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Fetal Position: inside the world of Lia Mills, the 16-year-old leader of a new generation of anti-abortion activists

Fetal Position

Lia Mills didn’t start Grade 7 with a plan to become famous. The year was 2009, and she was enrolled in a gifted class at Gordon A. Brown Middle School in East York. Everyone in her grade had to participate in a speech-writing contest. Winners would deliver their speeches in front of the school, and the school’s winner would battle district-wide. Most of Lia’s classmates chose serious, heavy topics such as human rights. Lia wanted to speak about abortion. She didn’t know much about it when she chose the topic, but the more she read, the more determined she became. She felt it was something God wanted her to do.

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Women accuse G20 police of equating unruly leg hair with unruly behaviour

During the G20 Summit in Toronto, being a lady with hairy legs was enough to attract police attention—that’s what a group of Hamilton women say, anyway. They’re among seven people who have filed a $1.4-million claim against police, saying they were stopped outside while exiting a Yonge Street restaurant. One woman also alleges she was sexually assaulted during a roadside strip search. Although none of the claims have been proven in court, an investigation by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director found evidence that at least one policeman, Constable James Ure, noticed the furry lower limbs. In his arrest notes, he wrote that “all parties appear to be protesters; back packs; clothing and females all have hairy legs.” The suit could be the last in the wave of litigation over police actions during the summit—the two-year limitation period ran out in late June, just after this suit was filed. [CBC News]

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Officer Bubbles is back—and he’s identifying rough cops from the G20

Adam Josephs, the internet-famous “Officer Bubbles,” is in the news again, but for keeping the police force accountable rather than starring in satirical cartoons. The Toronto Star reports that Josephs was a witness for the Independent Police Review director’s recent (and scathing) report, helping to identify the officers who allegedly roughed up freelance journalist Jesse Rosenfeld while he was reporting on the kettling incident outside the Novotel Hotel. According to TVO’s Steve Paikin, who was at the scene, two police officers refused to recognize Rosenfeld’s “alternative media pass” and restrained him, while a third punched him in the stomach and elbowed him in the back. Thanks to the witness statements and Josephs’ identification, Constable Michael Martinez will face a police tribunal hearing for using “unnecessary force.” Justice! Though Paikin and Josephs reportedly had a chat about Josephs’ Bubbles infamy when they ran into each other outside the Princess of Wales Theatre, we’re hoping for a reunion of both high-profile witnesses on The Agenda[Toronto Star]

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Memoir: two young protesters find love among the tents at Occupy Toronto

Memoir: Your Tent Or Mine?I’m a 28-year-old film editor, and I don’t want for much. I live in a spacious apartment on a quiet street off Queen West. I rarely have trouble finding meaningful and well-paying employment. But after following the Occupy Wall Street protest in New York, I was inspired to step outside my comfort zone.

On Saturday, October 15, when a group of people set up tents in St. James Park, I decided to stop by and show my support. By the time I got there, the sun had begun to go down and a general assembly was underway. There were hundreds of people of various ages and ethnicities, income and education levels, all energized and eager to have their voices heard. At the end of the assembly, a smaller facilitation meeting was organized in the park’s gazebo to discuss the process of working together as a group. There were about a dozen of us. As the sky darkened and the floodlights lit up the gazebo, we began introducing ourselves. Almost immediately, a familiar voice spoke.

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The cop kicking the crowd in that infamous G20 photo finally has a name—thanks to another protester lawsuit

Here’s a familiar tale: a Toronto cop with his face covered and no badge displayed (allegedly!) beats up some G20 protesters, a police complaints watchdog deems the officer used excessive force, and the protesters launch a lawsuit. That’s the short version of why partners Nikos Kapetaneas and Caitlin Morgan are each suing the Police Services Board for $25,000, claiming they were kicked, punched, beaten with batons and pepper-sprayed. Kapetaneas is better known as the unlucky protester in this picture, while the police officer behind that famous boot-to-the-shoulder is apparently Constable Oliver Simpson, who was also named in the Adam Nobody case. If you want to keep track, the Toronto Star has catalogued all the G20 lawsuits launched to date. The short version of that story: the list is very long. Read the entire story [Toronto Star] »

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Reaction roundup: city hall votes on the budget

A no-confidence vote, pepper spray and jellyfish; in other words, a look at what the media, protesters and the Twittersphere had to say about yesterday’s budget vote after the jump.

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Police and G20 activists both look bad as more details from OPP undercover operation are revealed

Apparently, the cop shop knew G20 protesters planned to commit acts of vandalism—the Toronto Star reports in no uncertain terms that it was so. Undercover officer Brenda Carey taped an activist group’s final meeting before the international summit, at which organizers discussed “smashy smashy”—yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like—as well as seeking cover from police amid peaceful protesters. Of course, nobody comes out of this looking particularly good. The police appear to have spent a whack of dollars to find out that bad stuff was going to happen, and then let it happen anyway, while the protesters’ “smashy smashy” obsession doesn’t exactly sound like the most mature, or effective, form of resistance. Read the entire story [Toronto Star] »

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Yuppie dog walkers clash with lefty activists in the fight for St. James Park

