Photo NOW Magazine, p.14
The following is from Geoffrey Bercarich, a Bike Pirates volunteer:
My name is Geoffrey Bercarich, age 26 and life long resident of Toronto, Canada. I was attacked and held illegally by Toronto Police in the “g20 jail” on Sunday June 27th, 2010.
I was riding in a special critical mass of cyclists, there was 600 cylists riding in group to take the media spotlight away from the property damage done to the city core the day before.
The bike ride was peaceful and no street laws where broken. The mass ride was riding along Yorkville and this is where I was attacked. A police cyclist blocked my path directly in front of me; another police cyclist struck me in the face, hitting my teeth with his fist. Another police cyclist threw his bicycle into mine causing me to fall to the ground. The squad of five police officers threw me onto the fallen police bike, pushing me down onto the bicycle and beat me in the face and the groin. The officer that struck me first held my knees open as another hit me repeatedly in the groin. I was then turned on to my stomach and my face was smashed into the street repeatedly, leaving a pool of blood. This all happened without any notification by the police officers as to what crime I committed or why they were attacking me. As the beatings continued I repeated in a strong voice, “I am not resisting.”
I was now on my stomach with my arms restrained behind my back with my face being pushed into the street under the knee of another police officer. A large group of police set up a line of police bikes to stop onlookers from getting a clear view on what was taking place. The police threatened the witnesses with arrest under the charge of obstruction of justice. As the beatings continued the officers repeatedly kneed me in the head, lower and upper back. There is heavy bruising around my right shoulder, cuts and bruises on my right knee and right elbow and my chin has a large cut that likely needed stitches. As I was being beaten, I cried out in extreme pain, “Stop the insanity.”
I was removed from the street, dragged into the near by parking structure on Yorkville Avenue . The arresting officers’ number was 8114, and his commanding officer was Sgt. Hicks. All other officers on site had no visible badge number and would not identify themselves. The police told everyone in the parking structure to leave or face arrest under the charge of obstruction of justice. They then spoke about taking me into a corner without any cameras. I was barely conscious as the beatings continued against the wall of the parking building. They threatened to beat me if i did not remain silent, i repeated one thing, “I am complying”.
The officers then read me my rights and told me I was under arrest for inciting. All I could think about was my handcuffs, I could not move or feel my hands. I asked them repeatedly to loosen my handcuffs. Finally after thirty minutes of the police pushing my head into the wall, Sergeant Hicks ordered them to loosen my handcuffs. I was indebted to his mercy.
I was sent to the G20 jail site on Eastern Avenue and Pape. I arrived at the makeshift jail at 2pm, and I left by midnight. All charges dropped, no explanation given. I was let go under a verbal promise not to go to a protest again. I am now in fear for my life, I live in this city, I am active in the public life and workings of the city. I fear for they will pick me up and bring me back to the detention center at anytime.
G20 Detention center on Eastern Avenue.
I was brought to the detention center at 2pm, I left at 12am, my life would change between those ten hours. I was the first to be placed in one of ten holding cells. The holding cells were in a giant studio space with extremely filthy floors. Vomit and piss were present everywhere. The holding cell was ten feet wide and four feet deep. There was a latrine in every holding cell, the latrine was full to the point where it was overflowing onto the cells floor. I was the first to be brought into the holding cell. By the end of the day 25 people were being held in that cell, and all of us were handcuffed for the entire duration of our stay, other people in other cells told us they have been there for more than thirty hours. The cells became overcrowded to a point where people were handcuffed to the floor outside the cells.
I was beaten bad by the police, I asked for a medic and was laughed at by every police guard on duty. They told me there were more people hurt in worse ways then me. Not one medic was ever seen and no one that I knew of received any medical attention. Of the 25 people in my cell, half were not protesters, two needed medications that they never received and myself with open wounds and a handcuffed, bruised arm and shoulder. We were given a two day old stale cheese and butter sandwich, and given a small cup of water every five hours. The police guards had a unlimited supply of apples, bottled water, roast beef sandwiches and chocolate covered strawberries that they were eating in front of our cells. Some cell mates were so desperate for food they eat the thrown away apple cores left on my the cell wall. No one in the entire holding facility got a phone call to the outside world. I have two friends that have yet to be seen or heard from for over three days.
As I was let out, the officer escorting me got lost, thereby taking me through most of the detention facility. No one person had received a phone call, and the people that have specific charges laid against them were being held in one person cells that do not have enough space to lie down. As I walked past their cages, i saw the look of fear, anxiety and the loss of hope that can only be seen thorough the fear for losing ones life.
I now live under the fear that the Toronto police will raid my home and take me away to the dentition center again. I fear I have gotten away with my freedom and they will take it back at anytime.
June 28th 2010
Geoff Bercarich from the award-winning community cycling group ‘Bike Pirates’
volunteering his expertise in bike repair during the April 11, 2010 Eco-Fest and
Blessing of Bicycles at Trinity St-Paul's Centre for Faith, Justice and the Arts.
Geoff's Story on the CBC.