Toronto police fired tear gas on G20 protesters

Sun Jun 27, 2010 5:13pm EDT
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By Cameron French and Pav Jordan

TORONTO (Reuters) - Police in Toronto fired tear gas on protesters for a second straight day on Sunday as new violence surrounding the G20 summit erupted and the arrest tally climbed toward 600.

The latest clashes occurred as several hundred protesters marched on a temporary detention center for demonstrators arrested in riots on Saturday during which police used tear gas against the public for the first time ever in Canada's most populous city.

A police spokeswoman confirmed that officers on Sunday fired what are known as muzzle blasts, or "individual applications of tear gas" that are used typically against individuals at close range.

A Reuters witness in front of a former film studio in Toronto's port area where police are detaining protesters said he heard a loud "thunk" and saw clouds of smoke billow before police charged, scattering the crowd.

The weekend violence started on Saturday afternoon after groups of masked anarchists broke away from a larger, peaceful demonstration against the Group of 20 summit of rich and emerging economies, which ends on Sunday.

Protesters, many dressed in black gear, smashed windows of downtown stores and banks and torched police cars in a protest that police finally brought under control with tear gas and mass arrests.

"What we're prepared for today is more of what we saw yesterday," a police spokesman said. "We'd like to see demonstrations remain peaceful."

Protesters said police were being heavy-handed, using tactics that instigate violence rather than quell it. They also criticized the media for focusing coverage on violent clashes rather than the broader peaceful marches.   Continued...

<p>Police officers disperse demonstrators with tear gas during a protest of the G20 summt in Toronto June 27, 2010. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>