On Friday,September 7th, ecoSanity.org staged a peaceful protest of the Toronto International Film Festival (Group) by successfully blocking the main vehicle access route to the George Clooney, red carpet Gala at Roy Thompson Hall with a large, white van that had our GET SANE banners taped on each side while another team held another GET SANE banner on one corner.
Although Mr. Clooney had arrived earlier than expected and was already on the red carpet, we delayed several limos and congested the intersection for a substantial period of time.
ecoSanity.org Founder, Glenn MacIntosh, was promptly arrested for mischief and obstruction for refusing to move the van. But this was only the beginning.
To minimize expense, a Lawyer had not been retained and, after a long, sleepless night in a freezing cold jail cell with a stainless steel plank for a bed (they freeze you to keep you uncomfortable), Glenn’s government appointed “Duty Council” bungled bail Saturday morning when the Crown became concerned that Glenn might attempt another protest.
Many long waits in cold holding cells packed with dangerous, impatient criminals later, Glenn was imprisoned Saturday night at “the Don”, the most dangerous jail in Toronto where, after 24 shivering, uncertain hours, he finally had a little food and got some sleep.
That same night, one of the guys Glenn went in with was assaulted by a flurry of blows from several inmates for using a phone without their consent. The next afternoon was Glenn’s first opportunity to risk asking the prisoners for permission to make a call since declining to contact a Lawyer on the night of his arrest (Note: if you attempt to ask a guard for anything, the prisoners will beat you up).
Glenn was very lucky to have been able to contact ecoSanity.org‘s, Soo Luen Tom, who later visited to get more details, then set out to retain quality council for the scheduled Monday morning bail hearing.
A Lawyer was arranged, a deal was struck and a friend of Glenn’s – also a Lawyer – was able to secure his release Monday afternoon for a surety of $5,000 and assurance that he would stay at least 500 metres away from Roy Thompson Hall.
However, on the Sunday evening prior to his release, Glenn was the last of his cellmates to be dragged by prisoners around “the Range” (the generally unsupervised common area of the floor outside the prison cells) by his neck with a towel until near unconsciousness — twice — and was punched in the head.
Only minutes after that, another inmate was severely beaten, but narrowly escaped and snitched. The floor was locked down for the night (everyone locked into their cells, 3 per cell) and this probably saved Glenn from further physical harm.
My sincere thanks to the volunteers who participated in our action: to P and P for their support, encouragement and speaking cues on the night of the action; to A for making it possible to get the banners on the van in time to arrive as scheduled; to A for taking what I expect are terrific stills photos; to Y for being so helpful that night and for forwarding such a moving and inspirational e-mail a few days later.
I’d also like to thank two close friends for rushing footage online and for bailing me out (they know who they are).
Most of all, I’m grateful to Soo Luen, not only for carrying many of the arrangements on the day of the action, retrieving the van from impound and returning it to Richmond Hill late the following night, but for working tirelessly throughout the upsetting, days-long ordeal to insure my safe release amidst very trying circumstances.
Please read our press release to further clarify what we were attempting to achieve, why we targeted TIFF(G) and how our action was intended to compliment and appeal to George Clooney‘s humanitarian efforts and sensibility (See One: The Campaign To Make Poverty History and Not On Our Watch).
With friends and supporters like all of you, we are moved and motivated to work even harder to get our urgent message out and inspire others to do the same.
The planet won’t wait for us to save it, ourselves or those we love.
- Article – Inside the Toronto South Detention Centre: The one billion dollar hellhole, Toronto Life
- Article – Hell House: Why the Don Jail is a wretched, dangerous dungeon that should have been shut down ages ago, Toronto Life
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