With the Occupy Toronto encampment over, local dog owners can finally return to their beloved park for a game of canine Frisbee, a frolic in the leaves or a good old-fashioned stoop-and-scoop. The tension between dog walkers and occupiers was no secret—the park was prime dog-walking territory before protesters plopped down a bunch of tents, yurts and portable toilets. Naturally, we had a nice chuckle at the thought of the battle between the 99 and the one per cent coming down to dirty hippies and yuppies walking dogs in designer sweaters. It sounds like a really, really bad screenplay. As the Toronto Star writes: “The protest was a glimpse into a bohemian existence” for some locals. How precious. Read the entire story [Toronto Star] »

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Another call for a public inquiry into the G20 after pricy police infiltration op produces few results

Once again, there are calls for an inquiry into police conduct during the G20. This time, the calls come in response to details surfacing around an undercover operation involving infiltrating activist groups in the lead-up to the summit last year. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is demanding a public inquiry, arguing that “allegations police helped anarchists plan protests should be investigated.” And that’s not all. There’s also the contention that the end result of the investigation doesn’t justify an expensive project that the Globe and Mail says “[employed] techniques used to bust biker gangs and terrorist networks”—apparently, all to confirm that protesters planned to break windows. In the end, the police essentially let protesters break windows anyway, and the only real result of the intel is a handful of minor guilty pleas. Read the entire story [Globe and Mail] »

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In a quintessentially Toronto moment, the Occupy protest comes to a peaceful end

St. James Park after the eviction notice is served (Image: Portraits Of Toronto from the Torontolife.com Flickr pool)

The remaining Occupy Toronto protesters were forced from the wilds of St. James Park yesterday, and all things considered, it was a pretty smooth ride. Police, bylaw officers and city workers entered the park before sunrise and began removing tents and debris, but the process dragged on throughout the afternoon as a few diehard protesters staged their last stands. For now, though, that’s it: a few arrests and nary a broken window. In other words, nothing like the violence and relative chaos witnessed during the G20.

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American Occupy movement’s bombast—and police brutality—garners attention Occupy Toronto can’t match

Ottawa Magazine’s Mark Bourrie notes that the American Occupy protesters displayed a level of bombast that helped them garner media attention, and that they were also the target of far more police violence (case in point: the police officer who pepper-sprayed a group of UC Davis Occupiers with the kind of nonchalance normally applied to watering a garden). And much like Toronto’s own homegrown police embarrassment, Officer Bubbles, Bourrie believes the violence actually helped, not hindered, the American cause. The anti-Occupy forces appeared to be a bunch of heartless bullies, and claims like Megyn Kelly’s—that pepper spray is “a food product, essentially”—is the kind of stupid you just can’t make up. Read the entire story [Ottawa Magazine] »

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G20 ringleaders go to court, undercover police officers’ names and stories go public

The Toronto Star, among other media outlets, reports the names of two undercover police officers who infiltrated activist circles in the lead up to the G20 Summit in Toronto last year. Apparently, one officer in particular went deep—“motherly chores” deep—living with Guelph activists for nearly six months while driving them to meetings and cooking meals for them. Of course, she also learned about their plans for smashing windows and damaging property. Read the entire story [Toronto Star] »

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As expected, police crash the party at Occupy Toronto

Occupy Toronto is staggering toward a conclusion. Early this morning, police and bylaw officers asked protesters to disperse, before entering the park and tagging tents for removal. The police’s arrival came after hours of rumours at the encampment, where many demonstrators were convinced a raid was coming at 4 a.m. (the police didn’t actually show up until a couple of hours later). There were garbage trucks and city workers scattered throughout the park, cataloguing people’s loose belongings so that they could retrieve them later. Many protesters have cleared out, while others show no signs of budging. One woman was arrested, but then quickly released from custody. For the most part, the situation seems to be in a weird state of limbo. Read Torontoist’s live blog [Torontoist] »

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Occupy Toronto gets its marching orders; police take a hands-off approach to the eviction

Protesters at St. James Park (Image: Portraits of Toronto from the Torontolife.com Flickr pool)

Yesterday, a judge ruled that it was within the city’s rights to evict Occupy Toronto from St. James Park. Some protesters responded by leaving the park, while many others, including a group of particularly committed Occupiers who chained themselves to the library yurt, seemed less inclined to pack up and ship out. The police, meanwhile, said they’ll give protesters time to clear out, a marked departure from how they dealt with demonstrators at last year’s G20.

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Judge upholds city’s eviction order for Occupy Toronto; Doug Ford muses about the end of “Woodstock Toronto”

If last week’s eviction notice was the beginning of the end for Occupy Toronto’s scrappy camp in St. James Park, today’s ruling by Justice David Brown of the Ontario Superior Court is something like the middle of the end. As Torontoist reports, Brown concluded that the city was well within its rights to turf protesters. “The Charter does not permit the protesters to take over public space without asking, exclude the rest of the public from enjoying their traditional use of that space, and then contend that they are under no obligation to leave.” (Councillor Doug Ford, ever gracious in victory, was heard quipping to reporters that “Woodstock Toronto is all over.”) This ruling puts the ball back in the city’s court—although Rob Ford has already indicated he wants the occupiers to leave “as soon as possible” and city manager Joe Pennachetti has said he hopes everyone will be out, voluntarily, by midnight, there’s currently no official deadline for when they need to clear the park. It seems there’s just no appetite for a repeat of last year’s G20 debacle friendly tête-à-tête between protesters and police. Read the entire story [Torontoist] »

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