Police Chief Bill Blair used a cache of household items seized over the weekend to justify the force with which they disrupted protests. Prominent among the “potential weapons” were bamboo poles, the CBC reports.
But poles confiscated by police were never intended as weapons, their owners say. Had they not been confiscated, they would have been used to fly Pride flags at a picnic in Cawthra Park.
Michael Went and Doug Kerr say they were on their way to Oasis, a low-key gay picnic intended to celebrate the anniversary of Stonewall.
The couple say they took the poles from planters in their condo, where they were being used decoratively.
On the morning of Sunday, June 27, they were preparing to bike from their place at College and Spadina to Cawthra Park, in Toronto’s Church-Wellesley neighbourhood.
Went says that a man warned the pair that police were confiscating anything that could be used as a weapon.
“Within a minute, two police officers arrived,” and asked to take the poles, says Went. Neither he nor Kerr resisted the seizure.
Went says he finds it “shocking” that the seizure would be used to justify police conduct, since “I never, ever thought of them as weapons.”
Even so, they’re taking things in stride.
“How am I supposed to get my bamboo poles back?” Kerr asks.
(Photo: people at a civil liberties march in Toronto on June 28. About 2,000 showed up to protest police overreach.)