Interview with journalist arrested and beaten covering G20

In a Rabble Radio podcast,
journalist Jesse Rosenfeld speaks about covering the G20, his violent
arrest, and the conditions in the holding cell.

Rosenfeld was on assignment for The Guardian, and is also a regular contributor to The Daily Nuisance.

(The second half of the Rabble podcast features an interview with Amy Goodman, the host of the radio/tv/podcast Democracy Now! who spoke about what it means to have an independent media, and why it is important.)

Rosenfeld was covering the protests in Queen’s Park when the RCMP ordered everyone to leave. He tells Rabble that the tactic “instantly radicallized” the crowd, who suddenly found themselves with nowhere to go to get their message across.

The crowd made their way south toward the security gates, Rosenfeld and other media among them. They soon found themselves surrounded by riot police, he says:

“I was with a block of the alternative media. We asked the police if they would be arresting media as well, and their immediate response was yes, you’re not supposed to be here, everyone is being arrested.”

Rosenfeld, who had been granted a summit press pass but hadn’t received the credentials in time, only had his regular press accreditation.

“An officer looked at my press pass and said ‘this isn’t legitimate, you’re under arrest’, and I was immediately jumped and beaten to the ground. I was punched in the stomach, my arms were pulled back, I was hit in the back and thrown to the ground. After I was down the cops piled on me, hitting me in the back of the ribs. They lifted up my legs, twisted my ankle and sprained it, and my face was pushed into the concrete.”

The violence happened after the officers identified Rosenfeld as the “quote on quote ‘loudmouth’ that had been bothering them the day before” with his press coverage. Rosenfeld saw them snatch a microphone from another journalist.

In the temporary holding cell built specially for G20 arrests, Rosenfeld was stuck in handcuffs from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. in an overcrowded cell. He was unable to make a phone call to his lawyer until 3 p.m. the next day, and says many arrestees were denied that right altogether. There were no benches, no room to lay down, and no bathroom, “just a cold concrete floor.” The cell was freezing, but no blankets were provided. In the makeshift prison Rosenfeld also saw “other indepedent media journalists who had been beaten and arrested.”

He told Rabble that he hadn’t expected to be beaten, but wasn’t surprised.

“This is what Canadian police do, they beat people and get away with it. It’s not a new story, it’s a daily reality of many people.”