June 6, 2013 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Police use force to arrest news photographer at Toronto station

Reporters Without Borders condemns Toronto Star photographer Alex Consiglio’s arrest and mistreatment while taking photos during an incident inside Toronto’s Union Station on 2 June.

The incident began when two employees of GO Transit, the regional public transit company, were thrown on to the track during a scuffle with a man who tried to open the doors of a train leaving the station. When Consiglio took photos of an injured employee, police told him this was not allowed and asked him to leave.

Consiglio complied but, as he was leaving the station, he took another photo of the injured employee being taken away on a stretcher. At this point, he was arrested and handcuffed by the police, and briefly held in a headlock. He was later released after being fined 65 Canadian dollars.

Anne Marie Aikins, media relations manager with Metrolinx, the company that manages GO Transit, said Consiglio was arrested because journalists are not allowed to take photos inside the station without first obtaining permission.

Toronto Police communications director Mark Pugash claimed that the police used “reasonable force” because Consiglio refused to comply with request to get out of the way on the grounds that he worked for the media.

“Whatever the reason given, there was no justification for the violence used with Consiglio,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The authorities must investigate this incident, which is unusual in Canada and therefore all the more deserving of their attention.

“Banning journalists from taking photos inside Union Station is absurd, especially as the ban does not apply to the public, who can use their smartphones to photograph anything that seems worthy of note and circulate their photos as it happens. Under these circumstances, what are the grounds for preventing professional reporters from doing their job?”