Police accused of displaying fake G20 weapons
Last Updated: Wednesday, June 30, 2010 | 7:08 PM ET
The Canadian Press
Toronto's top police officer misled the public by displaying fake weapons used in a medieval-themed role-playing game to help justify their actions during G20 protests, their owner said Wednesday.
Brian Barrett said everything in the backpack police confiscated from him "was safe enough for toddlers."
Barrett's "spell-balls," foam-covered batons and scale-mail vest were among items police Chief Bill Blair showed reporters on Tuesday.
"He turns around and states that they are specifically dangerous terrorist items that were solely intended to hurt police," Barrett said. "That's unacceptable to me."
Barrett, 25, of Whitby, Ont., was en route to a west-end park for a role-playing fantasy game called Amtgard when police stopped him at Union Station on Saturday.
Players ranging in age from early teens to late 40s regularly participate in the fantasy combat involving foam swords often referred to as live action role-playing or LARPing.
Police questioned Barrett for almost three hours, confiscated his gear, and released him.
He said he expected it would be returned as early as Monday.
But when he turned on his TV Tuesday, he saw the gear displayed along with hatchets, bats and tire irons that police had confiscated over the weekend.
His homemade shield, foam-covered baton, scale-mail vest, and roll of hockey tape sat next to bear spray, a modified BB-gun, and gas masks.
Barrett was enraged to see his property associated with violence and vandalism.
Could be used to set fire
Police did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday, but had previously insisted the items were potentially dangerous.
For example, they said, the "spell balls" could be used to set fire to a building.
Blair had already been forced to admit that a chainsaw and crossbow on display at the news conference had nothing to do with G20 protests.
The police chief was also forced to admit that a regulation granting police unprecedented search and arrest powers did not apply to the area outside the summit fence.
However, Blair said he deliberately chose to leave the public in the dark.
More than 900 people were detained for incidents related to G20 protests.
Civil libertarians and opposition politicians both federally and provincially are calling for an independent review of how police behaved amid accusations of widespread abuses.
They claim police illegally detained, searched and arrested people.
Barrett said he's baffled that Blair would try to mislead the public with his homemade props, especially while under such scrutiny.