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People in their 20s with cameras: the new enemy?

Now that we are hearing more from those who were arrested or detained over the G20 weekend, it’s becoming apparent that police were particularly irritated by people in their 20s documenting the protests in one way or another for alternative media publications.

Lawyer Julian Falconer announced yesterday he is taking on the cases of four such journalists, and the stories they tell are horrible.

Amy Miller was covering the demonstrations for the independent monthly Dominion when she says she was verbally abused, arrested and taken to the detention centre. Most alarmingly, she says one of the officers threatened sexual violence and added “you won’t be a journalist after we bring you to jail”.

Lisa Walter (who is the only one of the group not in her 20s) writes for the labour magazine Our Times. She says she was thrown to the ground and cuffed, her credentials challenged and was called a “f-ing dyke”.

Adam MacIsaac was covering the same protest as Miller for the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition. He was arrested, taken to a hospital after telling police he had a pacemaker. He was handcuffed to a bed according to this profile of 20 detainees in the Toronto Star. When he was let go 7 hours later, police said they had no idea where his $6K worth of camera equipment went.

Cameron Fenton was also reporting for the Dominion. He told the Star that about 30 people near a protest were boxed in by police and all were arrested and put in the G20 detention centre to be released later the same day.

Then there’s the physical abuse of independent journalist Jesse Rosenfeld, who I wrote about Monday.

There may be some gray area between activism and journalism in all these cases. These are young, independent reporters with a point of view. But it appears that those who aggressively pursued the G20 story, who were not backed by big media companies, and who were young and seemingly vulnerable were particularly targeted for abuse.

It’s like the police were sending an ominious message to the journalists of the future: don’t go there.

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