TORONTO, Dec. 18 /CNW/ - The head of a union representing journalists in Ontario is demanding criminal charges against security officers involved in crowd control for the Olympic torch run after two journalists were assaulted in Newmarket today.
The two journalists, both photographers for the Toronto Sun, were attempting to take pictures of Olympic torch bearers as they made their way along Davis Drive in Newmarket shortly after noon.
Photographer Dave Thomas was repeatedly shoved as he tried to take pictures but was not injured. But photographer Ian Robertson, who is about 60 years old and was laden with camera gear so he was unable to defend himself, required hospital treatment for an apparent head injury after he was shoved to the ground by security officers wearing the grey Olympic uniforms.
"This is an outrage," said Brad Honywill, president of Local 87-M of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada. "The Olympics are supposed to represent the highest of human values but the behaviour of the security officers represents nothing less than brutality and cowardice."
The fact protests had delayed the torch run the day before doesn't authorize security to use police state tactics for crowd control, Honywill said, noting that there was much criticism of the Chinese government for the way it crushed protests during last year's summer Olympics and this behaviour is no better.
"It would have been obvious to anyone who cared that these two people were professional photographers and certainly not protesters attempting to disrupt the torch relay," Honywill said. "There was no excuse for the kind of physical violence that took place."
The president of CEP Local 87-M noted that journalists are being killed in record numbers around the world, often at the hands of government organizations. Others, both at home and abroad, are being subjected to increased violence. And it has to stop.
"Journalists should not be seen as punching bags for the police, security forces or anyone else. When they're exposed to violence, all of society is threatened because it's the journalists who reveal what is happening in their community and country."
SOURCE Southern Ontario Newsmedia Guild (CEP Local 87-M)
For further information: For further information: Brad Honywill, President CEP Local 87-M, W: (416) 461-2461, ext 7, C: (905) 334-9259