G20: At least one reporter beaten, several arrested

Toronto journalist Jesse Rosenfeld was arrested and beaten outside the G20 security fence near Toronto’s downtown Novotel hotel on Saturday night. According to his own account of events and that of TV Ontario host Steve Paikin, police punched Rosenfeld in the stomach and back while taking him into custody.

Rosenfeld, who writes regularly for alternative media outlets, was working on assignment for the British newspaper The Guardian, for which he was preparing a three-part comment series, the first instalment of which ran the day before the incident.

It isn’t clear how many working journalists were arrested during the protests but Rosenfeld was not the only one. The Globe and Mail reported Monday that Farzad Fatholahzadeh, a field producer with the CTV network, spent the night in jail after police – ignoring his statement that he was with the media – arrested him at Queen’s Park. According to the Globe, he was released quickly once security forces realized who he worked for. The Globe’s report also noted Rosenfeld’s arrest.

National Post photographers Brett Gundlock and Colin O’Connor were arrested and charged with unlawful assembly and obstructing police, while attempting to photograph clashes between police and demonstrators Saturday evening. They were released on bail Sunday. The Post published an account of their experience.

The CBC and QMI Agency were also among those reporting on the Rosenfeld incident.

In a interview with Rabble Radio, Rosenfeld said he was among a group of protesters and journalists boxed in by police outside the Novotel. When arrests began, he said, police said accredited journalists would be allowed to leave. Despite submitting a letter of assignment from the Guardian and being told he had been approved for press accreditation, Rosenfeld told Rabble Radio, he had not received his official press badge pending an RCMP background check, so was carrying only accreditation from an alternative media centre.

Rosenfeld said police told him his badge was not legitimate and immediately jumped him. He said police punched him in the stomach, twisted his arms behind him, hit him in the back and piled on him, pushing his face into the concrete. Before this happened, he said, two officers identified him as a “loudmouth that had been bothering them the day before.”

“It was clear to me that this attack was political,” Rosenfeld claimed on Rabble Radio.
Whatever the reasons for the arrest, Twitter posts from Steve Paikin, host of TVOntario’s The Agenda, confirmed some of Rosenfeld’s claims about the way it was carried out.

“The journalist identified himself as working for ‘the guardian.’ he talked too much and pissed the police off. two officers held him….” Paikin wrote in one tweet, and in the next “a third punched him in the stomach. totally unnecessary. the man collapsed. then the third officer drove his elbow into the man’s back.”

Shortly afterward Paikin, who was also escorted away from the area by police, wrote on Twitter: “”The demonstration on the esplanade was peaceful. it was like an old sit in. no one was aggressive. and yet riot squad officers moved in.”