Police clash with G20 protesters, end in standoff

Mon Jun 28, 2010 8:19am EDT
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By Cameron French and Pav Jordan

TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto police clashed with protesters for a second straight day on Sunday, with a final standoff played out in the downtown core near the just-finished G20 summit of world leaders.

Police said that 605 protesters had been arrested by late afternoon. The running tally did not include the dozens seen detained by a Reuters witness just blocks away from where the Group of 20 leaders wrapped up talks focused on fixing the ills of the global economy.

The standoff lasted more than five hours, from the late afternoon through to the late evening, as hundreds of police in full riot gear hemmed in protesters at a normally busy downtown intersection. A heavy downpour and a severe thunderstorm warning added to the drama as the standoff continued until 9:43 p.m. EDT.

"We had evidence of Black Bloc (anarchist) people, we had people donning masks in that very group, that's exactly how everything started yesterday," said Staff Sergeant Jeff McGuire in explaining why police opted to move against the protesters.

The operation ended abruptly after a heavy downpour, and police released most of the crowd unconditionally, McGuire told reporters. He could not confirm the number arrested.

Earlier, police confronted another group of protesters and fired tear gas for a second straight day.

That clash occurred after hundreds of protesters marched on a temporary detention center for demonstrators arrested in Saturday's riots. Witnesses saw at least two muzzle blasts, and a police spokeswoman confirmed that "individual applications of tear gas" were fired on the crowd. The blasts are typically used against individuals at close range.

During Saturday's violence police used tear gas against the public for the first time ever in Canada's most populous city.   Continued...

<p>Police arrest a protester during a G20 march in downtown Toronto June 27, 2010. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi</p>