Public forum on Toronto Police seizure of media footage

Thursday, August 24, 2000
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression invites the public to a panel discussion on the seizure by Toronto Police of film and videotape shot at the June 15 anti-poverty protest at Queen's Park. The event, titled "Protest Coverage or Police Evidence?" will take place on Tuesday September 12, 2000 at 8 p.m., in the Rotunda of Toronto's Metro Hall. The panel will include Rob Cribb, an investigative reporter with The Toronto Star, Clayton Ruby, a civil rights lawyer, Harry Glasbeek, Professor Emeritus at Osgoode Hall Law School, and Superintendent Bill Blair of the Toronto Police Service. Materials including film, videotape and media equipment were seized in July from The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, The Toronto Sun, Sing Tao, World Journal Daily News, Corriere Canadese, Ming Pao, CBC, CTV, Global Television, City-TV, ONtv, and CFMT Television. Eight of these media outlets have launched a court challenge to the legality of the search warrants used to obtain the footage. In documentation supporting the search warrant application, police stated they required media footage to help identify participants at the June 15 protest. They say media images are "clearer" than their own footage - obtained by seven police videocameras, a still photographer and plainclothes officers with disposable cameras - because media were able to get closer to the demonstrators than police. Pending a court date in the Superior Court of Justice, the seized materials have been sealed. CJFE protested this incident in a letter addressed to Toronto Chief of Police Julian Fantino, calling it an infringement on media freedom and independence. For more information, contact Lisa Roberts, CJFE Program Manager: roberts@cjfe.org; tel: 416-515-9622; fax: 416-515-7879

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