As world leaders gathered in Toronto a decade ago they were at first met by largely peaceful demonstrators pressing for action on climate change, and Indigenous and gay rights. But a small group of protesters smashed windows, looted shops and burned police cars in the main shopping district.
At first the police did nothing, but then about 20,000 officers from a variety of forces began making arrests, often violently. Most of those detained, a later, independent inquiry found, were peaceful or even just bystanders. Others were taken from homes without warrants, the report said.
The inquiry determined that the police had acted outside of the law.
That was in 2010, at the meeting of the Group of 20 in Toronto. On Monday, the city’s police force reached a multimillion dollar settlement in a class action brought by the demonstrators.
“Canada had never seen anything like what happened at the G-20 summit, and hopefully it never will again,” Murray Klippenstein, one of the two lawyers who led the class action, representing about 1,100 people, said in a statement.
The Toronto Police Services Board said in a statement that it was “pleased that through the efforts of all involved that a mutually agreeable resolution has been reached.”
Under the settlement, the police force will pay up to 16.5 million Canadian dollars, $12.5 million, to the claimants. Individual payments will vary from 5,000 to 16,000 Canadian dollars.
Violent clashes between police and protesters had certainly occurred in Canada before then. But the scale of the police action, and the harsh measures used shocked many Canadians. Security costs for the meeting, as well as for a smaller Group of 8 meeting, held around the same time, totaled about $1 billion, making it one of the most costly police actions in Canadian history.
Some of the techniques used by the police have reappeared this summer in the United States. Among them are encircling large crowds to prevent people from peacefully dispersing before charging in to make arrests, a practice known as “kettling.”
In 2012, Bill Blair, then Toronto’s police chief, acknowledged “that there were things that were not done well,” and promised to hold officers who engaged in “misconduct” accountable. It was widely noted at the time, however, that he did not apologize, except for an incident involving one protester.
Mr. Blair is now Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s public safety minister.
Five years ago, a Toronto officer was convicted of assault with a weapon; the evidence included a video that showed several officers repeatedly punching, kicking and striking with a baton a demonstrator in front of Ontario’s legislature. None of the other officers in the video were charged.
As part of the settlement, which will go to a judge for approval in October, the police will issue a statement about its activities in 2010 and a plan for policing future protests. It will also expunge any records on individuals it arrested during the summit.