 people packed into a small Toronto Courthouse on Aug. 23. Many among the group will have their court dates postponed until October.

“We don’t know what expect with any of these court proceedings because there is no historical precedent for any of this,” said Maynard. “Today marks the biggest mass court appearance in Toronto history.”
At least two people who were arrested during the G20 remain in police custody.

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 02, published August 24, 2010.