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Political Protest, Mass Arrests, and Mass Detention: Fundamental Freedoms and (Un)Common Criminals

Debra L. Parkes

University of Manitoba - Faculty of Law

Meaghan Daniel

Falconer Charney LLP

November 1, 2011

“No Justice. No Peace.” The mass arrest and detention of over 1,105 people during the Toronto G20 summit in June 2010, including author Meaghan Daniel, prompted reflection on the connections between justice and peace and in particular, between peaceful protest, policing, detention and the justice system. The record breaking weekend of mass arrests and temporary detention of people described as “innocent bystanders” and “peaceful protestors” provoked an ongoing conversation about the criminalization of protest. It is the authors’ hope to extend this conversation beyond these (un)common criminals to the “every day” processes of criminalization and imprisonment that go largely unquestioned in this country. The article shares the narrative of Meaghan’s arrest and detention while participating as a legal observer during the G20 summit weekend. In the course of telling that story, the authors briefly reflecting on two themes: (1) the criminalization of dissent, including through the power to arrest for “breach of the peace” and the apparent impotence of constitutionally entrenched rights to free expression and peaceful assembly to restrain such police power; and (2) connections between the experiences and activism of the G20 detainees and the thousands of other prisoners in Canada – these “common criminals” with whom progressive social movements have not always seen common cause.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 16

Keywords: Political protest, criminalization, social justice, prisoners' rights

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Date posted: April 12, 2012 ; Last revised: July 12, 2012

Suggested Citation

Parkes, Debra L. and Daniel, Meaghan, Political Protest, Mass Arrests, and Mass Detention: Fundamental Freedoms and (Un)Common Criminals (November 1, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2038359 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2038359

Contact Information

Debra L. Parkes (Contact Author)
University of Manitoba - Faculty of Law ( email )
Winnipeg R3T 5V4, Manitoba
Meaghan Daniel
Falconer Charney LLP ( email )
8 Prince Arthur Avenue
Toronto, Ontario M5R 1A9
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